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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

How to be the Best Friend Possible to a Friend Going Through a Breakup

We’ve all been there – the tissues, the endless rom-coms, tons of ice cream and, of course, stashing their phone when needed. Breakups are hard, but having someone by your side makes all the difference.

As stated in the Best Friend Contract, section five subsection A, “in case of break up, loads of alcohol, Disney movies and ice cream are necessary.” You’ll need a breakup survival emergency kit with the above-mentioned supplies as well as additional provisions. Those may include unflattering selfies of the ex, and daily reminders that he or she ain’t shit.

Forget about the SO

Think of your BFF’s ex as Voldemort—he or she shall not be named. Mentioning their name may bring back memories or feelings for your BFF. Pretending they don’t exist (or died in the battle of Hogwarts) is much more comforting than thinking about what their ex is up to now.

 “Don’t bring up her ex-SO and don’t let her fall into the trap of drunk-texting her ex,” Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth University, says. “Send her a bouquet of roses, take her out for dinner or to the mall, go to the club—just do something fun to remind her that she doesn’t need a SO to be happy!”

Whether your BFF is fighting with her SO or they’ve broken up, friend dates are super necessary during any rough patches in relationships. Some girl time will give her a chance to say things she wouldn’t say to her SO or ex. Now, don’t try to shut your friend up if she mentions her ex either. Validating her feelings and listening to what she has to say is always important.

Delete the old Instagram pictures

Okay, it’s official – your BFF is DONE with her ex. She’s certain they’re never getting back together and it’s time for phase two: deleting the evidence from social media. This step is a MUST if your BFF really wants them out of their life. It might be easier for your BFF if you’re the one to go through and delete all the pictures of them together – that way she won’t be reminded of the good times. Just don’t offer to do it without your BFF asking first; imposing your own inclinations isn’t what she needs right now.

“It all depends on personal preference,” Jessica Morley, a student at University of South Wales, says. “If it was a really emotional time, then maybe it’s best to just block instead of being reminded of that person, but, if you could be strong and be the better person, I would not block them because it looks like you care and one day it will get easier, and you will see [their] name and not think twice.”

Dr. Betsy Guerra, a licensed psychotherapist in Miami, has helped clients from all backgrounds and types of psychological concerns, and she mainly deals with psychodynamic behaviors and cognitive-behavioral techniques. She says, “Those memories are part of your life, and even when deleted from a phone they remain in your heart. Healing comes from within. However, if you find yourself obsessing over pictures, [their] social media, or looking at your phone to see if [they’ve] written or called – then it may be appropriate to put boundaries on yourself by either deleting pictures or blocking him to ease your anxiety. On the other hand, keeping those pictures helps some women work on their willpower by training themselves to not look at them if it’s hurtful. It can also help revive memories of why you are broken up and reassure you of the decision.”

Every breakup is different, and even if it’s a mutual split, every person can react differently. It’s imperative to know how your friend wants to deal with her feelings so you can be there for her in the best way possible. Maybe she doesn’t want to delete the old pictures, and that’s okay! Instead, you can be there by helping her avoid slipping back into a potentially toxic relationship.

Dust off the old dating profile

Phase three: help her set up a dating profile. You’ll need to have a random photoshoot for your BFF so she can post the pics on Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, etc. Instead of a bland profile description, your job as a BFF is to remind them how great they are and how they should present themselves on these sites—”I’m a boss ass Virgo with great tits and aspirations.” That is, of course, if your friend is actually ready to open her profile.

Dr. Guerra, however, suggests being cautious of opening a dating profile while trying to heal. “If you’re ready to start dating, open the dating profile. If you’re doing it to heal, beware!” she says. “All too often I see people live by the saying ‘un clavo saca a otro,’ When translated, it means ‘one nail can remove another nail,’ this refers to when you start dating someone to forget your ex, or fall in love with a new person to get over the old one. While this may feel good and end up being a blessing, it is quite possible that starting a new relationship without grieving the last one will only postpone pain and growth. We all have something to learn from breakups,” she says. “Open the dating profile when you’ve reflected on all those questions (about the previous relationship) and are ready to choose right and engage in healthy relational interactions. Don’t open it to ‘heal’. You heal by grieving and honoring the pain that losing a loved one entails.”

Even if your friend isn’t quite ready for the dating scene, creating the profile and swiping through potential matches can help her feel better. She can start to see some of the other fish in the sea instead of only swiping through old relationship pictures.  

Related: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Date Someone New

The three L’s – listen, listen, LISTEN

Nothing is worse than using your own experiences as a comparison to help someone else feel better. No, the one time your cat died does not compare to my great-grandma passing away. The same thing goes with breakups. A break-up from a two-month relationship is going to be totally different than one from a long-term relationship.

Lola George, a junior from the University of North Texas, says, “Understand when your friend needs support versus advice. Sometimes they just want a listening ear and comfort or positivity, and sometimes they truly need advice for moving on or coping,” she says. “It’s important to be empathetic and understand the proper time to comfort versus advice. Giving advice when they need comfort seems insensitive or like you’re trying to ‘fix’ things, while only giving comfort when your friend needs advice will leave them complacent and slows down the process of recovering.”

Lola has a good point—sometimes your friend doesn’t need you to try to fix things. Instead, all she needs is a good ear and a shoulder to cry on. Giving advice can come across as something negative, almost as if you’re telling them, “You messed up, here’s how you can fix it.”

Dr. Guerra also emphasizes the difference between advice and support. “When you give advice, you should be open to the other person deciding whether or not she wants to take it in and implement it. Support, however, is unconditional,” she says. “You are there for the person whether she agrees with your perspective or not. Your support is shaped by the recipient’s needs, not your very own.”

Chances are, your friend already knows her ex is garbage. Repeatedly telling her will probably make her feel worse. Letting her vent about all the bad things her ex put her through will give her a self-realization that she deserves better. In these cases, silence is golden.

Related: 5 Things You Should Feel Comfortable Telling Your Best Friend

No matter what, you should always be there for your BFF. Whether you’re ready with a plate of cookies to emotionally binge eat or with a bottle of her favorite wine, just being there for her in her time of need is the best thing you can do. Most importantly, be patient and try your best to get her mind off it.

Kayleen is a senior at Florida International University and is pursuing her dream career as a journalist. She is addicted to HGTV and original shows on Netflix. Proud of her Cuban heritage, she rocks hoop earrings and cannot go a day without her pastelitos. You can find her on Instagram as @Mongaleen or follow her Disney account @Disneyleen.