Part of being a friend to someone means sometimes helping them through a hard time. Being rejected romantically can feel like the end of the world and the rejected often turn to their closest friends for comfort and direction. In a perfect world, we would all know exactly the right thing to say to make our friends feel better during times like this, but in reality, sometimes the best we can hope for is just to know what not to say. If you don't know exactly what to say, listening is often the best help you can offer.
What Not To Say
One of the worst mistakes we can make as friends is to try to make someone feel better by overshadowing their experience with our own. Psychologist Sasha Carr recommends relating to your friend's experience, but not overtaking it with your own, as this can make them feel like their feelings are being dismissed. Don't tell them to "just get over it" either, as this too, is dismissive. Your friend has a right to feel upset in this moment of rejection.
What To Say
Reminding your friend that everyone has failed at some point may offer a small comfort. Keep it vague though, as you don't want to compare being shot down by a romantic interest with the Titanic sinking. You can also remind them of the many ways they're succeeding in life and how loved or liked they are. In these cases, be very specific. A little flattery goes a long way to heal a bruised ego.
When a person has suffered a rejection it can feel like that is the only thing happening in their life at the moment. While it's okay for someone to focus on a rejection a little bit, turning completely inward and wallowing is a slippery slope into depression. Get your friend out of the house to do something they enjoy. Take them to a movie or for a hike. Spend an afternoon in your favorite shops trying out new looks or volunteering for a cause you both feel passionately about. Pick activities that won't remind them of the person who rejected them and steer clear of places with an association to that person.
Finally, remind your friend that what they're feeling right now will eventually pass. They will have successes in the future, and while you understand that what they're feeling now is very real and upsetting, it will fade with time. Pamela D. Garcy, a clinical psychologist specializing in relationship issues, recommends challenging them to use positive affirmations instead of negative self talk. Don't let them get so bogged down by their setback that they can't see that good things are still possible. Remind them that rejection is an opportunity to grow and learn and this rejection may have been due to the circumstances, not them personally.
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Based in Las Vegas by way of Anchorage, Alaska, Daniella Cortez is a lifestyle and relationship columnist with particular expertise in music journalism and cultural analysis. Cortez draws on her background as a community health educator and victim advocate to contribute pieces about relationships and sex to a series of advice blogs.