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How to support a friend through a breakup

Breakups are horrible. 

A lot of the time, when you go through an unexpected breakup, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down, and everything you’ve known is being ripped away from you.

It’s times like these, when romantic love is failing you, that you really need to fall back on your friends.

‘Breakups can be heartbreaking, especially when we feel emotionally overwhelmed, highly sensitive and vulnerable,’ Dipti Tait, a relationship and grief therapist, tells

‘And remember that we will be grieving: we face grief when we lose something we have loved and invested in – so the loss of a relationship, whether it is a decision you have made or not, will come with grief. 

‘In this grieving stage, our hearts are broken and our emotions are raw, so it’s very important we surround ourselves with people who care and are kind and understanding.’

But as a friend, it isn’t always easy to know what to say or when to say it – does your friend need a hug, or three margaritas? 

It’s not always easy to be there for people, especially when you’re in unfamiliar territory. 

But as long as your heart’s in the right place, you’ll be able to help your friend feel like themself again in no time. 

Experts have shared a few ways you can support a friend going through this difficult time.

Listen and reassure

Sometimes we forget that being there for people isn’t always about trying to come up with solutions – especially with something as sensitive as heartbreak, which could take months or even years to truly heal.

‘It’s so often the case that we try and make suggestions to help our friends get over it, but we must remember that we are not feeling the heartache and it’s important to acknowledge your friend’s pain and understand there may not be a quick fix,’ says Dipti.

‘So, make sure you tell your friend you are there for them if they need to talk, and be there to listen.’

Distract them

‘While it’s important to listen, it’s also essential we get the balance of listening right,’ says Dipti.

This means not constantly talking about the breakup, and letting your friend bring it up when it feels relevant, otherwise, Dipti says, you’ll end up going around in circles, and it’s not helpful, 

‘It’s a good idea to gently distract our friend from the drama and the problems,’ she says.

‘Instead finding other nice things to chat about and focus on, rather than over-talking about the breakup.’

Get them out and about

Eventually, forcing your friend out of their bed and into the real world will likely do them a world of good. 

‘Often when our friends are struggling, they may not want to ask for help and feel really alone,’ says Dipti.

‘So, perhaps you could ask them over to dinner, buddy up with them to take on a seven-day health challenge with you – or go for regular walks to get them out and about.’

Have a fake ‘ex chat’ on text

When you’re angry at an ex, but everything has been said and done, it can feel frustrating and overwhelming, with angry and emotional thoughts constantly bubbling up inside your mind.

Dipti suggests having a digital conversation with your friend where you pretend to be their ex. 

‘So, rather than the friend really texting her ex, they can send the message to the fake chat and this will help them get things off their chest without the drama,’ says Dipti.

This can be really cathartic but also avoid having to open lines of communication that have already been closed.

Relationship therapy

Finally, Dipti suggests relationship therapy for anyone going through a particularly tough breakup. 

‘Therapy isn’t just for couples, this is also ideal for individuals getting through and managing breakups and healing heartbreak,’ she says. 

‘Talking things through with a relationship therapist will help get clarity and perspective and help them feel calm and get back control.’

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