Having good friends is something that can greatly enrich life and help us to have more fulfilling and enjoyable experiences. At the same time our friends also operate as a very important support network of people who can help us through our darkest moments and most stressful life events, which can often be the difference between giving up and carrying on stronger and more determined than before.
But having friends is something else too: it’s a responsibility, and you need to think of each one of your friends as someone who might at some point need your help and need you to support them. If you want them to be there when you need them, then it’s important to make sure you are able to do likewise, and if you aren’t willing to go ‘deeper’ by showing emotional support when it’s needed most, then you aren’t really a friend at all.
When Your Friends Need You Most…
And one of the times when our friends need us most is during a breakup, which can be an intensely emotional and difficult time for them. Many of us make the mistake of not really supporting our friends as much as they need us during such occasions because we forget just how traumatic a breakup really is (and in some cases we might never have gone through one). We see our friends upset, but our automatic reaction is often to think ‘no one’s died, so they’ll be alright’.
In reality a breakup means a lot more than just losing someone you love. For most of us who are in relationships our lives become completely intertwined as we end up socialising in the same groups, as we buy joint possessions and eventually often move in together too. This means that breaking up with a long term partner can often also mean losing your friends, being forced to move home, having to throw out photographs of the two of you together (one of the most difficult parts for anyone) and even losing your possessions.
At the same time a break up also means having to completely alter your life plans. Most likely they had intended to settle down with this person and get married, maybe have children, and they probably viewed themselves as ‘on track’ as a result. But when they then find themselves alone it can be like starting from scratch and when all their friends are in relationships this can be very scary and difficult – the future can become very uncertain.
So as a good friend it’s your job to step in – because you’re now the only support they have. Here are some things you can do for them.
Invite Them Out – A Lot
The worst thing that anyone can do when they’ve just been through a breakup is to spend too much time on their own rather than surrounding themselves with other people and liveliness. It’s not at all healthy in this state of mind for them to be left alone with their thoughts, and it’s at this point that it will be most apparent that they’re on their own.
As such then you need to make sure that they continuously get out of the house, and you need to invite them round, invite yourself round theirs and arrange party and events to make sure they stay busy. This can end up feeling almost like they’re living with you and maybe even put strain on your own relationship, but it’s important to be patient for them.
Show Them the Positives of Being Single
While it won’t seem like it at the time, there are lots of positives to being single. It means you’ll have infinitely more time for working on your projects and hobbies meaning that you can really excel at them. It means you can spend more time developing your other relationships such as those with your friends and family, and it means you’ve completely free to do whatever you want whether that means going travelling, quitting your job and taking up a new one or getting a motorbike.
Meanwhile it also means of course that they can go out on nights out and enjoy chatting and flirting again. It will take time before your friend feels ready to start doing those things, but when they do it’s your job to make them seem like the best things in the world. So take your friends out on nights out as their wingman or wingwoman, talk to them about their plans for the future, and if you’re in a relationship try to play that down for the time being at least.
Talk to Them
If they aren’t local then it may be hard to see them as much as you’d like – but it won’t hurt to call them up often so that you can see how they’re doing. Not only will they appreciate that someone is thinking of them, but this way you can also again stop them from mulling things over alone.
And when you talk to your friends you need to make sure they feel free to talk about whatever they want to talk about. This means for instance that if they want to be distracted from the subject, that you should come up with fun things to talk about other than their relationships, but if they do want to discuss what it means to them, then you also need to be ready to talk about deeper things with them.
Help Them Move On
You will also have another job as friend when someone is going through a breakup, and that’s to keep their phone away from them when they’re drunk and to talk them out of sending long letters about how much their heart is broken. In order to move on, it’s necessary at least for a while to stop having contact with the person who hurt you or you will keep on re-opening old wounds. Make sure then that you are willing and able to save them from themselves, and perhaps consider doing something symbolic together like burning old pictures or deleting the number from their phone. Having someone to hold your hand through this process can help a lot and encourage them to move forward with their life.
Organize Your Other Friends
There’s only so much you can do on your own, and the idea is to make this person’s life feel like it’s still fulfilling and exciting. To do encourage this then you’re going to need to make sure that they always have plenty of people they can hang out with and lots to do, so you need to mobilize your other mutual friends and get them to start calling up and inviting them out too. As I said at the start of this article, many people just aren’t aware of how much we need support when we’re going through a breakup, so give them the heads up so that they are able to be there as well.