Ask any relationship expert, and they will tell you that it's important not to sacrifice your relationships with your friends in favor of your significant other. The reason becomes clear the minute your love life goes south.
"My friend Claudia was my first phone call after my breakup," said Jamie, 25, of Sewell, NJ, who recently split from her boyfriend of two years. "I needed someone who would let me cry and get angry and just vent."
Jamie's case was different from most. Ideally, your friend lives within driving distance and is readily available for long phone conversations, in-person venting sessions and, if necessary, a trip to the local club. Claudia, also 25 and a friend of Jamie's since high school, lived thousands of miles away in California. But that didn't stop her from fulfilling her role in the weeks that followed Jamie's breakup.
"I'm sure her phone bill was pretty bad that month," Jamie admitted. "But she never complained about it to me. And a few weeks after my breakup she was able to fly out and we spent the weekend just going out and having a good time, which helped take my mind off things."
Every breakup is different, and even if you've been through your share of heartache, it's impossible to know precisely what to do or say to help your friend heal. Here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind when helping a friend through a breakup.
5 Things You Can Do
- Listen, listen listen - For the next little while, your problems don't exist. Your job is to be an ear for your friend and let him or her vent.
- Be available - Clear your schedule wherever possible for the first month or so post-breakup. Your friend will rely on you for long phone calls, movie nights, coffee dates and whatever else they need to get over the breakup.
- Be the voice of reason - If your friend calls you at midnight with plans to send a ranting email, or take a crowbar to the ex's windshield, it's your job to talk them out of it.
- Provide a swift kick where it's most needed - Be sensitive, but don't let your friend to wallow in his or her darkened apartment for too long. Encourage them to get out of the house to do new things and meet new people.
- Turn on your inner cruise director - Plan outings that will help take your friend's mind off the breakup and get them out of the house. Anything from a shopping trip and lunch to a weekend away can help.
5 Things You Can't Do
- Don't bash the ex - Your friend needs to vent, but joining him or her in the ex bashing will only prolong it. Be there to listen, but don't join in.
- Don't rush your friend through mourning - Phrases such as "You need to move on" or "You need to get out there" mean nothing in the first weeks following a bad breakup. Give your friend time to grieve and be sensitive to the fact that it may be months before they want to even consider dating.
- Don't give specific advice - Leave the dating advice to Dr. Phil. Your job as a friend is to listen and not dole out dating tips. Though you may mean well, what works for you may not work for your friend.
- Don't encourage too many wild nights out - A few nights out at the bar post-breakup are fine, but be careful that you're not encouraging your friend to drown his or her sorrows at the bar or in one-night stands. This can lead to major problems down the road.
- If you're happy, keep it to yourself - If you are in a solid relationship, refrain from discussing it in great length, or worse, using it as an example for your friend. Shoving your happy love life in his or her face would be like rubbing salt in the wound.
More from BounceBack:
Starting Fresh: 6 Tips to Get Over The Past and Find Love Again
When the Ex is Still Around: 6 Ways to Keep Your Cool
Can a broken heart cause actual heart damage? A new study says YES.
BounceBack is changing the way people cope with heartbreak as a result of a breakup or divorce. BounceBack is a place to tell your story, get advice from experts, and share what you've learned with others in similar situations. We're here to remove the negative stigma around being heartbroken - this happens to everyone. And we believe everyone has the potential to bounce back to life and move forward. www.bouncebacktolife.com