If I’ve learned anything from watching my girlfriends go through terrible relationships and worse breakups it’s that no one really handles love and its aftermath the same way. Since no couple or relationship is alike, it’s hard to give my girls advice, so I don’t. Here’s what I do to support them instead.
I always validate their feelings. Even if my girl is bawling her eyes out over a douchey guy who’s not worth her time, I remember she’s still hurting and I make sure she knows that’s OK. People need to know what they’re dealing with is normal because insecurity often comes with a breakup. My friends need to know they’re not ridiculous no matter how ridiculous the situation actually is.
I make it a point to just listen. Sometimes a person just needs to be heard. They need to vent and get all the pent-up emotion out there and letting them unload on me is better than having them unload on their ex-boyfriend’s voicemail. The majority of the time, they feel so much better after a lengthy rant session and can start to focus on other things. It never does anyone any good to keep things bottled up, so I make sure they know I’m there for them to share those feelings with.
I make myself as available as possible. Whether my girlfriends need a night of chick flicks and ice cream or shots at a dance club, I’m there. Support is what counts and it’s important for them to feel like someone has their back. Even if I can’t be there in person, I’ll make sure I don’t ignore their texts or calls. Even a simple smiley face during the day can perk a person up.
I remind them of who they are. I love to tell my girls just what makes me love them and what made them love themselves before boys got in the way. If they love cooking, I’ll sign us up for a cooking class. If one is a runner, I’ll slide on some tennis shoes and pretend I can run too. I’ve been there and I always feel better and less lost when I remember all the great things about myself that I can’t help but share that with my friends when they need it.
I commiserate with my own experiences. So, maybe giving advice isn’t the best thing but if I really feel they need some perspective and they’re open to it, I try to give them something tried and true. I maybe can’t relate to everything they’re going through but I’ve had my share of breakups so I can usually offer something that will help them out. I’ve found pulling from my own experiences makes things a lot more relatable and can put a lot into perspective.
I build up their confidence if they have a breakthrough. I know a lot of times it seems like when you’re helping a friend go through something difficult, you’re trying to run the show. I make sure it doesn’t seem this way by building them up when they do hit a milestone in their recovery. Any bit of confidence helps them move forward and it serves as great motivation for them to keep putting the work in to get over him and make themselves happy.
I play the devil’s advocate. Going through a breakup causes a lot of one-sided views. People tend to see things the way they want to see them and need to be snapped out of it if it goes too far. I’m happy to offer that perspective. They’re hurt and vulnerable but maybe seeing the other side of things will cheer them up. If they’re constantly blaming themselves for things going south, maybe I need to remind them that the guys weren’t all that perfect for them anyway? If she’s they’re dead set on getting revenge, I try to tell her that probably won’t feel so great in the long run.
I’m not afraid to give tough love. Wallowing in bed for a week is completely understandable given the circumstances, but if it isn’t getting any better, I’m going to get them out of bed and take them to brunch. If they can’t get over the fact that it’s over, in between supporting them, I’m going to say at some point, they need to start accepting the reality of what happened. I’m not going to be mean about it, but they also need to make sure this isn’t going into a deep hole, and I want to be there to yank them out if they start to spiral. I love my friends and know they deserve happiness.
Overall, I have to let them find their own path. As I’ve said, everyone has their own process and as much as I want to make sure my ladies don’t backstep, it’s going to happen. They’re human and sometimes we all need to fail. I know that’s how people eventually learn and get back on their feet, so sometimes I have to step back and let them find their own way. I’m careful to stay close and available so that if something goes wrong, they know they have a friend, but it’s really important they do most of the work on their own.
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