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SuperMouse's avatar

How can I be there for two people going through tough break-ups?

Asked by SuperMouse (30782points) May 19th, 2009

Two people very close to me are going through very difficult break-ups right now. I am trying my best to be there for both of them but I spend a lot of time being at a loss for words. I say things like “I wish I had something brilliant to say” but it feels so lame. Any great words of advice?

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15 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Don’t be dumb, do not get involved with those matters. They should deal with it themselves. Don’t bother trying to baby them and cheer them up; thats how people grow stronger after breakups.

figbash's avatar

There are a lot of things you can do to let them know you’re there for them, and often it doesn’t involve having to say the right thing, or have the right answer. I would get them both out of the house, and focus their attention on something they enjoy doing. They definitely need to reconnect with what makes them happy outside of their relationships. They also need to keep some perspective, which you can help provide. The end of the world is not coming because the relationship is over, although sometimes it can feel that way.

I’d also focus less on thinking of the right thing to say, but rather, just show them that you’re listening to them when they want to talk about it. Sometimes people just want to talk through their feelings or get validation that their relationship meant something.

The other thing you can do is help the person feel good about themselves right now. Breakups do a bang-up on the ego, and if your friends are female, now is a great time to take them out for some fun girly, beauty stuff – like a spa afternoon. It can really help them if you just reinforce all of the things that make them special and lovable, which ultimately leads to faster healing.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

In these moments we fall into a trap of thinking there’s something that can be said which will make everything better. There isn’t.

In those moments I try to be supportive and let the person know I’m there if I’m needed. If they need me, I’m in. If not, I let them handle their business.

cak's avatar

I think the best thing you can possibly do is to be there for them, but not to force anything or force advice. not that you would! I don’t know how new the break-ups are, depending on how soon it is, they might not be ready for great advice, anyway. They may think they are, but you know how this can go…very poorly, if it’s the wrong time! @figbash had a good suggestion. Getting them out, doing something, is a good idea. Sometimes, something as simple as a walk is the best thing for your mental health!

Be a good listener, be a good friend. Have a great shoulder to lean on. :)

Judi's avatar

I hate that situation! I have 2 friends breaking up too. You have to be so careful and someone always takes something out of context. To make matters worse their daughter just died and I feel like being with either reminds them of their marriage. I want to support my friends through this rough time but I just seem to get flung in the middle of their war. I feel for you !!!

Jeruba's avatar

Just to be clear, @SuperMouse, are these two friends breaking up with each other? It seems not (because you say “breakups,” not one breakup between them), but just checking. If they are breaking up with each other, you probably can’t stay friends with both of them.

I don’t think it matters much what you say beyond “I’m here if you need to talk.” Listening with your usual sympathetic voice—“That must be hard for you,” “I know what that feels like”—is probably all you can do. They won’t be paying much attention to your words, other than to sense your compassionate concern. Right now they are going to be focused on themselves. If you have wise advice, all the better, but it’s your ear and your shoulder that probably help the most.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Friends go through breakups all the time and I’m open if they want to confide with me but otherwise I stay out. Breakups between a couple where I’m friends with both, that’s really tough and there are instances where I have chosen to support one over the other and found it best to just be truthful up front as to why, from my own perspective so they know it’s on me and not fact for fact about them.

SuperMouse's avatar

This is two people in two different relationships, they are not breaking up with each other.

Judi's avatar

That’s much easier.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Judi it is good because I am not going to have to lose one of them as a friend, but I feel so inept. I know they just need someone to listen – without bashing the ex’s – and that is what I am trying my hardest to do. My heart is breaking for both of them and I want to pick them up and put them down on the other side!

hug_of_war's avatar

Do fun things with them. They probably feel bad enough without needing someone to wallow with them in pity. When I went through a hard break-up, it was nice to just do something fun for a few hours.

Judi's avatar

Just being there, not abandoning them when they already feel alone is the best gift you can give.

bythebay's avatar

@SuperMouse: You’re a good friend to care so much, and to feel such empathy. In addition to the great advice you’ve gotten above, consider humor. Amass a collection of funny cards and send one every couple of days. Drag them out to the movies and laugh at how silly we are sometimes. Call and tell them when something amusing is on TV. Don’t let every conversation turn into a sad song… As days pass and they move through the stages of their grief, their needs will change. It sounds like they have a good friend in you.

whatthefluther's avatar

@SuperMouse…There are great suggestions above. Let them do the ex-bashing thing with their own families, who would probably be supportive of such discussion. As a friend, keep it positive and focus on new activities and opportunities available to them. But keep that shoulder available to them if/when they need one. I’m certain they know they are blessed to have such a great friend as you. Warmest regards…wtf

CMaz's avatar

You can’t. Be natural. Keep your distance with matters of their hearts. Or you will find yourself on the wrong side of the fence.

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