When a friend’s just been dumped, a kind, sensitive word can be just the tonic for helping mend the pain of a broken heart. But if you say the wrong thing you’ll be in danger of having your head bitten off. Here’s our handy list of what not to say…
1. I’m devastated!
It’s not just your friend who won’t be seeing his or her ex any more – you will probably lose touch with them, too, and this can be a bit disappointing. But anything you’re feeling is nothing compared to the loss that your friend is dealing with. Plus the last thing they’ll want is to feel guilty for letting everyone else down, or to think their mates are more concerned about their own social lives than his or her feelings, so put selfish thoughts aside.
2. You were such a great couple to hang out with
Maybe they were fantastically fun as a pair and you might think you’re helping by telling your friend this but, at this precise moment, you’re really not. Break-ups can be a real confidence knock, especially if the relationship’s lasted a while – your friend might be worrying how they’ll re-adjust to being alone. Comments like this run the risk of implying your friend isn’t going to be as fun, or popular, now they don’t have their ‘other half’. Focus on building up their self-esteem, reminding them they’re great and that you love them.
3. I never liked him anyway
You might think this will make your friend feel better but, even if you didn’t like their partner, remember that the end of a relationship is always a grieving process – and your friend will need time to come to terms with it. Also, bring this up for the first time now and you’ll need to prepare for a possible awkward conversation – your pal might wonder why you didn’t share your concerns sooner. Plus, there’s always that chance they’ll end up back together and you’ll have some serious back-tracking to do.
4. Let’s go out on the pull!
You can secretly look forward to a night on the town together, but your pal may need a bit of time and space before launching back onto the dating scene. Besides, there’s truth to the old cliché that you need to be happy on your own before you can be happy with someone else. Lend a shoulder to cry on and let your mate deal with the break-up before suggesting they seek a new flame. They’ll probably bring up the idea themselves when they’re ready.
5. Told you it wouldn’t last
Even if you had a feeling the relationship was doomed from the start, it will just seem like you’re gloating if you mention this now. It will also sound as if you have no faith in your friend’s choices of partner, which your pal may interpret as criticism. This is the last thing they need when they’re feeling fragile already.
6. There are more important things in life
Of course, the economic meltdown and crisis in Syria are bigger deals than being dumped in the grand scheme of things, but when your heart is broken it’s difficult to think about anything else. And reminding your friend of other issues in the world won’t mean they can switch off their emotions easily. A break-up is one of the rare occasions where it’s acceptable to wallow in a bit of self-pity, so give your pal the sympathy they need, and remember how awful you felt last time you went through a break-up.
7. Have a drink and forget about it
Alcohol may help mask the pain in the short term, but it’s never a good idea to seek solace in the bottle. And suggesting your pal try and forget the situation will only sound as if you’re trivialising their problems and making light of what was an important relationship. Do share a bottle of wine and a tub of ice cream with your mate if it makes them feel better, but remember it’s probably the social contact and the friendship that’s really making the difference.
8. Why don’t you get back together?
If you can see there’s a way the couple can be reconciled, then by all means suggest they try. But break-ups tend to happen for a reason and outsiders rarely know the ins and outs of someone else’s relationship. Even if your friend’s upset, they may know deep down that it had to happen. Rather than suggesting something that may be futile, it is a better idea to just show them you’re there for them, so they know they’re not alone.
9. It’s great being single
You may love the single life and your friend might grow to love it too, but it can be daunting to someone who’s used to being in a couple. Tread carefully, showing rather than telling how you enjoy the dating scene. If you make an effort to fit your friend in your life as much as possible now that they’re going through a hard time, it may have the effect of reminding them what they were missing when they were swept up in their relationship.
10. Are you still talking about this?
You may have had a long day at work, and need to fit in a mountain of chores before dinner, but don’t roll your eyes and express your impatience if they want to discuss their ex again. The heart can take a long time to heal, even if you seem to be going over old ground. If it’s a bad time to talk, just gently rearrange a time which will be better.