The dos and don’ts of helping a mate through a breakup

Breakups are tough as.

Anyone who’s been through this heart-hitting process knows just how it feels. From suddenly living alone to wondering if you’ll ever eat or sleep again, losing a relationship is a rough experience.

Then there’s the terrifying thought of rocking up to a family event without a +1!  

If someone you know is going through this messy period, now’s the time to step up and be a mate. Showing empathy is a good start but the real benefit you can offer is the fact that you can see things more clearly than they can right now.

In a way, it’s your job to be the voice of reason and not let your mate do anything foolish (like trying to win back their ex by playing a love song on their doorstep). This also includes confiscating their phone at 2am when they want to call to say hi. They’ll probably thank you for it in the long run!     

Here are the key dos and don’ts of helping your mate through a breakup.

DO: respect their process

Everyone’s different. The way you deal with a breakup won’t necessarily be the same as the way your friend does. They might prefer solitude where you wanted a friend by your side, or they might turn to hitting the gym where you turned to Netflix marathons. We all find our own ways to deal with personal stuff.

Whatever your mate’s process is, respect it. If you try to force them into doing things they don’t want to right away, they might just feel worse and push you away.

DON’T: interfere too much

It’s tough to see a friend go through a hard time, but don’t be the person who spends all their time and energy trying to fix everything. Keep in mind that relationship problems are a personal affair which means the only people who can fix them are those who were involved. Sometimes, your mate might just need some privacy to work through the problem on their own.         

Obviously, you should stop them from doing anything dramatic or dangerous but don’t turn yourself into their personal counsellor (unless you’re qualified). Let them learn from their own mistakes as well.

DO: just be there

The hardest thing about helping a friend through a breakup is that there’s not always a lot you can actually do. Sometimes, the best way you can help is to just be there with them. Even if you end up sitting back and listening while they pack a sad, don’t worry. The fact that your mate has someone nearby will help them avoid feeling lonely.

So remember to be there for the small and meaningless things. Even if they call at awkward hours and say the same thing over and over (and over) again, now’s the time to listen, talk, and remind your mate that you’re with them. This simple gesture can make all the difference in the world.

DON’T: ignore your own needs

Helping a mate out is a worthy cause, but don’t neglect your own needs during the process. Make sure there’s enough quality you-time as well. Spending all your days thinking about other people’s problems could lead to emotional burnout, or even the risk of bringing their problems into your own life!

Feel free to spend some time with your partner and other friends or catch up on some of your personal hobbies. This will help recharge your emotional batteries and give you more energy to comfort your mate at the next big outing.

DO: hang in there

Don’t give up! Helping a mate move past their ex can take a while, but the worst thing you can do is to show them you’ve given up. It might take a lot of long phone calls, exhausting conversations, or boring weekends, but you’ll both get there in the end if you stick it out.

Plus, helping a close friend after a breakup is a bit like moving houses. If you give them a hand this time, you have one in the bank should you ever need their help in the future!

Head on over to the OneChoice Choice Reads blog for more family-friendly tips!