When your friend calls you, sobbing and telling you that she just caught her boyfriend cheating, you’re going to have to think carefully about how you respond. Your first response might be to call the guy a louse or a few more explicit words, but this won’t be what your friend needs. Instead, she’ll need someone who can listen, empathize and guide her into healthy ways of venting her feelings. Be the friend who helps her to think things through and not to dwell on the reasons why her boyfriend might have cheated on her.
Offer to meet your girlfriend in her home. As angry and hurt as she might be, she should not be behind the wheel, driving to your home. Take your pajamas and toiletries because you’ll probably want to spend a few nights at her place, especially if her boyfriend tries to call and beg her to go back to him if she split with him over his betrayal.
Listen to her and allow her to vent. Let her get angry. Stuffing her feelings and denying them to you won’t allow her to begin to grieve the loss of the trust in her relationship. If this means throwing things against the walls, so be it. Once she’s gotten the worst of her anger out of her system, she might be able to face him when he calls or tries to come to her house. She might be able to talk to him calmly and stick to any decisions she’s made about their relationship.
Avoid calling her boyfriend names. Chances are, despite his cheating behavior, she still loves him, and any name-calling will only serve to push her back into his orbit. Instead, talk over a pint of ice cream -- not a bottle of wine -- and discuss his good and bad points. Try to steer your friend toward rationality as she works through the initial shock of her breakup.
Talk to your friend about what she wants to do. She invested time, emotions and her heart into her relationship. She’s the one who should ultimately decide if the relationship is worth rebuilding. You may believe that her boyfriend is a true creep, but give her time to come to her own conclusions about his character. Remember, she already feels as though he made her a fool.
Tell your friend, in words and deeds, that you will be there for her as she works through her grief, confusion and anger over being cheated on. The shock and grief won’t end in the space of a few days. Instead, these feelings will go on for a while. Your friend will experience ebbs and flows as she remembers the good and bad times. She’ll need you to act as her emotional sounding board as she moves past the discovery of her boyfriend’s cheating, no matter whether she decides to stay with him or not.
- Be ready to listen to her, especially if she begins to go over old ground. Your friend is confused because everything she believed now appears to be false.
- If, however, she begins to overthink her situation with her boyfriend, she’ll only get more confused and angry. Draw her away from this and help her to assess her relationship with him productively.
- Don’t highlight her boyfriend's failings. She’ll feel as though everyone else saw his true character when she didn’t. Just bite your tongue against those words, as hard as it might be.
- Don’t urge her to break up with him. This should be her decision to make when she feels emotionally ready.
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.