I’ve been a love and relationship coach specialized in breakups for quite a few years now, so I often have people turn to me for help because someone they care about is suffering from a broken heart. There are tears, there is anger, there’s depression, there’s negative self image, there is the bruised ego, there is hopelessness… the list goes on and on. The friend that comes to me knows that they need to be there for the person with the broken heart, but they don’t quite know how.
That is precisely why I wanted to write this article for you on how to help someone through a breakup!
It probably feels like you’re walking on eggshells or you just don’t know what you can do to make your friend stop hurting so much. Unfortunately, you can’t just wave a magic wand and make all of their pain disappear in the blink of an eye, but there are concrete things that you can do that will help him or her to feel supported, and there are certain things that you can introduce into their life that are going to help them to develop a more positive outlook for the future!
How to help a friend through a breakup that doesn’t want to accept the breakup
One of the hardest things to do is to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I bring this up because so often people ask me for help because their friend is suffering, but also doesn’t want to do anything to stop suffering. This isn’t a conscious choice – it’s simply that they don’t want to accept the breakup.
A friend of mine called me the other day and began telling me about is friend Lisa. Lisa had just gone through a breakup with a guy she had been seeing for about a year and a half. The guy in question didn’t have feelings for her like she had for him, and the fact that they lived in two different cities didn’t help matters. So he bowed out and ended the relationship. She was devastated, and turned to my friend, Michael for support.
As Michael explained to me, the problem was that Lisa would talk about the breakup and how much it hurt, and when Michael would begin to offer up helpful advice, it was like she wasn’t hearing him.
For example, she would tell Michael that it hurt so much and that she didn’t know how to let go, and he would suggest putting a bit of space between them.
Seeing the ex and talking to the ex on a regular basis would just twist the knife in the wound, especially when the wound was so fresh. As soon as they hung up, she would proceed to call up the ex, talk to him for half an hour, and then call Michael back to tell him how much it hurt…
So as you can see, Michael was starting to feel like he didn’t know how to help her because she wasn’t listening to the advice that she was asking him for.
As I explained to Michael, helping a friend through a breakup isn’t always as easy as it seems. We have to remember that every single one of us has to go through the Five Stages of Grief:
Lisa was still in the denial stage. We’ve all gone through painful breakups, so remembering how it felt is a good way to help us to maintain patience and perseverance. After we spoke, Michael continued to offer her advice and support, and as time went on she began to listen and implement what he was telling her.
So how do you help someone through a breakup no matter what stage of grief they are in?
How to help a friend with a breakup!
The best way to help someone get over a breakup is to be supportive. Ok, but what exactly does that mean? What does a supportive friend look like? Well, to give you an idea, I want you to keep these three elements in mind:
As we saw in the example I outlined above, it’s easy to become frustrated when you feel like you can’t do anything to help this person. Sometimes the best thing you can be is a shoulder to lean on.
Patience is what will keep you from throwing in the towel and giving up on helping a person going through a breakup. They already feel abandoned by their ex partner – we don’t want them to feel like their friend is abandoning them as well.
2. Wanting what is best for them
Even if it is not what they want to do, as a supportive friend you should encourage what is best for your friend. Help to steer your friend clear of any negative or vengeful behavior that they could regret later on down the line.
3. Keep your friend’s eye on their goals
Right now, your friend is hurt and feeling broken, so you can be there to help remind him or her of their ultimate goals and how they can reach them. Now is the absolute best time to set your sights on the future and remind your friend that they have plenty to be excited about.
One of the best ways to help someone get through a breakup is to help them distract themselves from the pain they are experiencing. It’s inevitable that it’s going to hurt, but they can change how much time and energy they give this feeling.
How to help someone through a breakup in the best way possible
Contrary to what you might be thinking, you don’t need to be out doing things with your friend all the time. Sometimes all they need is someone to sit on the couch with them while you watch a movie.
When someone breaks up with you, you’re flooded with a terrible feeling of loneliness. This feeling is most acute right after the breakup, so sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to just be with them.
As the days pass, start coaxing your friend out of their misery. Begin proposing doing things outside, and focus on innovation. The main goal right now is to help your friend fill up their life with new things, new activities, new places, new people…
Think about it this way – we don’t want your friend’s freshest memories to be their heartbreak. We want to fill up their schedule with fun new things that will 1. Take their mind off of the breakup, and 2. Open their eyes to all the new, positive elements of life that are available to them.
How does that saying go again? “When one door closes, ten new ones open up.” Your mission is to remind your friend of how true this is!
Helping a friend through a breakup: The delicate matter of tough love…
Has anyone ever told you, “Just get over it!” When you were suffering from heartache?
Has it ever helped? I mean, really, truly helped? No, not really, huh.
When a person breaks your heart, you suffer for a variety of reasons. You’re mourning the loss of the hopes you had for the relationship and you lose faith in your ability to be loved.
You realize that mistakes were made, and you feel terrible about yourself. You begin to seek validation, and more often than not you want it from your ex.
So, you might be seeing this happening with your friend. This is what Michael was witnessing with Lisa, and he was becoming frustrated. She kept making the same mistakes, despite what he was telling her when she asked for advice.
My suggestion is to always remain positive and supportive, but sit your friend down and ask him or her what they need from you. Sometimes a person realizes that they actually need some tough love, so they need you to call them out on their behavior and snap them out of it.
Knowing what your friend needs will help you to support him or her in the best way possible. You don’t want to force your opinion on your friend if they are not ready or willing to hear it. Sometimes all you can do is listen and digest the information, and offer your advice when it is asked for.
Tough love is complicated because you don’t want to make your friend feel worse than they already do. So when it comes to how to help a friend during a breakup, the absolute best thing you can do is to always focus on positivity, optimism, and bringing an element of freshness into your friend’s life.
I sincerely wish you and your friend the best,
Your coach for knowing how to help someone through a breakup,
I Know We Are Meant To Be!
Bonus: 3 advanced strategies that will turn you into a Human Relationships Expert and give you the tools to get back with the one you love... for good!