Seeing a close friend go through a really hard breakup is difficult. Breakups suck, as we all know, so when it's someone that you love and care about, you want to do everything you can to make them feel better.
Unfortunately, friendships can sometimes end just when relationships are ending. The reason is because no two people grieve exactly the same way and though we all mean well, we can often get overbearing in our desire to help our friend get through it.
There are, though, some really great things you can do if you ever find yourself in this situation.
Wondering how to help a friend through a breakup can be fraught with difficulty if you aren't sure of the best tactics, but this list will help you help them:
1. Encourage Them To Talk To You (If They Want)
One of the best things you can do to help a friend through a breakup is to encourage them to talk to you. Actually, you should encourage them to talk to you, cry to you, laugh with you or any other way they may want to express themselves to you.
When going through a breakup, it often feels totally isolating. It feels like people are judging the amount of time you spent grieving, if you grieved too hard, if you moved on too quick, and all the other details that come with ending a relationship. People, unfortunately, are really judgmental and this is why many of us clam up during a breakup.
Having a friend that not only accepts you but encourages you to talk during this time can be immensely valuable. It'll make the person realize that they actually aren't alone and that just because their relationship ended doesn't mean you don't still care about them.
That said, if they only wanted to say a few words to you when it ended and aren't really into talking about it, respect their space for that, as well.
2. Be The Voice Of Reason
While you should encourage your friend to express themselves to you however they want, you should also remember to be the voice of a reason at a time when you friend might really need it.
In other words, if your friend starts talking about wanting to burn their ex's things or stalk their new partner on Insta or drive over to their house and leave a note, don't let them! Right now, when your friend is feeling all of the bad feels, they won't be able to stop themselves from doing something stupid, so you, as a good friend, should.
You should be supportive of your friend and make sure they know that you're there for them, but also make sure they know you won't let them do anything dramatic that they'll regret later.
Even after this warning, though, you may end up in the unfortunate situation of watching your friend do something mildly masochistic or wildly idiotic. If you do have to watch them stalk their ex or their new flame on Facebook or even watch them actually drive to their ex's place, it'll suck (for both of you), but in that case, remind them that you're still there for them.
They may be a little crazy right now and you might have tried your hardest to stop it, but either way, let them know you still love them.
3. Don't Compare Yourself
When helping a friend through a breakup, it can be really tempting to go, "Oh, I remember when I broke up with my ex...."
Resist the urge.
No two people are alike and therefore no two breakups are alike. Maybe your ex was a really stand-up guy that would have loved you forever, but you just weren't feeling it. Maybe your friend's ex was secretly a felon on the run. These two situations are obviously drastically different, but the point is that all situations are different, so there's no point comparing.
Not only that, but comparing may make your friend feel like you just want to talk about yourself instead of actually being there for them through the breakup.
Instead of caring, just let them know that you're there for them and that you're on their side.
4. Understand Your Limits
Although you can try really hard to be a good friend during this breakup, you may just end up in a situation where your friend needs more help than you can offer.
For example, even though you might be down to bring them lunch or dinner and hang out and let them cry on the couch, you might not be down for their three a.m. wailing phone calls when you have to be up for work at five. Or you may not be down to drop everything when you're with your family to go meet them for post-breakup junk food.
One of the best ways to be there for your friend after a breakup is to remember that you are human too, and you have limits. While it may be temping to try to honor their every whim because you care about them so much, the truth is, they'll have to handle things on their own at some point.
A great thing to do in this situation is to suggest that your friend might benefit from outside help, like a therapist or counselor. Although it feels a little taboo, the truth is, the taboo is stupid and we all need help sometimes knowing when we need help. Your friend might never have considered the idea, and a therapist might help a lot in a situation like this.
Either way, though, if you have to back up a little bit and set some boundaries to maintain your own mental health, do it.
5. Let Them Find Their Own Path
If you do end up needing to set some boundaries, it'll be easier to do the last one on the list: Let your friend find their own way.
We've all been through breakups before, and some of us have even managed to figure out what methods of self-care work really well and which ones don't work at all. If you are one of those people that has a lot of life experience, you may want to share it all with your friend in need.
But, remember: They're not you. You're not them.
Your friend is going to have find their own way through this breakup, whether they (and you) like it or not. They are going to have to take their own time to heal and work through things, and they're going to have to do it in their own way.
After you've been there for your friend and talked and cried and listened, the best thing you can do is let them find their own process.
Breakups are truly terrible, whether you're the breaker, the breakee, or even the bestie of one of the two. The best things you can do for a friend going through a breakup are be there as much as you can, set healthy boundaries, and ultimately help them move on in the way that works for them.