Sometimes we are the heartbroken, and sometimes we are comforting the heartbroken. No matter how much experience you have with breakups, it doesn’t prepare you for how to comfort a friend who is going through one.
If you’ve gone through a breakup before you already know the pain your friend is feeling, however, we all respond to breakups differently. Relationships are unique, as are their hardships, so when one ends, it’s isolating—even though heartbreak is universal.
It’s tempting to cheer up a heartbroken friend by bashing their ex, but that’s not always what your friend needs. Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything at all. Sometimes it’s just about listening.
In her book “How To Stop Feeling Like Shit,” Andrea Owen suggests we all find a compassionate witness. A compassionate witness is someone who won’t judge, insert their opinions, or try to one-up your problems. It’s a friend or loved one or therapist who you feel comfortable sharing what troubles you because they will do nothing more than listen.
A listening ear, that's the most significant thing you can do to help your heartbroken friend. If your friend wants your advice, they’ll ask. You can tell them to let you know if they need more from you, but that you’re there to listen. Allow them to vent, be their shoulder to cry on. The best way to be there for a heartbroken friend is to show up as a compassionate witness.