Consoling your heartbroken friend? Here are some dos and don’ts

  • Abhinav Verma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 28, 2016 11:37 IST
If you wish to be a ‘friend in need’ to your pal going through a rough patch, then you must learn tact. A slip of tongue will pile on more misery for your friend. (Photo: istock)

If there’s ever a situation when you are totally lost for words, then it’s probably when you get that phone call from your friend informing you that he or she has broken up. The first thought that pops in your mind is: “OMG, what am I going to say or what should I say?” You start to panic and you certainly don’t want to say something that you will make your friend even more miserable.

Consoling and helping a friend through an ordeal is an art which requires tact and sensitivity. Therefore, with the help of experts we guide you on how you can be a “friend in need is a friend indeed” by helping your friend through his or her heartbreak. Check out what not to say, no matter what!


1) ‘I told you so’

Telling your friend, “I told you to not get into this relationship” is like rubbing salt into a fresh wound. By saying this you’re indirectly telling your friend that they are incapable of making their choices. “After a break-up, you should boost your friend’s confidence by empathising with them by just listening to them rather than counselling them and shooting their confidence down,” says relationship expert Dr Nisha Khanna.

2) ‘But he/she was the one for you’

Saying this is equivalent to, “Hey man, sorry you got fired, but your workplace was awesome”. Don’t bash your friends ex or praise them. “Help your friend move on from the relationship by diverting his or her attention from it by taking them out for a movie or so,” says relationship expert Dr Amrapali Patil.

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3) ‘You’ll get a new one’

Telling them they will quickly get a new boyfriend or girlfriend is like telling a friend who lost their pet dog that they can get over it by getting a new one. “Avoid pushing your newly single friend towards a new relationship. Let them take their own time to get over their previous relationship; let them make their own decisions,” says Khanna.

4) ‘You were better off single’

You say this to your newly single friend, but are you going to change your colour like a chameleon when your single friend starts dating again? “A trustworthy friend offers honest advice and opinion with tact and sensitivity. After a breakup, people are vulnerable, so for the sake of consoling don’t say things just to make them feel good, rather give a hug if you have nothing to say” says Patil.

5) ‘You guys will back together soon’

Are you a Prophet who has seen the future? Don’t offer your friend false hope by telling them their break-up is temporary. “You don’t want your friend to be stuck in a limbo, so help your friend realise the situation without being mean,” says Patil. Even if your friend does want to get back together, have a brutally honest conversation regarding it.

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6) ‘I know what you ‘re going through’

Unless you’re a psychic or you’ve swapped bodies with your friend, there is no way you can assume that you know what your friend is going through after their heartbreak. Don’t compare your experiences. Your friend’s feelings need to be the centre of attention, not you. “Talking about your own experiences would make you come across as self absorbed,” says Khanna.


According to experts, here is a list of what not to say and what to say instead:

Avoid: “About time you got over this”

Use: “It may take some time for you to get over this, but slowly you will be fine”

Avoid: “I know exactly what you are going through right now”

Use: “I can only try to imagine what you are going through”

Avoid: “Don’t worry, you will get a new boyfriend/girlfriend soon”

Use: “Am sure you will miss him/ her, but you will get through this”

Avoid: “You should be glad it’s over, it could have been worse”

Use: “Listen, I’m really sorry this happened to you, but I’m there for you”

Avoid: “There is no point being so angry or upset, life goes on”

Use: “It’s alright to let your emotions out”

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