Talking to a friend who’s just been dumped can feel like walking on eggshells. Though you’re trying to be helpful, it’s easy to say the wrong thing and make everything worse. The trick is to be sensitive and have empathy—try to imagine what you would want to hear if you were in their position. Here’s what to say (and what not to say!) to your friend when they get dumped.
- Let them feel upset. When your friend feels upset, you might want to tell them to cheer up. Comments like, “Don’t be sad!” or “You’ll be fine!” might come from good intentions. But they can actually make your friend feel like their feelings don’t matter. Or they shouldn’t be sad, when they actually have a right to feel anything at all. So rather than engaging in toxic positivity, give your friend space to feel sad. Let them know that it’s okay to feel upset, especially given the circumstances. Try not to trivialize the experience by brushing it off or making it seem like it’s not a big deal. A comment like, “That must be so tough,” or, “Of course you’re sad and that’s okay,” would be better.
- Avoid pointing out their mistakes. If the relationship failed because of your friend’s actions, that makes things awkward. Still, as their friend and support, you should avoid pointing that out. Instead, just be there for them to cry to. Your job isn’t to diagnose what went wrong in the relationship. It’s to make them feel better now. If they do recognize and talk about their own mistakes, be there to listen. But again, don’t make them feel worse by acknowledging that it’s their fault. If that’s what you’re thinking, it’s better to stay quiet and just listen. And if they ask for your opinion, you could say that we all make mistakes and they should focus on feeling better. Analyzing the relationship can come after they’ve healed a little.
- Tell them they won’t always feel this way. Reminding them that they won’t always feel this way is better than telling them not to be sad. Because it’s true! There is light at the end of the tunnel. They might feel like things will never get better, so it’s helpful to let them know that they definitely will. This lets them embrace how they’re feeling now while still giving them hope that things will be okay.
- Don’t bring up dating again. Resist the temptation to encourage them to date again. Getting back on the horse might be the ultimate goal, but they’re not likely to be in that state of mind after being dumped. Bringing up dating again can lead to all sorts of negative emotions. They might feel like they have to get over their sadness quickly, which they don’t. Likely, they aren’t ready to even think about dating someone else.
- Let them know they’re not alone in getting dumped. It can make your friend feel better to know that they’re not alone in being dumped. Misery loves company! You can tell them that this is how you felt when you went through a similar experience, and confirm that it does get better. If you’re going to tell them about your experience, try not to hijack the conversation. When you’re upset, the last thing you need is for a friend to get carried away talking about themselves.
- Ask them what they need. Everyone is different and all dumping situations are different. You probably don’t know exactly what will make your friend feel better, so there’s no harm in asking. Some people will want to cry it out alone. Others will want friends by their side all the time. Just ask them what they need from you, even if it’s doing the grocery shopping because they can’t get off the couch.
- Tell them you’re there for them. If they can’t tell you what they need because they don’t know themselves, just let them know that you’re there for them. Maybe they’ll figure out what they need from you in a little while. Maybe they’ll feel safer about asking in a few days. Let them know that when they’re ready to ask, you’ll be there. It will also help them to know that they’re not all alone as they go through something really tough.
- Remind them why they’re fabulous. Don’t do toxic positivity, but do tell them why they’re fabulous. Make your friend feel good about themselves at a time when their self-esteem is probably taking a major hit. Even if they don’t want to listen, remind them that the opinion of one person who dumped them doesn’t define who they are.