When the people we love are hurting, that can activate our protective instincts. We wish we could shield them from the ugliness of the world. We want to cushion them against pain. This is true whether it relates to a parent, sibling, child, friend, or other loved one. Of the various sources of pain out there, one of the most difficult to go through is a breakup.

Breakups and their effects

Romantic relationships can be rich and joyful experiences, but they can also be nightmares. Some relationships are unhealthy, and their drawing to a close can be considered a blessing. An example of this is when a relationship is abusive, whether that’s emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. It may be healthier for that relationship to end than to carry on.

That being said, relationships are complicated, and even in the worst ones, there is some good in it. Losing that relationship is a source of grief, which can have physical, mental, and emotional effects on a person. While it may be tempting to force your friend who has just gone through a breakup to go out and have fun, remember that they are grieving. Celebrating may not be the appropriate thing in that moment.

A breakup can have a wide-ranging impact on a person. Unfortunately, the thought of living without the relationship may cause some to ponder thoughts of death or suicide. The person may likewise feel worthless or like a failure.

They may be distracted, have poor concentration, and little motivation to get things done or engage in what was previously enjoyable. Guilt, anger, and frustration may ravage the heart and mind of your loved one.

All this emotional impact can manifest physically. Body aches, headaches, and stomach problems can begin. Your person may have changes in appetite, either eating too little or overeating as a soothing mechanism.

Likewise, the swell of emotions can cause changes in sleep routines. Some may relentlessly be denied sleep whereas others sleep the day away. All the heartache and distraction can create general feelings of fatigue.

Even where a breakup is mutual, it’s important to remember that any of these physical or emotional impacts could still exist. It is natural to struggle with difficult feelings even in the best of circumstances because emotional intimacy was built with the other person which is now lost. Depending on your loved one’s situation, they may be feeling a lot of confusing emotions at the same time.

Coming alongside your loved one after a breakup

When a loved one goes through a breakup, your instinct may vary depending on the situation. You may desire for them to simply get over it, especially if it was a relationship you didn’t approve of because it was unhealthy or inappropriate.

On the other hand, you may also have the instinct to urge them to fix the situation and reconcile them with their partner. These are natural responses, and while they have their place, they should be tempered with wisdom.

Some of the ways you can come alongside your loved one during and after a breakup include the following:

Set aside your own agendas

Instead of coming to the situation with your ideas about what ought to happen, try to set aside your agendas, preconceptions, or expectations of what you’d like to happen next.

Recognize that this is a difficult time

Whatever you may think of the relationship, realize that for your loved one, this is an emotionally charged situation. They may be experiencing a barrage of emotions and thoughts about their experience. Yes, one way to think of the situation is that they are grieving.

Come ready to listen

It’s important to be a compassionate, empathetic, and ready-to-listen presence in your loved one’s life. There is a lot of processing they may need to do as they work through their experiences and feelings. This doesn’t mean you can’t have your opinions, or that you can’t share them. It just means being willing to do more listening than talking.

Help them with self-care

One of the consequences of going through a breakup is losing focus on basics such as self-care, such as grooming, exercising, eating well, social interaction, and getting good sleep. Help them in practical ways. Cook them a meal and share it with them. Take a walk with them and listen, gently getting them off social media. These small but healthy choices can be impactful.

Breakups can be stressful, and simple things like getting some sun, spending time with a friend, or getting some exercise, can help immensely with eradicating stress.

Don’t offer cheap wisdom

It may feel good to trash your loved one’s ex, or to reframe the relationship in certain ways. However, it will help to look at the relationship with an honest assessment of what went wrong, and how to grow from the situation. A proverb says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6, NIV). Speak lovingly but truthfully into your loved one’s life.

Help them to seek help

A breakup can have a negative impact on a person’s self-esteem, their sense of self, and their mental and emotional well-being. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is direct your loved one to a mental health professional. A counselor can help unpack thoughts and emotions around a breakup, identify unhealthy ones, and replace them with constructive thoughts.

A counselor can also help with providing tools for coping with stress, handling damaged emotions, and rebuilding healthy self-esteem.

Reaching out for counseling

If you believe your loved one is significantly overwhelmed, encourage them to pursue counseling. Reach out to us at Rowlett Christian Counseling in Texas and we will set up an appointment for your loved one with a trained therapist from our directory.

“Friends”, Courtesy of Mental Health America (MHA), Pexels.com, CC0 License