"If you think business and manners don’t mix, try talking with your mouth full.” - Diane Gottsman, Modern Manners & Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Resource

Helping a Friend Through a Breakup

February 3rd, 2017 by

Dear Diane,

One of my best friends has been dating a guy for almost three years. They recently broke up and I am having a difficult time getting her out of her funk. I’ve tried taking her out for a night on the town and even helped decorate her new apartment so she has a “fresh start.” I understand she’s hurting, but I’m out of ideas on how to cheer her up. I warned her repeatedly about this guy and she is unfortunately learning a lesson the hard way. I have experienced a similar situation in the past and could predict the outcome from the beginning.

What do you suggest I do to help her through this difficult time?


Dear Taylor,

You sound like a great friend. There is no question that breakups are difficult on those going through it personally and often, on their family and friends as well.

I encourage you to be patient and gentle with your friend. She is probably feeling a rush of emotions, from confusion to hurt, and it may take a little time to sort out her feelings. Showing empathy and keeping up with her during this grief period will demonstrate your support and commitment to your friendship.

Take her lead. She may want to be quiet for a while and stay to herself. Or, she may enjoy a distraction from her day to day life. Regular calls and occasional visits will let her know you are there for what she needs. Everyone handles loss in a different way. Remind her it’s okay to have ups and downs. Perhaps the most meaningful step you can take to help your friend recover is to simply listen. Speaking to a trusted friend can be a great benefit. This too shall pass. In time, she will heal and appreciate your kindness and generosity during her breakup.

It’s important to be mindful not to lecture her. Scolding her with “I told you this would happen” is neither kind nor constructive. Also, avoid bringing up your own baggage. Let her have a moment to lean in to her pain. You can talk about your own grief and swap stories later.

Finally, take care of yourself. Set boundaries to ensure her situation isn’t negatively impacting your life. If she has called you for the fifth time in an hour, you will be doing her a favor to suggest she seek wise counsel or find a healthy diversion. Ruminating is not healthy for her or you.

Wishing you both the best,

Share with your network:

Categories: Ask the Etiquette Expert