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troubleinharlem's avatar

How to help a friend that is dealing with his girlfriend leaving him for someone?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7976points) September 15th, 2010

Okay, here’s the situation. My friend Josh had this girlfriend that was pretty much failing out of school and was cutting herself. When they got together, she started going to therapy and got way better grades. She moved away and they kept the long distance relationship, but then after awhile, she broke up with him because she found a new guy that was “there for me [her] and you’re [Josh] not”.

How can I help him to see that helping her regardless wasn’t a waste of time, or just help to get him through this? I know I can’t completely do it, but I kind of feel helpless.

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7 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

There are a lot of platitudes (better now than later, etc.). But I think you’re on the right track in suggesting that you want to help him see helping her wasn’t a waste of time.

He was there for her when she needed him the most. He may very well be the reason she’s alive today. That makes him incredibly important in her life, and should be proof to himself that he’s fundamentally a good person. Regardless of how it turns out, it’s rare that we get the opportunity to find out that, when the chips are down, we actually will step up to the plate.

I wouldn’t say it this way, but it’s kind of a blessing…I would be a little more sure of myself in the end, and know that I had the capacity to “be a man” when the time came for it.

And it doesn’t matter that he ended up making “the wrong choice” in a girlfriend. People in general can be fickle, and investing in them means risk at all times. Again, the one thing he can take away is that he is not, like most people, fickle. It’s nice to know that you’re a catch.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I would suggest asking your friend directly about how you can best help. Listen carefully to what he says and respond accordingly. Listening is often the best therapy a friend can offer another. Listening without judging and without trying to solve the problem. Be reassuring. Point out the things that he did right in the relationship. Remind him why he’s your friend. What does he do for you that makes him your friend. That will help him begin to rebuild his self esteem.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know what your relationship is like now, but just being there for him is all you can do. You can’t talk him into or out of feeling anything. Don’t try. Just try to do stuff with him. The more he does, the less time he’ll have to think about her. It’s when you are alone and have nothing to do that your thoughts turn to your loss.

As to getting him to see that being with her was not bad: that’s not your job and it’s not your call. It’s up to him to decide what the events of his life mean. Not you. So curb your tongue and let him speak about what he wants to speak about, and make sense out of his life however he wants to. Your job is to just be there.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t know what your relationship is like now, but just being there for him is all you can do.

This is a really good point. Listening and paying attention is the most important part of it. He may need you to do more than “just be there” but if you’re paying attention, you’ll see when that’s the case. And when you overstep your bounds…again, if you’re paying attention, you’ll know.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@wundayatta : … I’m just going to make a quick point. I wasn’t trying to make it my job to force him, I want to help him, so please don’t assume that I’m trying to make him do anything. It really isn’t appreciated.

wundayatta's avatar

@troubleinharlem I was just trying to help. I read ”How can I help him to see that helping her regardless wasn’t a waste of time” and it sounded to me that you had an opinion about this that you thought you should try to get him to believe. I understand that you want to help him, but that sounded too preachy to me and—perhaps more important it might be wrong and “helping” him to take that view may not really be help, no matter how good your intentions. Maybe it was just an issue of not exactly writing what you mean. Or maybe I just read the wrong thing into it. It’s not like I haven’t done that before. Anyway, it’s not something to make too much out of. We’re all on the same side here.—

troubleinharlem's avatar

@wundayatta : alright… I see what you’re saying. I guess I’m taking it personally because I feel helpless, so sorry about that.

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