Discover effective ways to support a friend facing relationship challenges. Learn how to listen, empathize, help them see the bigger picture, reassure them they’re not alone, and encourage professional support. Navigate this delicate situation with empathy and understanding.

Relationships can be complex; supporting a friend facing difficulties requires sensitivity and understanding. In this guide on assisting friends through relationship struggles, learn practical ways to provide support, from being a good listener to encouraging professional help.

Understanding Your Role

When a friend confides in you about relationship troubles, it’s essential to remember that your role is not to save them or make decisions for them. Instead, focus on providing a supportive and empathetic space for them to share their feelings and thoughts.

1. Listen Actively

Be a Good Listener:

-Offer an open ear and a shoulder to lean on without giving a speech.

-Voice your concerns briefly and observe your friend’s reaction.

Ask Open-ended Questions:

-Encourage reflection with questions like “What is keeping you in this relationship?” or “What are the red flags for you with this person?”

-Avoid pressuring them; be open-minded, curious, and patient.

2. Empathize and Understand

Share Without Spotlight:

-Share your experiences without making it about yourself.

-Understand that perspectives may differ, and avoid arguments. Focus on providing support without judgment.

3. Help Them See the Bigger Picture

Set Things in Perspective:

-Reflect on the bigger picture by asking questions like “Has it been like this before?” or “What have you both contributed to the current situation?”

-Be supportive and honest, avoiding false hope or unrealistic assurances.

4. Reassure That They’re Not Alone

Respect Their Decisions:

-Ensure your friend knows you’ll support them, regardless of their choices.

-Keep your advice to yourself unless asked, creating a safe space for them to share their thoughts.

Offer Presence and Comfort:

-Sometimes, a tight hug and being present can be more reassuring than words.

5. Encourage Professional Support

Suggest Counseling:

-Recognize that some issues may require professional help.

-Encourage your friend to consider individual or couple’s counselling for a more informed decision.

Share Your Experience:

-If you’ve had positive experiences with counselling, share them to reduce the stigma surrounding seeking professional support.


Supporting a friend through relationship struggles requires a delicate balance of empathy, understanding, and encouragement. By actively listening, empathizing, providing perspective, reassuring them they’re not alone, and encouraging professional support, you create a supportive environment for your friend to navigate their challenges.

If your friend is considering professional support, explore our mental health resources or share your positive experiences to guide them toward seeking help. Remember, being there for your friend can significantly impact their well-being during this challenging time.

If you think you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.