The Dos & Don'ts Of Helping A Friend Through A Bad Breakup

I had been dutifully helping my friends through breakups for years, but it wasn’t until my first relationship ended that I realized I had been doing it all wrong.

We probably all know the importance of being a good listener, not lecturing, and not bashing a friend's ex too hard (you know, in case they get back together). But I was mortified when I realized that the questions that drove me crazy during my breakup were the very questions I found myself asking my newly single pals. It got me thinking about the right and wrong ways of supporting friends who suddenly find themselves without a plus-one — no matter who made the decision to end the relationship.

Based on personal experience, here’s a list of dos and don’ts for being a good friend during a breakup. Feel free to add your own advice in the comments section.
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We all have thoughts about our friends' partners that we keep to ourselves out of respect for the relationship. I’d like to think that if my friends saw any glaring red flags (e.g., abuse, anger issues, infidelity, etc.) they’d tell me, but if there were quirks about my relationship that they didn’t understand, they should continue to be respectful and keep those opinions to themselves.

One of the hardest things to hear after a breakup was that people always thought that I could “do better” or that my partner “wasn’t right” for me. My relationship was already over; there was no need to retroactively make me feel even worse about it.

If you kept certain thoughts to yourself while your friend was with a certain ex, you'd do well to keep them to yourself after the fact, too.
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In my case, I ended the relationship, and it was a really hard decision. People asking me if I would take my ex back made me feel like they questioned my choice to break up. The question never made sense to me: Whenever people asked me if I’d consider taking him back, it felt as if I had decided to move to a new place, packed up all my stuff, put it in a U-haul truck, and was then immediately asked if I wanted to just return to my old apartment. Didn’t I just say I was moving?

If your friend is the dumper, do everything you can to support his or her decision. You might think your friend made a big mistake, but trust that his or her reasons for ending the relationship are valid.
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I mentioned my breakup to a girl from my church, and she gave me a high five and said, “If you ended it, that means it needed to end!” Her reaction caught me off guard, but it made perfect sense — and kind of became a mantra for me.

But even if your pal is the dumpee, the congratulatory response is still appropriate. There's plenty to look forward to about re-entering singledom.
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I was always a bit thrown off by questions like, “Do you think he just wasn't ready?” or “How did he take it?” I really don’t want to speak on behalf of someone I’m not dating anymore.

Making your friend's ex's feelings, thoughts, or reactions the main topic of conversation may seem like a natural thing to do, but as a friend, your job is to ask about the person you're close with, not the person who's out of the picture.
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When someone is hurting, it can be hard for that person to reach out — so don't just vaguely tell your friend, “I’m here if you need me." One of the helpful things a few of my girlfriends did for me during my breakup was to make plans for me. Sometimes it was simple, like, “come over, and I’ll cook for you,” or “let’s take yoga on Thursday.” Sometimes it was more assertive: “We’re going away for the weekend!” But, every single time, it was a lifesaver.

This is worth remembering the next time your heartbroken friend claims to be fine but refuses to leave the apartment except to stock up on more wine and ice cream. Your presence is most definitely wanted — even if your friend can't always admit it. So, give your pal space, but recognize that you can do a lot of good by taking charge.
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While I'm deciding whether or not to delete my ex from my social media entirely, I certainly don't need the play-by-play of his posts. If i wanted to stalk my ex, I'd do it myself.

Facebook-stalking your friend's ex does nothing to help your friend, and it delays the healing process.
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Many of my friends opened up to me about relationships they’d ended in the past. None of them were remorseful; all of them were standing tall and happy. It gave me hope to see that the pain of a breakup doesn’t last forever and there’s good on the other side.

It helps to remind your friend that you, too, reached the other side of the breakup tunnel.
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