There are a lot of situations where we feel compelled to support our friends. It can sometimes be hard to know exactly what to say and do in some situations. Our student collaborators have shared their thoughts on a couple of situations.
My friend just got broken up with. How can I support my friend right now?
Sophia: Going through a breakup is never fun, but knowing that you have others around to support you can help a bit. While your friend is going through this tough time, make sure she knows that you are there for her no matter what. Take time to actively listen to their problems, and let her know your door is always open. Encourage her to great herself kindly, and simply ask what you can do to help. It may be helpful to provide your friend with a distraction, be it a lunch date, bowling, hiking, whatever she enjoys doing during her free time will help instill normalcy, and let her know that she can still have fun doing the things she loves. Most of all, remember that this takes time, and that it may be a while before she recovers. Just remind her that you are there for her, and she’s allowed to take the time she needs to heal.
Kate: What everyone needs after a breakup will vary depending on the personality of the friend, how long the relationship lasted, if the break up was “bad,” and a variety of other factors. But one of the best things you can do for anyone going through a break up is to be present and there for them. When people are broken up with, the often feel disvalued, like there’s something wrong with them. Reminding them and showing them that you value them, care for them, and appreciate them can make them feel much better. You can do this through little things – schedule a movie night or self-care day, text them to check in, send them a care package – anything to remind them that they’re still loved.
I saw my friend’s partner with someone else, and I think they’re cheating. Should I tell my friend? And how do I tell my friend?
Kate: If you feel like your friend is being cheated on, it might be good to do some research before jumping to conclusions. If the person you saw your friend’s partner with is friendly, it might be good to ask them what they were doing with your friend’s partner. There may be another reason they were together, like a school project or some sort of activity. If you feel like there’s something more going on, you should tell your friend, but be gentle about it. Tell them you’re concerned, remind them that you’re there for them, and try not to make a ton of drama out of it. Just sit them down, tell them what you saw, and ask them if they felt like anything strange was going on. But remember, your biggest goal should be able to support your friend – not to take down or expose their partner.
Sophia: Unless you are positive that their partner is cheating, I would hold off on telling them. If you are wrong it could not only affect their relationship with their partner, but also yours. But in the case that you have proof or know for a fact that their partner is cheating, you should find a way to let them know. It may be the harder right over the easier wrong, but it is much better in the long run. Imagine if you didn’t tell them and they found out anyway. That would be a much harder situation to handle. In terms of how to tell them, make sure you have solid evidence of the cheating. It may be hard for them to believe at first, and even though you want them to trust you, it may be easier if you can show them proof. You should be simple and straightforward, but also gentle and sympathetic. Once you relay the news, give them time to sort out their emotions. They will be understandable shocked and sadder by the news, so comfort them as best you can, and don’t push them into doing anything right away. They may be angry at you for a while, but this is likely to pass as they work through their emotions. Once you have told them what they need to know, allow them to make the next decisions, no matter what they may be, and feel confident in knowing that you will support them no matter what.