In many ways, New York city roommates become family. You celebrate good times together – promotions, engagements and personal goals. You also see each other through the bad times – work stress, family drama and the emotional affair that is a break up. We all know what goes in the basic helping-a-roommate-through-a-break up starter pack. There’s ice cream, time on the couch, and movie marathons.
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What comes next though? Do you just listen or must you offer relationship advice? What if you’ve never been in a relationship as serious as the one your roommate was in? What is the right thing to say? What if you really suck at giving relationship advice? Don’t worry, even if your go-to relationship advice is “don’t do it,” it doesn’t make you a bad friend/roommate.
To help you, we’ve put together a few key pointers that you can borrow:
1. Remind them that the end of a relationship is not a failure
Often being in a relationship is seen as a ‘win’ and having one break, especially when you’re older is treated as a failure. Remind your roomi that in the business of love, there is no winning or losing. It’s just about cherishing the good times, accepting the learning and moving on when the relationship has run its course. Both parties in a relationship deserve to find ‘their’ person and letting go is an important step to getting there.
2. Tell it like it is
When we’re not quite sure what to say, we often fall to using cookie cutter responses like “How dare he/she/they do this to you!” or “Look on the bright side, now you can date anyone you want!” The only problem with these responses is that they don’t actually help. Avoid pitying your friend and beware of pulling out the silver lining too early. Find a middle ground where you acknowledge and validate the intense suckiness that is a break up and gently have your pal look toward a brighter future. Something along the lines of “I’m so sorry you’re feeling awful right now, but you will get through it and find something amazing in your future.”
3. Ask what they need rather than assuming what they want
Every relationship is different, every person is different and every break up is also different. What works for you after a break up may not necessarily work for your friend so the best thing to do is ask your roommate what you can do to help. They may not want to do anything immediately but leave the offer open-ended so they can come to you when they’re ready.
4. Keep an eye on them
Some people throw themselves into their work after a break up and others like to wallow. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but in this post break up phase, healthy food often takes a backseat, hygiene and exercise are also frequently skipped. The advantage of being New York City roommates in this situation is that you can keep a close eye on your friend. Without pressuring your roommate into doing too much, make sure they eat some fruit along with their junk food binge or take breaks from work. Thanks to endorphins, exercise helps people feel better. But if your roomi wants to skip the gym, try to take them for a walk instead or sit on the balcony for some connection with the outdoors. In short, make sure they function so it’s easier for them to get through this.
Everyone reacts differently to emotional situations and a break up is as personal as it can get. So, if you feel like there is no nugget of relationship advice that you can offer. Don’t. Just let them know that you’re there in case they need you.
Sometimes we need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything or do anything in particular but just to let us feel we are supported and cared about.Anonymous