Real Ways to Help a Friend Going Through a Breakup

What you say and do can help your friend through this tough time and let them know you really care.

Published May 15, 2023
A young woman comforting her friend

There are times in life when having (and being) a friend really matters, and the end of a relationship is one of them. Still, it's not always easy to know how to help a friend going through a breakup. The fact that you're thinking about what to say and how to help means you're already on the right track, though. You've got this. Step one is just picking up your phone.

How to Comfort a Friend After a Breakup Over Text

Texting gets a bad rap sometimes for being a little impersonal, but the truth is, it's one of the best ways to support your friend in the short term. They'll get your message right now, not after work or over the weekend or when you both have time. This is the quickest way to show you care, and you can follow it up later with a more involved gesture.

These example texts can help inspire you to reach out when they need you most:

  • How are you really doing today? Here if you need me.
  • I'm so sorry to hear about you and Taylor. Here if you need to talk later.
  • Thinking of you. How are you feeling today?
  • I know it's rough right now. Want to hang out later?
  • Remember, I'm your person, so if you need anything, just let me know.
  • You're so strong and awesome. I know this is hard right now, but I think you're amazing.

Ways to Comfort Someone Over the Phone or in Person

A phone call or in-person visit gives you more of a chance to pick up some non-verbal communication about how your friend is really doing. Their tone of voice and whether they seem to be in control of their emotions can help you adjust your words of comfort to fit the situation.

Try some of these comforting words to show you care:

  • You're not alone. I'm here with you. Talk to me.
  • I know you might not know exactly what you need right now, but if you think of anything, I'm here.
  • You're an amazing person. You're going to get through this.
  • I know it might not feel like it right now, but you're one of the strongest people I know.
  • Can I just remind you how great you are?
  • Feeling sad is totally allowed here. I promise it will get better, but that doesn't change how it feels right now.

Things You Can Do to Help a Friend Going Through a Breakup

What you say matters, but sometimes, actions can speak even louder than words. Here are some practical and comforting things you can do to help your friend feel supported.

Friend with relationship difficulties

Simply Listen

Often, it's less about saying the perfect thing and more about being the perfect listener. Try to listen actively if you can. This means rephrasing the most important thing they said in a natural way.

For example, your friend might say, "I just can't stop crying. I don't know how I'm ever going to be happy again." You could respond with something like, "It sounds like you're feeling so sad about this."

Quick Tip

What do you say if your friend is crying over their ex? Often, you don't have to say anything. A hug can do wonders, as can simply letting them know you're there.

Suggest Something You Can Do Together

If the breakup is super fresh, your friend might not be ready to get out and do anything. However, being active and changing up their routine can go a long way toward making them feel like themselves again. Don't push anything, but ask if they'd like to join you for an activity.

Some of the options might be going to a movie (no sad romances), taking a hike together, trying a new craft you both want to learn, or even just going out to a bookstore or fun shop.

Validate Their Feelings

Every feeling is valid, but it doesn't always seem that way when you're in the middle of a breakup. If you hear your friend discounting their feelings with statements like "I'm sorry I'm so upset" or "I know I'm making a big deal out of this," remind them that it's okay to feel however they feel. This is an emotionally intense experience.

It's also okay if they're not upset. Sometimes, the breakup might be a relief in some ways, and they may feel guilty for not being sad. Let them know that anything they are feeling is okay.

Talk About How Strong They Are

When someone has been in a relationship for a while, it can affect how they see themselves. Your friend might not be sure who they are right now. You can help them feel a little less lost by reminding them of their emotional strength and general awesomeness.

Be specific if you can. Mention specific qualities they have or amazing things they've done.

What Not to Say to a Friend Dealing With a Breakup

There aren't a ton of rules about what you shouldn't say in this sort of situation, but try to stay away from offering empty reassurances or dismissing how they feel. Here are a few things you should avoid:

  • There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  • You only dated for a few months! Why are you so upset?
  • You'll find someone else.
  • I didn't like them, anyway. You're way better off without them.
  • Oh, too bad! I really liked this one!

Let Them Know You Are There

The most important thing you can do in this situation is let your friend know you care and are there to help them through this. A breakup can be a huge deal or a small hiccup, but it's always easier when you have your people in your corner. The most effective way to help a friend through a breakup is simply to listen well and be there when they need you.

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Real Ways to Help a Friend Going Through a Breakup