We all want to reach out and comfort a friend after a breakup, but it's surprisingly easy to make things worse, especially if we stick to the usual clichéd advice that comes all too readily to mind. Here are a few things never to say to a friend whose relationship just ended:
1. I never liked him anyway
But your friend did like him, so this comment criticizes her taste and doesn't supply any sort of comfort. If you saw this break up coming, it's best to keep that to yourself, too. Your friend will wonder why you kept quite - after all, if you didn't think he was a good match, she might not have dated him.
Telling her this will also make it particularly awkward if they get back together in the future. No matter how unlikely that seems right now, it could easily happen.
This probably isn't a good time to reveal that you knew something bad about him and didn't tell her. It's especially inadvisable if you're not even sure if it's true. We hear all sorts of things when mutual friends are dating and breaking up, and not all of it is accurate.
If he did cheat on her, it will probably come out sooner or later. It's best to let that happen later one - it doesn't hurt so much if your friend has already dealt with the heartbreak and moved on.
3. There are plenty more fish in the sea
This is perhaps the most clichéd thing any of us can say (or hear) when a relationship ends. I've never heard anyone say they found this phrase helpful. If anything, your saying to your friend that her feelings about her former love don't really matter, because there are plenty of other random men she can be with.
4. I saw on Facebook that he's devastated/fine/seeing someone else
It's very tempting to keep track of your ex on Facebook or other social media sites, but it's not a healthy choice. In fact, according to one survey, it can seriously hinder emotional healing and your ability to recover from the pain of the breakup.
Maybe your friend has done the sensible thing and unfriended, unfollowed or simply decided to not look at her ex partner's social media activity. Maybe he has decided to unfriend or block her. Either way, it's probably not helpful to draw her attention to what he's posting online. It's unlikely to make her feel any better.
I came across this statement on social media recently and found it particularly relevent to relationships:
"Everything does happen for a reason, but sometimes it's a really stupid reason."
It's true. Sometimes things happen for very stupid reasons. Sometimes they happen for a good reason. Often something very positive comes out of a breakup, but it's hard to see what that is until you have the benefit of hindsight.
If you really want to help your friend, the best thing to do is listen and offer support as she tries to work out what to do next. You don't have to decide that for her, or pretend to have any solutions. It's fine to say, "I don't really have any way to make it better, but I love you and I'm always here for you." She just needs your support. When she feels up to it, try a little distraction - invite her out to take her mind off her broken relationship.
It's hard to say the right thing after a breakup, because often there is no right thing to say. Often all you can do is be there for her until she feels better.