Break ups are tough, there’s the tearful phonecalls, the angry rants and the endless evenings of bad romantic comedies – did I mention this is my experience as a friend of someone going through a break up? People often forget about the friends of the couple when a relationship breaks up: those who are there to offer tea and sympathy or in my case, wine, Ben and Jerry’s and some face masks. If you are one of those (amazing and selfless) friends supporting someone through a break up, here is a guide to help you through it.
1) Be On Call
Somewhere under the duvet and emotional trauma is your friend.
One Saturday night I was just settling down with the remote, the sofa and my duvet when I received a call from my friend going through a break up, ‘’Are you busy?’’ she asked ‘’I just feel a bit down’’. It was cold and dark outside and there was nothing more I wanted to do but lounge on the sofa in the most unattractive way, but at nine o clock on a Saturday I gave up my ‘’me time’’ and got dressed and walked to her house and played (and lost) board games. When a friend is going through a break up, you have to put yourself second sometimes, you are no longer just their friend, but their unpaid therapist as well. Expect tearful phone calls, and indulge this stage because although it’s intense, this feeling of utter devastation will soon give way to rage.
2) Let them vent
Your friend after they’ve bench pressed all their rage.
The first stage of a break up is the mourning period where they cry at things like ‘’their song’’ or when they see happy couples in street, this will eventually turn into rage. I listened to my friends vent in a variety of locations, but the most memorable one is at the gym when we were on the cross trainer. As my friend ranted about her ex and got angrier and angrier the harder she worked out. By the time she hit the thirty minute mark and she was telling me (and the entire gym) how angry she was, her arms and legs had just become a blur of frantic movement. They’ll no longer look longingly at smooching couples but sneer at them, try and hold your friend back from pelting such couples with stones though or shouting remarks like ‘’It’s all good till they CHEAT ON YOU’’.
One key thing to remember at this stage is NEVER TAKE SIDES. Try and remain dipolomatic because if you start slagging their ex off and they get back together then you can’t take back all the mean things you said.
3) Build up their self confidence
Try not to let your friend’s self esteem get THIS high.
Break ups make you question your own self worth, and when piecing together the emotional wreck that used to be your friend, you need to pay special attention to their self esteem. In the initial stages, it’s perfectly acceptable to let them cry into a bowl of ice cream on the sofa whilst listening to ‘’I will always love you’’ (and this isn’t restricted to girls, boys are just as sensitive as girls). However, there will come a point when you will have to prise the caramel ice cream out of their hands and get them out and feeling good about themselves.
Encourage your friend to join the gym, take up a new hobby and take them shopping. Try and give them at least one compliment a day that is SINCERE. There’s no point saying ‘’You look really fresh this morning! Like a model!’’ if they’re ridiculously hungover and wearing the hood on their hoodie up to avoid the sunlight.
4) Encourage them to get back on the horse
Before you ask, no, this isn’t a euphemism. The one thing to encourage your friend to do is go on a few casual dates. I encouraged my friend to go on a date with a guy who was perfectly nice even though she wasn’t enarmoured by him, ‘’Give him a chance, you may really like him’’ I told her. After their date she told me she had a really nice time but she wasn’t into him, however, when she told me that she let him buy their drinks all night I almost cried. In rebuilding my friend I’d hoped encouraging her to go on some dates would boost her self esteem and not turn her into a practical gold digger letting a guy buy her expensive drinks all night (£3.50 for a vodka and mixer – outrageous!) and only thanking the poor boy with a hug.
One thing to do at this stage is to ensure your friend is emotionally ready for dating. The last thing you want is for a slushy love song to come on and your friend to start bawling whilst on a date, because then you’ll regress back to the crying on the sofa with ice cream stage and this is not good for their health or waistline.
5) Take them to places that won’t remind them of their ex
When my friend was furiously exercising on the cross trainer whilst ranting she told me she can’t go back to certain clubs and bars because ‘’It’s been tainted by HIM’’. When going out with your friend make sure they are new and exciting places; try and avoid alcohol in the beginning because it may make them emotional, so try things ridiculous like the zoo or a day trip to a new city.
When they feel ready for a night out, take them somewhere new and make sure you STICK WITH THEM. Your friend will be feeling a bit fragile and the last thing they’ll want to see is their friend with their tongue down some randomers throat (if you’re into that). Have a few drinks, have a boogie and ensure your friend doesn’t throw themselves at the first cretin that pays them attention. If they wake up the next morning to a randomer, they will never forgive you, and you’d be a REALLY bad friend.