While watching your buddy cry her eyes out over some unworthy jerk isn’t nearly as painful as getting the heave-ho yourself, it’s still difficult. Most of us want to help our BFFs through breakups, but what do you say? Or, more importantly, what shouldn’t you say?
1. Now is not the time to tell her how much you always hated him — but never bothered to tell her. Jennifer Kelton, CEO and founder of BadOnlineDates.com, had one pal who told her, “I have a friend who dated your ex years ago—and she had absolutely nothing nice to say about him.” When asked why she didn’t share this information earlier, her friend told her, “You seemed so happy.” Your job is to pass the Kleenex and buy the beer—not make her feel like an idiot for having dated him in the first place.
2. Even worse are the friends who remind you of every snippy thing you ever said about your ex. Carly S. went through this with one of her friends: “If you’re my friend, you’d better listen to me complain about boys and not throw it back in my face later!” Exactly. Sure, you may have complained about his snoring or eating beef jerky for breakfast, but there were plenty of other things you really liked about the big lug.
One of the most egregious examples of this happened to my friend Nita. “The day after my abortion—which I had because he left me for another woman, and I couldn’t raise a child alone—my ‘friend’ Jackie told me how happy my ex-husband seemed with his new, much younger girlfriend.” It goes without saying Nita and Jackie the Jackal are no longer friends.
4. Don’t wait until after the breakup to rat out bad behavior. Susanne had humiliation added to her heartbreak after her boyfriend dumped her. “Right after we broke up—and it was a fairly serious relationship—I was told by so many people that he’d been screwing around on me nonstop.” If you know your friend’s partner is being shady, the time to tell her is the exact second you find out.
5. Don’t even think about dating your friend’s ex until the dust has cleared, the tears have dried, and she’s written you a legal document okaying your liaison. Again, Nita had to deal with a backstabbing “friend” who went home with her now-ex/then-current husband after Nita and he had a horrible argument one night. “I didn’t find out about that until after we were divorced.” Is it any wonder Nita has a slight problem trusting other women?
Being a good friend isn’t brain surgery. Even if your pal seems to be slightly rewriting history, you don’t know what went on in their relationship. Distract her. A good friend of mine took me out for a spa day after a gut-wrenching breakup. Sparkly nail polish didn’t heal my boo-boo, but it made me forget about my broken heart for a few minutes. Be patient. She may repeat herself, and that’s okay. Just nod, agree, pass her a hanky, and get the bartender’s attention. You may be in for a very long night.