distressed friend can take many forms, from giving them a loving embrace to buying a round at your favorite dive bar to sending them a heartfelt message. And since we can’t be at our bestie’s side all the time, knowing a few texts to send someone having a bad day can help you support your loved ones when you can't be together in person. Whether your best friend is struggling with working from home or fighting with their significant other, being there for the people in your life can make even their worst days feel a little bit easier.
According to friendship expert and author of
We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships Kat Vellos, there are four main ways friends can offer support: emotional, tangible, informational, and companionate. “Emotional support looks like giving someone love, affection, caring, empathy, words of affirmation, and other interactions that bring out all the warm and fuzzy feelings,” Vellos tells Bustle. Tangible support is concrete and direct, such as giving your friend a physical object or money via Venmo to buy a coffee. “Think: Ordering a delicious meal to be delivered to them or dropping off a home-cooked meal at their door,” says Vellos.
Giving advice, recommendations, and helpful research on a topic for a friend falls under informational support, which should only be done when it's specifically asked for. And the last category, companionate support, is “about being present with someone in a way that helps them feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, like simply being together when you know they’re having a hard day,” Vellos explains.
Putting in the effort to connect even when you’re not together can remind your bestie that they are not alone. “When you reach out, you can offer your friend a few ideas for support from these different categories,” Vellos says. “Or, if you know them really well, be proactive and just do the thing that you know will matter to them the most.”
From movie suggestions to extra compliments, here are 13 expert-backed texts to send someone having a bad day — because let’s face it, we all have bad days from time to time, but any day can be made better by receiving a sweet message from your best friend.
1 I'm sorry you're dealing with this. Want to FaceTime or call?
Expressing that you’re sorry they’re having a bad day and offering to speak on the phone can be a
great way to support someone from a distance. As Vellos says, this message is “short, sweet, [and] supportive.” Though your friend may want some time to decompress, letting them know that you're there to chat in real-time is always a kind gesture — just be prepared to give them your undivided attention for however long they need you.
Depending on the situation and your friend’s preferences, keep your method of communication in mind, too. “If someone’s in a truly abysmal state, attempting to answer ‘How are you?’ over text message can feel impossible, since the full answer would be a struggle to fit into something SMS-length, and truncating your truth can feel like an act of self-erasure,” Vellos says. In some cases, offering up a call or FaceTime sesh is much better suited.
2 That sounds like the worst day ever. I'm sorry all of this is happening.
When someone you love is going through it, your first instinct may be to shower them with positivity. While you might be coming from the right place, the #goodvibesonly mentality can be invalidating for some people. Acknowledging someone's feelings and validating that their day was difficult holds space for them and lets them feel seen and heard.
You may also be inclined to ask the go-to “How are you feeling?” question, but according to Vellos, that question can sometimes be a tough one to answer. “Cultural norms dictate that a single, short, positive answer is expected, such as ‘fine,’ ‘good,’ or ‘OK,’” she says. “The question ‘How are you?’ also presumes that the other person needs to explain themselves to you when they may not feel ready or capable of doing that.” Instead, affirm their emotions and what they are going through.
3 I want to support you in any way that would feel best for you. Take your pick: I’m happy to do X, Y, Z, or anything else that would feel good for you.
According to Vellos, this is a better spin on the (still kind) response, “Let me know if there's anything I can do.” As she explains, “The downside of this approach is that it puts the work on the person who needs the help: They need to come up with a way to help and then assign that task to you.” That can be emotionally draining. “If they’re already in a really low place, that amount of effort can be overwhelming,” Vellos says. “Many people already feel like asking for help is hard to do.”
Although you may want to immediately try to fix everything and mend your friend’s broken spirit, asking
what you can do to support someone lets them take the next step, and providing some potential options takes the onus off of them. Maybe they want to talk on the phone. Maybe they want to go for a walk. They may just want a night to themselves. Put the ball in their court, and let them know you're around to support them however they need. 4 Thinking of you, know that I'm here! ❤️
“It’s nice to know that someone else is thinking and caring about you, and that you’re available to them without any pressure,” says Vellos. When someone's having a bad day, just letting them know that you're thinking about them can help them feel less alone. Remind them that you care about them and that you're here to help if they want.
“If your friend is feeling really low, though, consider leaving off the shouty exclamation point and just close with a heart emoji,” she adds. You know your friend and their situation best, so make sure to convey the most fitting emotions even over text.
5 Do you want to talk about it?
While some people like to process their feelings verbally, others may not want to chat — or at least not yet. Asking if someone wants to talk more about their bad day allows them to direct the conversation and decide how much they want to share. “Open-ended questions like this — where yes, no, or “maybe but not right now” [are options] — are golden,” says Vellos. “Make sure to convey acceptance regardless of your friend’s answer. There’s no wrong answer to a question like this, and it’s important for someone to be reassured of that.”
6 Do you want my advice or do you want me just to listen? Happy to do either or both!
Sometimes, your friends and loved ones want your sage wisdom in a given situation. Other times, they just want to vent. Rather than bombarding someone with unsolicited advice, try asking them what they want from you as a friend right now. According to Vellos, this message is brilliant. “Too often, we jump to giving advice when someone else just wants to be heard,” she says. “Asking for your friend’s boundaries and wishes is one of the most compassionate ways to show up.”
7 Can't wait to hang out in person again. We can get Thai food and watch a Timothée Chalamet movie. fotostorm/E+/Getty Images
Sharing all the fun, exciting things you have planned for the next time to see each other can be a great way to support someone after a bad day. Just note, as Vellos points out, that “this is only a good fit
if you know that your friend hopes for something similar.” Otherwise, “this kind of message could provoke an ‘Oh no, how am I going to get out of this?’ reaction on the other side.”
If you're looking for something to do immediately, offer to do a DIY spa day or watch a movie together over FaceTime. But remember, try not to add to your friend’s stress by making your offer sound like something obligatory. “Don’t add to your friend’s stress,” Vellos says. “Show that you are keeping their preferences and concerns in mind.”
8 You're a superstar, you inspire me every day, and I'm so happy to know you.
A bad day can be the best time to give someone a little extra loving if you know for a fact that your bestie loves a compliment here and there. As Vellos says, “Some people love getting compliments like this, while they can make other people uncomfortable.”
But if your friend is all for being showered with love, remind them what you love about them and how grateful you are to know them. To make it more heartfelt, opt for specific details as opposed to generalized positive affirmations. “One tricky thing about compliments like this where we share our evaluation of the other person is that it makes us the judge of them (even if that judgment is positive) — and by not including specific details, comments like this can sometimes sound hollow,” says Vellos.
9 I’ve seen you overcome past challenges by being true to yourself and honoring your needs and feelings. I know that you can do the same thing again.
This text is similar to the above option except it
offers support without evaluation, Vellos explains. If you know your bestie responds well to words of encouragement mixed with meaningful compliments, sending this message will go a long way. Sometimes all people need to get through something difficult is the reminder that they’ve done it before and can do it again, with you cheering them on no matter what they decide to do. Simply lending support and “checking on your friends when they’re feeling down,” as Vellos says, is a small but thoughtful step in being a good friend. 10 Have a coffee on me (check your Venmo 👀)!
This is basically the text embodiment of tangible support, wherein you’re giving your friend something physical, such as a gift or service. If you know they love their local cafe, consider sending them a few dollars to cover a latte. Or perhaps buy them their favorite dinner on Postmates, or send a surprise succulent basket for your plant-loving friend. Small things tailored to your friend to show you’re thinking of them will go a long way.
“The most important thing is to let your friend know that they’re not alone, while not adding to the burdens they’re carrying,” Vellos says. “To go the extra mile, think about what would bring a smile to your friend’s face or what you bet they wish someone would do for them — magically without prompting — then do that thing.”
11 I want you to know that I’m thinking of you and sending you love. Please don’t feel any pressure to reply, but just know that I’m here for you.
This hits the right balance of being empathetic, open, and low-pressure, according to Vellos. “Checking in with friends lets them know they haven’t been forgotten,” she says. “It lets them know that they are loved and cared about, and that support truly is there for them.”
Sending a message of support to a friend having a bad day is all about giving them the autonomy to choose how they would like your help — if they want it at all! Just knowing that it’s there for them if they need it is meaningful.
12 I’m around in the evenings this week and through the weekend if you want to talk/vent, hang out and read quietly together, watch reality TV, go for a walk, or anything else your heart desires. Just say the word.
This text also puts the ball in their court without pressure. Offering up specific things you can do for and with your bestie also removes the burden of them having to brainstorm things that might make them feel better. Even if they choose not to take you up on any of those suggestions, it’s the perception of different options and the thoughtfulness of your message that will raise their spirits. “Receiving support when we need it boosts our mental and emotional health,” says Vellos. “It strengthens our resilience, confidence, sense of belonging, and
even our immune system.” 13 You don't have to have all the answers right now. We'll figure it out later!
Expressing that there is no rush to solve everything reminds them that it's OK just to breathe and feel their feelings. “This reminds me of one of the most helpful reminders my therapist ever gave me, which was, ‘You don’t have to do anything about this right now,’” says Vellos. “Reminding someone that there’s no need to feel a sense of urgency is a super supportive way to relieve a sense of pressure they may be carrying.”
Vellos also recommends this as another way of phrasing this sentiment: “If you want a sounding board as you think through your options, I gotchu. Just say the word.”
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to what to say to someone having a bad day is to think about what that specific person would like best. There’s a plethora of ways to offer up your support, so tailoring your response to the personality and emotions of your bestie is the best way to go about sending your love.
Studies referenced: Uchino, B. N., Vaughn, A. A., Carlisle, M. K., & Birmingham, W. (2012). Social Support and immunity. Oxford Handbooks Online. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195394399.013.0012 Expert: Kat Vellos , friendship expert and author of We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships
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This article was originally published on
Oct. 7, 2020