7

I have a friend who's going through a very rough time, including a breakup. I don't speak to her very frequently, and we live nine hours apart - but she posts regular updates on her life on social media. I leave comments when she does, but I want to reach out to her beyond that and express sympathy and support - but don't really have an entire conversation planned out, just some form of, "hey, I'm here, and I support and care for you."

If I say anything like that, I'm worried that I'll come off as creepy, or as someone who's trying to manipulate the situation to gain a romantic or sexual foothold...and that my attempt to help lift her spirits will in fact sink them further. How could I best express this support?

Background information:

We met at a LARP that was halfway between where we both live. We were never super super close, but talked a lot more in the months following than we have since. I routinely comment on her status updated about her life, and we've talked over DM about some pretty intimate things here and there, but in very few, very brief spurts. She has a history of attracting predators, so I'm extra worried about coming off as one.

5

When someone is in a vulnerable position and you're worried that they may misconstrue your intentions, I find that the best way to reach out is to focus on them and convey your concern for them without any expressions that show an expectation for them to reach out to you. They may be getting many such offers and they shouldn't feel like they're being pressured to respond to them... and you shouldn't expect a response, either.

I recently sent such a message to someone (though our relationship was not the same) and I found that I was really happy with the following format, which I came to after reading a few sites about writing sympathy notes (like this one for divorce/separation).

So, in your case, you could formulate your contact something like:

Hi {friend},
I saw your post on {social media} about {describe rough times}. I hope you've been able to find solace in your friends and family and that you're doing OK. You're a wonderful person and I hope you'll be back to LARPing soon.
Best Wishes,
TheTinyMan

This relates to the article above in a few points:

  • Item 1 - Do say: “I’m sorry to hear about your divorce,” or some other simple, sincere expression of sympathy.
  • Item 3 - Do say: “I hope you are both doing okay.” (I've focused on her since there are more concerns rather than the breakup)
  • Item 4 - Do say: “You are a great person with a lot to offer.”

The other "do this" items on the list you can add if you feel comfortable with them but several of them may be interpreted in a way that might trigger some concerns for her.

Specifically saying where you got the information will make her aware of how you've found out about her situation, and should hopefully belay any negative responses, particularly as you've also commented on them there.

I like to include something to look forward to that you think she'll react positively to - in this case, the LARPing... you may have better ideas about what that could be instead.


I don't normally link to LDS content but this seemed to have decent advice (though I'm not a fan of point #7 because I don't think that's ever appropriate).

7

You could start with a lighter, more general, inquiry. Like:

Hey, how are you holding up?

Or even a more specific inquiry like:

Saw your post about the breakup, you ok?

If they respond well, it leaves an opening for something a little more meaningfully supportive.

You: Hey, how are you holding up?
Them: It's been a little rough, but I'll be ok.
You: Well, if you need to talk, I'm always here.

Just a rough example, but sometimes a soft opening works a little better than jumping straight into a more intimate "let's talk about our feelings" sort of thing.

  • 2
    I think this is solid advice. I would add that I think it's a really good idea to take it slow and not try to have one really impactful conversation. Confidence is built over time and can't really be forced. – dbeer Feb 8 '18 at 22:21
  • 1
    If they seem like they are perceiving the small talk well (opening up), you can also add onto this at the conclusion of your talk and just say "well hey, I'm here for you if you ever need to vent" as a way to extend the invitation for them to come to you in the future, once you've established that level of comfort with her by following the steps above. – Jess K. Feb 9 '18 at 16:52

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