We think they’ll go on forever until it becomes painfully obvious that they won’t. Finding, nurturing, developing and indeed losing love are all part of life’s tapestry and both the highs and the lows play a vital part in who we are and what makes us stronger, more resilient and better equipped to deal with the world.
Unfortunately, this can be of little comfort when someone we love goes through a breakup. The loss of a relationship (even if your friend was the one who initiated the breakup) is a bereavement just like the death of a loved one, and different people will deal with it in different ways.
Some will turn in on themselves and disappear off the face off the Earth, others will overcompensate by partying harder than ever, yet more will paint on a smile and convince you that everything’s okay when inside they’re crying.
In light of this, it can be difficult to know the best way to help someone who’s going through a difficult breakup, but stick to these golden rules and your friend will be as equipped as possible to get over it in their own time.
Because people cope with the deterioration of a relationship in different ways, it’s vital not to project your own coping mechanisms onto them. You might have gotten over your last breakup by staying socially active and spending a ton of time with friends, but this may be the worst possible thing for them. If they choose to withdraw from your social group, then give them some space and check in on them every now and then just to let them know you’re thinking of them, and that you’re on standby if you need them.
Know your limits
As wonderful a friend as you are, it’s important to remember that you can’t handle all of their problems alone, nor should you try. You do neither yourself, nor your friends any favors by being a one-woman army. Besides, your friend may not be in the best position to appreciate your help at this point. You may get accused of meddling or worse still gloating at their misfortune. If this occurs, the best thing you can do is try to be a supportive friend and weather this temporary storm. If they dismiss you altogether, then sometimes the best thing to do is give them the resources that they need to cope. If, for example, they’re going through a divorce you can point them in the direction of free family law resources. This way you can help build the infrastructure for them to help themselves.
Help with the little things
One way in which you can almost always be of practical use is in helping your friend through the logistics of the breakup. As brave a face as they may be able to put on, they’re probably not ready to start moving their stuff out of a shared home. They may not even be ready to get their car cleaned or buy groceries. Being there for them by taking care of the little things may only take a few minutes out of your day, but it can make a universe of difference.
There’s no easy or right way to get over a breakup. But, by sticking to those three rules, you’ll help your friend navigate this difficult process.