They are hard! Here are some of the things you can do to help your friend following a break up:
- Help them to concentrate on getting through one day at a time
- Routine can help
- Help them remember the things they enjoy to do
- Spend some time with them, let them speak about it if they want, if they don’t then respect that but let them know you are happy to listen if they want to talk later. It is likely that your friend can be up one day and down the next.
- Getting over a break up, and we all do get over them, does take time. Really try patience. They may talk about it over and over, but they need to do that to make sense of things. Try and hang in there to listen and know that it will change for your friend eventually if they have the opportunity to express it all.
- Let them cry if they need to. It is a normal response. Let it happen.
- Don’t tell your friend, “just forget about him/her”
- Suggest that your friend try some ritual to acknowledge the relationship and how it changed them but now it is a new phase (e.g. write a letter about it and burn it – don’t send it!)
If it has been a shock to your friend:
- Help them to maintain their self-respect.
- Help them to be fair to their ex – the breakup may have caused your friend a lot of pain but it does not really help your friend if they try and cause pain to the ex, embarrass them, harass them or plead with them etc. It can ultimately make your friend regret their response later and feel embarrassed and humiliated by the way they acted.
- Help them to accept it is over by talking about new plans in their life.
Your friend may respond with anger, depression or intense sadness.
If anger, see if you can help your friend to move through it by undertaking some healthy physical responses such as:
- music – dancing
- suggest they write it all down but then rip it up – don’t let them send it to the ex!!
Remember, give your friend time to get over it. If, after time has passed, you are still concerned about their response then maybe suggest some professional help (See section therapeutic assistance).
Your friend was the one who did the breaking up
If your friend has instigated the breakup, they may feel awful about the pain they have caused and want to keep the friendship. However, it is often better if they move on. Trying to maintain the friendship so soon could give their ex mixed messages. The ex may also be feeling anger and it is better if the ex has the space they need to come to terms with the loss of the type of relationship that they wanted.
Sometimes your friend’s ex can use manipulative behaviour as an attempt to start the relationship again, e.g. threaten harm to themselves or your friend. If harassment is involved then you may find some ideas from the bullying section that could help your friend.