How to Help Someone with a Broken Heart
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We know how devastating it must be to see your friend hurting. You want to help but you don’t know how to help someone with a broken heart. Anything you might say doesn’t seem enough. Of course, you can’t “make the pain go away” but you can be there for your friend. Offering love and support is crucial in times like these. Being a good friend can do a lot when it comes to healing a broken heart. Even stuff you think might be insufficient can be very helpful in the long run.
After we’ve researched this subject quite some time, we’ve found very useful advice for someone with a broken heart. Think about it for a while after you read the article and you’ll surely find some way to help your friend.
Before you keep reading, we’d like to remind you of some important things:
- When helping a friend, it’s crucial to take small steps. Don’t force him/her to do something if he/she is not ready.
- During tough times like a heartbreak, your friend might be a little selfish and ignore your feelings. Try to be understanding and not hold this against him/her.
- If you think that your friend is having an especially hard time, encourage him/her to talk to a therapist. This is especially important if you noticed that your friend drastically changed his/her usual behavior. Maybe he/she is drinking excessively or sharing depressing thoughts? That’s a cry for help and you need to recognize it!
The period after a break-up
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Let it all out!
You can’t bottle the emotions and put them aside. They will come back to haunt you sooner or later. The sadness is inevitable, so embrace it! That’s why you must encourage your friend to grieve now. After that, healing can be possible!
In order to deal with the emotions, your friend will need your help. If you don’t know what to say to someone who has a broken heart, we have some suggestions. Emphasize that you are there for him/her, that’s it’s okay to cry, to yell, to be angry. All feelings are valid, so face them in full force!
If your friend is a closed up person, it might be harder for him/her to share the feelings. Don’t force him/her, just clearly state that it’s okay to feel hurt. Explain that it would be easier to let go of the past if he/she tackles the emotions heads-on.
Note that every person and every break up is different. There is no right time to “move on” and there are no textbooks examples of the healing process. Your friend can go as fast as he/she wants and you shouldn’t pass judgment because of it.
“The stages of grief” are not the same for every person. Usually, it goes something like: sadness, shock, remorse, withdrawal, and then acceptance. However, most of the time, things get a little bit mixed up! The stages don’t even happen successively! You’ll never get really “over it”, but the pain does get easier to bear. When you realize why things had to end, you can accept the idea of moving on.
Be sure that your friend knows you’re willing to listen. Let your friend talk as much as he/she wants. Focus your attention exclusively on that and don’t interrupt his/her speech. Sharing feelings helps with the broken heart because it takes the burden of the chest and helps with self-realization.
You shouldn’t offer your opinions and advice. Instead, acknowledge your friend’s experience and encourage him/her to open up even more. When offering help to get over a broken heart, you need to be a catalyzer for the process of self-healing. Reach out to your friend as soon as you hear about the break-up. Sometimes people want to talk but fear about burdening the other person. That’s why you need to make it clear you’ll be there for everything.
If you need things to say to a heartbroken friend, offer support with sentences like these:
- “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this because I know how much it hurts.”
- “You don’t have to go through it alone. My door is always open and I’m here for you.”
- “Text me anytime you want. Also if you feel the urge to send a message to your ex, text me instead.”
- “If you want to cry, vent, or just hang out, don’t hesitate to call me!”
- “Take as much time as you need. There’s no rush.”
Check up on your friend
Daily calls and frequent texts might be needed in the first few weeks after the break-up. Nobody can heal in a day or two, so let your friend know you’ll be there for the long run. Always send reminders of your support. They can come in the form of silly memes, cheer up songs, or anything else you can think of.
Don’t wait for your friend to reach out. Somebody going through a heartbreak wouldn’t be comfortable to call, text, or ask for help. That’s why you need to call first! Depending on how close the two of you are, check how he/she is doing on a daily basis or every few days.
Help out with small things
People with broken hearts have their focus set on the pain, so they might neglect their everyday tasks like house chores, school responsibilities, work assignments, etc. Why don’t you offer to help your friend with the stuff he/she is putting aside? For example, make a wonderful lunch for the two of you, or help with the essay that has a deadline approaching. If your friend declines your help, don’t push it. Just let him/her know that your offer is open at any time.
Your primary role is to give a morale boost, lift the mood and give encouragement! Give honest and specific compliments and praise your friend’s qualities. Hard times occur in everyone’s lives more than once and we all survived! Emphasize how your friend proudly handled all the difficulties before, so you’ll give him/her courage to fight out of this situation too.
When you’ve been heartbroken, all you want to do is stay at home, watch tv shows, and eat sweets. That’s completely normal and it’s even good for a while. However, sooner or later, you need to get up and start being active again! Of course, you don’t have the motivation and strength to do that alone. That’s when a friend’s help is needed the most.
If you don’t know how to help a friend with a broken heart, think about getting him/her out of the house. Come up with some fun things to do with a dog outside and encourage your friend to go out with you and your pet. Don’t let the weather stop you either! You can have fun in the rain too. You just need to get him/her out, no matter the conditions!
Your friend needs to learn to do things without the ex. New hobbies and activities that won’t remind him/her of the previous partner are more than welcome. Encourage him/her to meet new friends by introducing him/her with some people. All these things can help putting the mind off the break-up.
Choose an activity your friend would like. Consider for example:
- Various hobbies like photography, knitting, camping, etc.
- Volunteering and other generosity activities for adults.
- Staging a photoshoot. Whether in nature or indoors, it’s a great way to have fun.
- Hitting the bars, having a few drinks and casually flirting with people around.
- A weekend away. Explore a new city or a national park for a day or two.
- Exercising and playing sports such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, etc.
Keep your friend from making mistakes
Social media detox
When they experience heartbreak, some people would like the whole world to know. Oversharing and ranting online are very frequent. Don’t let your friend do that and try to convince him/her to take some time away from social media. Not only will he/she keep personal details private, but he/she will also avoid seeing ex’s posts about the breakup. Discourage obsessive behavior you’ve noticed. Stop your friend form checking the ex’s feed on Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Preventing unhealthy habits
When people are hurting and going through a heartbreak, they easily neglect their health. They start sleeping a lot (or not sleeping at all), eating unhealthy food, drinking a lot, etc. You should be concerned that your friend doesn’t make a habit of unhealthy behaviors such as these. Remind him/her to make healthier choices that can help him/her in the long run.
There are a lot of different opinions about whether rebound relationships are good or not. Some people think it’s good to “get back out there” while others are skeptical of finding a new partner so quickly. If your friend jumped into a new relationship right away, don’t judge him/her. Just observe the situation with caution. The void left by the ex partner can rarely be filled easily and a lot of people get hurt in rebound relationships. However, that’s a lesson your friend should learn on his/her own.
Things you should definitely avoid
Let’s go through a quick list of “don’ts” and repeat a few things, just in case.
- Don’t give overly cheerful encouragement. It sounds fake and not fitting the situation.
- Don’t say anything negative about the ex even if it’s justified. It might make your friend feel better for a moment but he/she is still in love so criticism of the ex hurts.
- Avoid advising unless your friend specifically asks for advice.
- Be empathetic instead of judgemental. Simply acknowledge the pain your friend is going through without criticism.
- Don’t use cliché sentences. How would it help if you say “I’m sure you’re learning a valuable lesson from this experience”?
- Don’t trivialize your friend’s situation by saying that “everything happens for a reason”.
- It’s really important not to push it. We know you want to help your friend but there’s a limited number of things you can do. In the end, your friend needs to help himself/herself first. Keep your expectations low and don’t force them to “get over it”. No one can just “hurry and stop being sad”.
- Don’t say that this experience will soon be a distant memory. During heartbreak, you don’t want to see an entire relationship as a memory, so why would you say something like this?
If you come up with the idea of how to comfort someone with a broken heart, you need to ask yourself first “How does this help”. If you can’t answer that question, avoid that idea because it apparently isn’t helpful. Even the best intentions can sometimes hurt a lot, so pick your words carefully.
Ending a relationship is never easy. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first or fifth relationship, how long it lasted or whether you’re the one who ended it. You’ll be heartbroken nonetheless. A broken heart needs time to heal and people have their own pace. We tried to let you know how to help someone with a broken heart but take our advice with caution. Follow your guts and you’ll do the right thing for your friend that’s for sure.
It’s okay if the only thing you can say is “I’m sorry to hear about the break-up. I wish to help you somehow”. Sometimes saying nothing and being there with your care and compassion is good enough! You can even read helpful advice together with your friend. For example, take a look at this article on things to do after a break-up with a boyfriend or a girlfriend.
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