Being a Supportive Friend: The DOs and DON’Ts

Regardless of your own experience, you CAN be a supportive friend to someone dealing with the possible end of a relationship. Whether it’s a break-up, separation, or a full-fledged divorce, they need friends to lean on in this difficult time.

Here are some things to consider as you seek to be supportive:

  1. DO listen by empathizing with what your friend is going through. Express that you truly care by expressing genuine interest while seeking to understand their point of view.
  2. DON’T make things worse. DON’T encourage your friend to get out of their relationship or get a divorce. DO help them move toward reconciliation or the proper help. (Ignore this in cases of abuse.)
  3. DO help your friend find the proper help. Locate a skilled professional such as a marriage and family therapist or a Christian counselor. DO refer them to help websites on relationship issues.
  4. DO give advice or suggestions AFTER you have considered both sides of the story. DON’T jump to conclusions or take sides.
  5. DO be there for your friend and be sensitive to their needs during this difficult time. Help them alleviate stress by taking them for a night out to relax and not focus on their problems.

On the flip side, if you’re the one going through the difficult situation, there are things you should consider as you look to your friends for support.

  1. DO be aware of WHAT you share and WHEN you share. DON’T call for supportive listening during an argument with your partner. This is a time where you will most likely say things you don’t mean and drag your supportive listener unfairly into the middle.
  2. DO be mindful of the amount of support you are getting from your supportive listener. DON’T exhaust your friend daily about your relationship issues. DO continue to nurture your relationship with them by caring about aspects in their lives as well.
  3. DON’T keep things to yourself. It can be very therapeutic to share or “vent” your difficult emotions with a trusted supportive listener.


Porsha Williams, LAMFT