Your girlfriend is upset and you're not there to hug her close and stroke her hair. Maybe she's had a bad day at work, is fighting with her best friend or her pet has died. Even though you can't be there in person, you can comfort her over the phone by letting her vent and reassuring her that her feelings are valid.
Be There For Her
Tell your girlfriend that you are there for her and stay on the phone for as long as she needs or wants. Encourage her to share her thoughts and feelings. If she's crying, it may be difficult for her to talk or for you to understand her through her sobs. It's also possible that a lot of raw emotion will be involved and she may not feel like opening up about the details of the situation. If that is the case, be patient and don't pressure her to talk.
Show Her Empathy
It's vital to be understanding when your girlfriend is upset. Show her that you care about her feelings and carefully consider all she has to say, explains Robert Leahy, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical School and author of the HuffingtonPost.com article "What Not to Say When Your Loved One is Upset." Do not minimize your girlfriend's concerns. For example, do not tell her to calm down and that she is overreacting. Listen without judgment and validate her feelings by saying something like, "I can see why you would feel that way."
Listen to Her
Use short, affirmative responses to help keep the conversation flowing and to indicate that you are listening, says John M. Grohol, Psy.D., a psychologist and author of the PsychCentral.com article "Become a Better Listener: Active Listening." For instance, throughout the conversation, say "I see" or "Yes." Listen without interrupting. Have your conversation in a quiet place so you can easily hear your girlfriend without noise and distraction.
Don't Try to Fix It
It's normal for you to want to make your girlfriend's problems go away. However, fight the urge to give unsolicited advice or to tell her what to do. Don't tell her about a similar situation you had and what you did during that time. Providing comfort should be about your girlfriend; don't make it about you, says Janeen Herskovitz, therapist and author of the GoodTherapy.org article "The Art of Comforting: Three Examples of What Not to Do."
Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.