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What Can I Say to Help My Friend Who Struggles Sexually?

April 6, 2010


Yesterday we started looking at how we can help those who struggle sexually.  The biggest takeaway from yesterday is that:  

Our presence means everything.  Pursue your friend instead of  pulling away.

Today and tomorrow we’ll look at how our words can help or hurt. 


Don’t look for the perfect words to say.  There are no magic words that will fix your friend’s life.  There are no perfect words to say.  Even counselors and pastors still struggle with what to say in difficult circumstances like these. 

Even though there are not perfect words, your attention to your friend is what matters.  Here are some things you can say that have been helpful to many of the sexual strugglers I’ve worked with:

1.   “I’m sorry” – This is sympathy.  You feel for your friend.  You hurt for him.  You hate that he’s going through this difficult chapter. 

2.  “I know this hurts” – More sympathy.  You recognize that your friend is hurting.  You recognize that he is experiencing a loss.  You are acknowledge his suffering. 

3.  “I’ve had similar struggles”[Don’t say this unless you have struggled sexually.]  This is empathy.  You show that you understand his pain in a personal way.  You identifying with your friend’s pain out of your own personal experiences. 

 4.  “I’ve struggled in other areas too” – Maybe you haven’t struggled sexually, but you can empathize out of other struggles you’ve had.  If you can pull from your own hurt and stand in his shoes, this will go a long way to help your friend. 

5.  “How can I be a friend to you right now?” – This is a variation of “What do you need?”  People in crisis don’t know what they need, yet.   This question gives him a chance to embrace your friendship and keep the door open. 

6.  “What are you feeling right now?” – This is a great question that may open a flood of emotions.  Your friend may be feeling regret, anger, disgust, sadness, hopelessness or shock.  This question give him permission to feel in front of you, to vent, and to communicate. 

What can you DO that will help your friend who struggles sexually? – MONDAY

What can SAY that will help your friend who struggles sexually? – TODAY

What should I NOT SAY to my friend who struggles sexually?  – WEDNESDAY

We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.  Leave a comment or email us at

One Comment
  1. April 6, 2010 9:47 am

    One other thing you can say (and do) is: “Call me, when ever you need to”. This lets them know that you will be there for them. If they don’t call you, call them. And ask “how are things going?”. Then listen, don’t offer advise, or personal commentary. Just listen. This is powerful. We as men are always looking to fix things. But we have a really hard time just listening. When you do this for another man, it has great power. It also lets them know that you were serious about walking with them through this.

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