Relationship breakdown

A relationship breakdown can mean a rough patch or it could be the end of a relationship. Some couples recover and go on, some do not. Fighting with the person supposed to be your closest ally can be incredibly stressful - routine, responsibilities, home, family and identity can be disrupted. Having a supporter to share the experience with can make a difference.

What it feels like

It is easiest to imagine what this feels like by thinking about a big break up you have been through. Your friend is fighting with the person they are closest to - it may feel difficult to concentrate on anything else other than the conflict, nothing else may seem as important. Stress, sadness and worry are common, and the fear that the relationship won’t recover can be overwhelming. They may be grieving the relationship that they once had. 

What you can do to support in the first 24-48 hours: 
  • Get in touch

  • Ask them if they want to talk about how they’re feeling, listen and provide emotional support

  • Check in on their situation regarding: Access to food, water, shelter and emergency savings (relevant if they have had to move out of their previous home)

Providing Support 

There are emotional and practical supports you can offer to get them back on track.

Emotional Support
  • Let them know you care about them and want to help

  • Let them talk through and process the loss, and their emotions

  • Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future

  • Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Early on your friend may struggle with daily living tasks – cooking meals, housework, taking care of kids, walking the dog. It may help to offer to do these for them.

  • Help provide updates to friends on what's happened/how they’re coping if they feel overwhelmed by messages or the idea of breaking the news themselves

  • Help distract them with movies or activities that can take their mind off things

1 Week on what now?

There is no set time frame when it comes to getting through a breakup. Your friend may be emotionally devastated, they may feel totally fine, or they may feel anywhere in between. Any of these are normal, and you must not judge how your friend is feeling.

Providing support in the long term
  • Keep in regular contact

  • Ask them if they want to talk about how they’re feeling, be there, listen and provide emotional support as needed

Emotional Support
  • Let them know you care about them and want to help

  • Let them talk through and process the loss, and their emotions

  • Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future

  • Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Early on your friend may struggle with daily living tasks – cooking meals, housework, taking care of kids, walking the dog. It may help to offer to do these for them.

  • Help distract them with movies or activities that can take their mind off things

  • Encourage them to try new hobbies and interests to help with healing

  • Help them with appointments for professional help (counselling, legal advice, etc). You may be able to help them with finding and booking help, transport to get there, or accompany them to the appointment, or all three.

Who can help?
Service that can help

Anglicare WA

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Legal Aid

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Relationships Australia

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Service Directories

Ask Izzy

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WA Connect

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Professional Helpers

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Psychologist

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