Blog: family

Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

By Leah Sheppard

Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

Our family and friends are the best, right? They are there to support us and have our backs whenever we need it, and when we go through a breakup they are particularly important. Sometimes however, they just don’t say the right thing you need to hear and all it does is make the situation feel much worse.

Often when we eventually tell our family and friends that we’ve broken up with our partner, the reaction is one of heartbreak on your behalf: ‘I’m so sorry to hear that! How could they do this to you?! Here, let me give you a hug’.

But while they think they are doing the right thing, sometimes the comments can head into the protective and defensive territory: ‘I never liked them; I told you they would do this to you didn’t I? Oooohhh I’d love to give them a piece of my mind!’.

When you look at the way a person feels after a breakup it’s a very confusing time, full of very intense emotions. Yes there is sadness, anger, ‘how could they?’ and so on, but you also have the same feelings of protection, loyalty and love on board – even if it’s not reciprocated by your ex. That stuff doesn’t just go away when your ex does, and it makes for a very chaotic environment when all you want is peace.

All you hear around you is how everyone wants to hurt your ex for dumping you, when in your mind everyone is trying to attack the one you love. They may all be going on about how much they never liked that person anyway, and all you’re thinking is ‘everyone was lying to me the whole time, and now I have no one’. You may not even want anyone to hug or touch you at all, because that intimate space was what you only reserved for your partner. They all become smothering.

The thing about true family and friends is that they love you, unconditionally; and while they may not say or do the right thing, they only have your best interests at heart. Behaviors such as the ones described above are only protective measures to make sure you don’t get hurt again, and are truly done as a sign of respect and love for you – even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Now, this isn’t to say that what they are doing is right; probably the contrary, but it is the only way they know best to make you feel better. No one knows the feelings you have going on in your head, only you. So make them known, but always with respect and love. If something is bothering you, figure out exactly what that is and tell them. If what they are saying/doing is not what you want them to, tell them this:

‘I really love that you are trying to help me, and I know this may not make sense to you - but I don’t need you to say/do that.

There are a lot of emotions going on in my head that I need to sort out, and all I need is someone to talk it out with, and be there when I need it.

I’ll get back to normal eventually; I’m just a little fragile right now.

They will understand. The more you open up about what you actually need, the more they will be able to help. You don’t need warriors right now, just someone to talk out your feelings with. 

The case may be that you can’t actually talk about all the details you’d like to with family and friends, and that’s ok too. There are a range of counseling services that you can look up to help out with that. Just know that in the meantime your peeps are trying to help the best they can, so ease up on them. Remember, they can’t read your mind; only the look on your face, so let them know what’s going on in there.

when family and friends don't say the right thing

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