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One of my best friends is going through a breakup right now with her live-in boyfriend. He hasn't moved out yet, and the lease for his new apartment doesn't start for another month. They are still sharing a common space and a bedroom, which is inconvenient at best. With a friend going through a breakup, my own needs have been pushed aside momentarily in an attempt to try and make her feel better. But sometimes, it's hard to know what to say.
When I try to think of something, my mind immediately goes to “there are other fish in the sea!” or “he was an jerk anyway!” but that doesn't honor the relationship she had with her ex and makes her past seem like a waste of time. Sometimes, I just want to scream at her to get over it already, but that won't acknowledge her feelings or make her feel heard. But I also don't want to jump into the pit of despair with her, agreeing with her that life is now over that she is single and that she is definitely going to die alone.
So here are some other, better things to remind your friend who is going through a breakup, because the cheesy breakup advice doesn't always cut it.
1. “I'm Here For You”
When you feel abandoned by a relationship or by someone you love, you tend to isolate yourself to the point of feeling abandoned by the world. You stop answering your phone, you flake on plans, and you make yourself as physically alone as you feel on the inside. It's easy to slip into a post-breakup depression, and often times, it can be self-inflicted.
Reassure your friend that they are not alone, even if they are trying hard to be. They might need personal space, of course, but don't let that space become detrimental to their physical or emotional well-being. Reminding someone that you are there for them through a time of emotional crisis (even if it's something like heartbreak) can be what a person needs to hear to get through the day.
2. “You're Allowed To Be Sad”
It's important to know that you can't force someone out of their emotions. Telling someone to “not be sad” won't magically make them happy. Have you ever told an angry person to calm down? It just makes them even angrier.
The best way to help someone heal is to validate the way they are feeling, and then, guide them through the understanding that feelings aren't facts. When you feel brokenhearted, it's heard to differentiate between how you feel and the bigger picture and the reality of the situation. Remind them that just because you feel unloveable, doesn't mean you are unloveable.
Allow your friend to sit in their emotions and feel through them, but also, provide an objective opinion and a little bit of truth (lovingly), so that things don't spiral out of control.
3. “No, You Weren't That Drunk Last Night”
When you're going through a breakup, you're bound to get a little bit… messy. Your BFF might have had a little bit too much to drink, gotten a little sloppy, sent a few drunk texts, cried at the club, fallen in the street, or gotten into a random car that they thought was their Uber.
Your job is to cover up all the evidence, steal their phone if they try to contact their ex, and pretend none of this ever happened. Oh, and to hold their hair back if they puke.
Breakups are an embarrassing time where — let's face it — our best selves aren't exactly coming to the forefront. Allow your friend to be gross for a hot second, but make sure their actions don't become their reputation forever.
4. “You've Gotten Through This Before, And You Can Do It Again”
Unless this is your friend's first breakup, most likely, they've been dumped or have dumped someone before. I remember when my high school boyfriend broke up with me, I thought I was going to die. Teenage me couldn't even fathom a world where I could be happy again. But believe it or not, I eventually got over him.
Then, I fell in love with someone new. And then, of course, we broke up, and I was heartbroken, convinced I would never love again… again. I had to remind myself I had been through this before. And I will go through this again, probably a few times.
Don't invalidate your friend's relationship, which was indeed special. Instead, maybe speak from your own experience with heartbreak and assure your friend that heartbreak is indeed an awful feeling that everyone goes through and gets through.
When you're upset about something, you like to envision that your experience is unique. While your relationship might have been, the feeling of heartbreak is not. Assure your friend that they will be OK, that they won't be sad forever, and that they will find someone new one day.
5. “You're Still Great”
Heartbreak isn't great for your self-esteem. Suddenly, you start questioning your own worth. If my hair was a quarter inch longer, would this relationship have worked out? Was it that one joke I said? What is it about me that isn't lovable?
The answer is nothing — you're great. So when your friend is dealing with a breakup, remind them of all their positive traits, internally and externally. When you are feeling low, sometimes, you need to hear it.
Breakups are hard no matter what, and the best thing you can do for a friend who is going through one is not to enable them in their sadness or allow them to wallow in it for too long, but to acknowledge and hear their feelings, and guide them through the healing process.
Who knows if they'll have to do the same for you one day? (Sorry, that was grim.)