• Resolving Problems
Welcome Box
Ask the Friendship Doctor

5 not-so-simple rules for mending a broken friendship

September 1, 2010 | By | 31 Replies Continue Reading
The dirty little secret no one talks about…mending a broken friendship

Despite the romanticized myth of BFF, the hard truth is that most friendships don’t last forever. In fact, research suggests that when it comes to friendships, there’s a phenomenon somewhat akin to the seven-year itch; half of our friendships change over that time period.

Just like other life-affirming relationships that we treasure—relationships with lovers, husbands, siblings, children, and pets—our closest friendships are imperfect. Friendships are fraught with disappointments and misunderstandings—resulting in some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of our emotional lives.

Remember Anne of Green Gables, the lonely orphan who never had a bosom buddy until she met her neighbor, Diana? Anne instantly realized she had found a soulmate in Diana. But as Anne grew up and her world expanded, the foundation of her once perfect friendship with Diana collapsed, paving the way for the next phase in her life. Given all the transitions that that take place in the lives of women (moving, mating, mothering and managing careers, just to name a few), it’s not surprising that friendships fray. Anne’s story is universal; as people grow and change, their paths diverge. Friends drift apart and even kindred spirits may find themselves circling in different orbits.

The sense of trust, intimacy, energy and connection we feel with a best friend is absolutely exhilarating, but when that friendship begins to erode or drift away, the sense of unease, discomfort, or loss is palpable. So what can you do to mend a broken friendship? Here are some tips for mending a broken friendship and getting over the inevitable bumps:

1) Communicate

There’s a wall of silence between you. She isn’t answering your text messages or voicemails, and is ignoring your Facebook comments.  You haven’t seen each other for a week and you used to talk every day. What do you do? Summon up the courage to start a dialogue. If there’s any hope of mending the friendship, you need to find out what’s wrong and resolve it. Sending an email or snail mail (note or card) to your friend, telling her you miss her and want to talk, gives her a chance to respond without being caught off-guard.

2) Apologize, if you should

If you know it was you who said or did something wrong-or who didn’t do or say something you should have, own up to the mistake.  apologize sooner rather than later because time has a way of making little problems fester. Of course, if you have a recurrent case of foot-in-the-mouth syndrome, this isn’t going to work.

3) Forgive, if you can

Conversely, if you were the one who was wronged and the friendship is important to you, consciously decide to forgive your friend in  order to save the friendship. Try to think about what happened from her perspective and accept her apology. If her behavior is consistently ambivalent and unpredictable, forgiveness may not be the right fix.

4) Take a break

You’ve approached your friend to sort out the problem and you’ve been ignored or rebuffed. Perhaps your friend needs more time to get over her anger and disappointment. Propose that you NOT see each other for two weeks or a month. Maybe you need time apart (what I call a friendship sabbatical) to realize how much you mean to each other. On the other hand, you both may breathe a sigh of  relief during the trial separation.

5) Downgrade

Maybe your expectations of each other are a mismatch at this time. Perhaps, you need to establish boundaries: Tell her you need more space for yourself and more time with others. Maybe your relationship is based primarily on shared history and your lives have grown too disparate to remain besties. Gradually downgrade to a casual, once-in-a-while friendship. Make the change with grace and respect, leaving the door open for reconnecting in a different way at a different time.

Admittedly, fixing a broken friendship is never easy or simple because the rules of friendships aren’t clear. Compounding the problem,      women are often embarrassed or ashamed to talk about friendship problems. If they speak to men, they’re likely to be accused of catfighting. If they speak to other women, opening up about another friend may be seen as a betrayal. As a result, friendship problems often remain the dirty little secret that nobody talks about—except on The Friendship Blog.com.


 

This post, by me, is the third in a weeklong series of posts by the bloggers involved in The Friendship Circle as part of The Month of Friendship. The blogs include: Girlfriendology, GirlfriendCelebrations, GirlfriendCircles, MWFSeekingBFF, and TheFriendshipBlog.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (31)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. What’s the Value of a Good Girlfriend? | Woman, Live! | November 16, 2013
  1. rohit says:

    Hi irene, i had this group of friends with whom i was very close last year and we always held our each others backs. A few months ago one of the guy in the group ( he was not a permanent member, just a transient one) picked up a fight on me for no reason and since then has been hating me. His vicious poisoning seems to have spread everywhere and all of the other friends had since then started behaving indifferently towards me. He has since then become a permanent member of the group and the other members started developing aversion towards me. A while later i picked up a fight with another guy in the group but we later made up and we were fine. But since then everyone have been treating me as if they don’t know me and don’t invite me to parties and outings. They have been indirectly accusing me of being selfish and bitchy and claim i am nothing more than a problem in their life. Recently everyone in the group have been getting jobs and none of them have invited me to their parties. Although many i times i have felt it is time i forget these guys and move on with the other friends i have who have been really supportive of me in tough times. But i know deep down we still share the bond of friendship we once had as we had some really great moments i can never forget and the bond that we once had was unbreakable. I have tried to engage them in a meaningful conversation but it hasn’t been much of a success. I am torn over whether i should continue with my efforts to revive the friendship or give up as i will run into them every now and then for 1 year till we graduate next year. I tried speaking to the toxic guy( he was also a companion once) but his reasoning is filled too much with ego and emotions that it is futile to waste my time over him. In the group there are 2 people who were once my great friends and it pains my more about these 2 people than the others giving me indifference. Plesse suggest me a solution.

  2. secret says:

    question? if u and ur bff had a second misunderstanding the 1st one we ddnt talked for almost 4mos for some huge issue but suddenly i done something to fix things wth us and it turns out well… until today again we had a misunderstanding … came to a point that she said she dont want me to be her friend anymore… should i do something again like before? or better to let her go? for her having me its a huge responsability :( im so upset!

    • I can understant what u are feeling for your BFF, because i am also going from this phase…i will advice u to let her go, i know its very difficult& painful…But if she is really bff than she will be back very soon, just have some patience & give her some time & some space ok..

  3. yaying zhao says:

    i have been friends with this guy for so long and we studiedly just stopped talking at the end of 5th grade and now and then on face book we would still say a few words to each other and would see each other when we go to our old elementary school. ive known him since i was 5 years old. he is the kind that is a class clown and really nice when u get to know him but sorta mean to others. during fifth grade we were the best of friends btw im a girl and he’s a guy. but then during the last month of school we started to stop talking in real life and in text because he found out about my crush on him added to the lack of physical contact. i really wish to repair this friendship. im meeting him tomorrow with my old friends so i hope i can gather up enough courage bye that time can you please give me some advice we are both in middle school right now

  4. Ram nirmal says:

    I had a best friend…. She is very sweet,childish, and insane for which i liked her….i wanted to be with her….all over her life as a best friend…but she had a boyfriend….he insisted me not to talk to her….bt i tried to speak to her….with the help of my another frnd who’s a girl…i thought that can resolve the problem…bt she being a **** played a double game with me and made our broken relationship even worser….now what should i do… Ican do anything for her…?????i care for her..a love for my friend….i want to talk with her, bt she’s avoiding me…what to do???? Plzz help me????

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am struggling with making a decison.i dated this guy once he broke up with me and it kiled me . I cant explain why he meant so much to me he just did and i could not get over him i struggled for 8 months trying to get over him,one day i told him all of the previous statements and i wanted to just get over him i didnt know why i couldnt.During those 8 months that i was struggling my best friend of three years was right by my side supporting me. Then one day i get a message saying i am talking to ***** and it has nothing to do with you & ######### ( i had started talking to someone she liked at one point the one i called #########,however she just liked him and i had truely loved the boy i suffered over) i was hurt not because of the boy, i was over him. I was just hurt that she would date someone that i suffered over and loved for so long but she was trying to make me feel bad for talking to someone she had liked while she was talking to my first love! she never said she was sorry but instead of getting mad when she told me she was talking to him i decided i would make the best of it because i love my best friend and i didnt want to lose our friendship. We double dated had fun for four mounths but she kept on doing mean things.She tried to call me out on something stupid to impress him mother. and basically she kept doing other disloyal things i had let all the things build up inside me and it hurt me so bad, i finally took up for my self and said i was done. we tried to talk twice but ended in conflict. Then one day we had a casual conversation as if we had never had any problems. I let my anger and hatred get the best of me later and started talking about her and how she had hurt me. I miss her so much its crazy i have had multiple dreams where she was still my best friend :””( we were so close and we lost it all we were eachothers BEST FRIEND we did everything togeher i miss her so much but i dont know what to do i feel like if i talk to her she would just use it against me like iv seen her do to others. I notice at times that now a days she is jealous of me and i feel like she would only feel jealous if she was hurt by me. I wonder if she would minipulate me if i tried to be friends with her,can she ever realize where she went wrong? I told her in one of out arguments once i felt like she had stopped caring about our friendship she said that wasnt it, she didnt see why i cared about my ex because him being her bf told her that his relationship wasnt that serious i told her. It may not have been serious to him but i didnt just make up my feelings for him and that i couldnt have just made up my feelings i didnt choose to hurt over him. Point blank i can let all of the past arguments go if she can but she hasnt said shes sorry… I just wonder if she misses our friendship the way i do, i want my best friend back and its killing me. I think about it every day. i think about her every day. i just dont know what to do,should i talk to her? or should i play it safe so i do not get hurt? my heart is hurting over this so bad. 3 years of memories is not something i can just let go of easily. When i was suffering over my ex i wrote him notes i told him how i felt i basically begged for him to give me something a reason for our breakup or some sort of relief from my heartache,He never wrote me back he never told me how he felt he would simply occasionally flirt with me but leave me hanging. He taught me not to open up to much im so afraid that if i talk to my best friend she will do me the same way she might just make fun of me with him, like i know they already do. i just need some help making a decision i miss her and i just need to know if talking to her is worth one more shot.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So I have an x-friend, she and I met at work, she was the temp, and I have a full time position there. Once her temp position was up, we still stayed in touch, over the phone, via facebook ect. Then in December of last year a position opened up, and I pushed for her to get the position. Success, she got the position and things couldnt be better…then two more positions opened up, and we got two more new people. everything seemed to be going great, but I was noticing that we were not talking too much outside of work. By July, she had unfriended me on Facebook, which I couldnt understand. Then we had a work event, and she wouldnt even talk to me. I couldnt understand what happened that she and I had drifted apart so quickly. Then in September she said something that hurt me so bad, that it still hutrs, especially since there was no real apology: she stated that she blamed me for having to do a training class on some new software at work, and stated that if she had doodled that she would have drawn a picture of me decapitated…I tried talking to her, but that just blew up in my face, she stated that I gave her silent treatments, and that I always tried to one-up her…I never gave her a silent treatment, and her one-uping (if I did do it) was not intentional, but the death comment was so uncalled for.

    Here is my dillema, we work together and in some ways I still want her to be my friend, I just cant seem to get past that comment. I have dealt with other friends going another way due to disagreements and fights, but none of them have ever wanted me dead. When I confronted her about the comment, she simply said it was a joke that went a little too far, like it was no big deal. Am I over-reacting, or am I trying to make her like me because I dont want her to think of me as dead? I dont know if it is worth mending the friendship, I just don’t know what to do?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so me and my ex best friend met thru my brother. She was completely different from me. She assumed things about me and I assumed things about her. But then we went to Job Corps together and got really close. Then got into a fight. We stopped talking for six months. During those six months I told her business to a mutual friend. I was angry and hurt and at the time I didn’t think we would ever talk again. So we start talking again. Everything was fine until the fall when the mutual friend told her everything I told her. And I felt so bad. She accepted my apology. I was never going to do it again. So we get into another argument and the guy she was speaking to writes TO ME on Facebook. He’s asking me questions about certain things and tells me that he knows what was going on. Since me and her weren’t friends all I said was “Find someone who appreciates everything you have to offer.” and I swear on my grandfather that was it. I also gave him my number in case he wanted to talk. Not because I wanted him. None of that. We soon stopped talking. Until this day she doesn’t believe me. When I really didn’t tell him anything. I wasn’t going to. But she doesn’t believe me. Then in June of 2012. Something happened. And it was major. She cried to me and told me everything. I cried with her. But it was a lot of stress for me. And we are each others best friends so I didn’t know how to handle it. So I told my brothers girlfriend cuz she was going thru the same exact thing. I just needed someone who wasn’t going to cry, someone who knows without judgement. I was so stressed out for my best friend. I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I wasn’t trying to tell her business I really honestly changed from the first incident. So one day she texts me and says on ur birthday New Yrs I’m not going to NYC. And I’m like huh? So I wrote her a MSG and she stopped talking to me. Told me she couldn’t trust me. I violated the trust three times. When I really didn’t mean to the last time and the I didn’t tell that guy a thing!!!!!!! :( I love her so much. She’s truly like my sister. She’s convinced she doesn’t know anything about me. But she knows everything. I just want her back in my life. She is my best friend. How do I fix this? Someone help me?!

  8. Anonymous says:

    The advice you give works. i lost my best friend due to stupidity and childishness. we didn’t speak to each other for a year, avoided each other during our whole matric year and it was hell. on the last day of matric i wrote her a letter apologizing and almost a month later she replied after my birthday. since we both finished school and entered the grown up life we’ve started talking again, but its still difficult cause she was my bets friend and i just want everything back to how it was, but thats a bit far fetched. she was like my sister and it’s so nice to have the courage to talk with her again and greet each other after all this time. Time heals all wounds and i believe that ONE DAY we will have the friendship we shared during high school.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We are male… bt one day we jst did sex and after that every thing was gud…bt later on i used to sex with him and he tries to stop… But i love him like best friend…. he now hates me and i am unable to concentrate on studies… I care about him a lot… what to do now…plz suggest i dont want to lose my friend…

  10. Anonymous says:

    ive knowwn this girl since nurssery and we have been friend for 7 years. she started hanging around with the popular group in my school and we are no longer best friends anymore. dont know how that happened but affter trying to mend up with her it didnt work. me and her and three other girls were really close best friends. she is now with the populars. another migrrated to canada and the other twwo dont share homeeroom with me any more so they seemed to have moved on…its been three years since ive been seperated from all of them.andd on the first year i had absolutaly no friends,i was one of those shy-sit-in-a-corner girls.and no one toook notice of me.i wass soo quiet that year (grade 7) that i felt as if i just turned into some other personee..coz im usually very loud and out going.and then the next year in grade eight second semester i started talking to this girl in class. she and me have this obssesion for this anime called Naruto soo we usually find ourselves talking about it.the more we spoke the more timee we spent together and the more we hung out.she was one of the talkative girls in class and she slowly got me back to my loud talkative hyper random self.along the way i made three more new friends whom i love uncondittionally. they are like sisters to me. but now in ninth grade she has started to distance her self away from us and she speaks less to us she doesnt say ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ or anything when we say so to her. she stll hangs around us. but what she said today rreally came crashing down on me. she said we werent friends anymore. i was just soo mixed up with sadness and anger at the same time i mean..i deserve the rright to know why she said we arent friends. i asked her and she said ‘just coz i row with you doent mean that im friends with with you’ she didnt say that to only me but she meant the others too…memories of my childhood friendship of my 1st bff just came crashing down on to me. i dont know why shes acting this way..what should i do?

  11. Anonymous says:

    so my best friend was in love with me & I didn’t know about it. so I went to this huge party & hooked up with this girl. & my best friend’s friend from school was there & told my best friend everything tht happened… how can this be fixed?
    (please help. I’ve known her for 13 years & I can’t lose her)

  12. Anonymous says:

    [Comment deleted at request of poster]

  13. Anonymous says:

    when i was new my friends fighting with me in st joseph’ s training centre but is hard for me beacuse my best friend passed away died in hospital it’s hard fro me to make freinds with jenny Keavnneey and Lorrnae Hession jenny cox there awalys fighting with me and I am really upset about that pine and when I was new in sos i got emtinally beause I was falling in love with matthew Patrick brennan and I can’t stop lovering him and i have a curah on him i really in love and fancy him

  14. Anonymous says:

    I have been friends with this white guy.but all of a sudden he went mute. I tried to ask why he went quite and all he said was “im busy with work”.i then decided to ask him if he was not comfortable being friends with a black poor girl like me. I know I never meant to writde that.and now I feel nothing at this stage can be fixed. Please help.

  15. Anonymous says:

    My friend and I are constantly fighting for no reason. She gets jelly when I talk with my mother besties and says “Ooo having fun with ur new best friend!?” And ignores me for the rest of the day. I dont know what to do anymore i have 1 friend, (other bestie) but shes slowly giving into my other friend =((((((((((((((((((((((

    Gosh I feel like crying now ):

  16. Anonymous says:

    M facing a similar situation.

    we r best friends since 3yrs now. in feb suddenly she stopped talkin.we just had a small fight as in regular nothing serious. wen i asked she said she doesnt want to talk anything fr now.she doesnt respond to me. i said ok take ur time. but its been 2 months now she still doesnt want to talk.and its only with me. I even sent her an amazing greeting on her bday wich i made but she didnt respond to that..shes enjoying college n stuff with other friends frm our grp.N m left out frm the grp and the fun.i kno i havent done any wrong with her. our mutual friends too tried to talk but she didnt tel them anything. I atleast deserve a reason fr her such behaviour. it hasnt happend b4. i dont kno how to handle the situation now.she a very dear friend.

    i dont want to ruin this amazing friendship with her.i share my whole life with her and she too has..she a very close friend.

  17. Anonymous says:

    hi, i just want a good advice. i am a loner person which i remembered that my last bestfriend was wayback my 2nd grade. I am now a sophomore college student, I got very mad at my male friend because he always tell stories about his girl whom she is dating with. I also get irritated because anytime we meet, he always tell that story.
    What I am really up to is that he tell to other people that we are bestfriends. Well, in fact, i dont really feel we are. I just want to ask whether will i stay connected with him or not anymore? Will i stick on to be alone again? I am really preoccupied because i am not good with it. Please sugggest me. I wanted to be friends to him even more but it seems like I am being taken for granted… Please help me…T.T

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hello,
    If i haven’t reached you too late. Can I ask, what is it that you said? With more insight one can properly suggest the best step.

  19. Anonymous says:

    i used to be bffs with a boy and we used to alway joke around each other, prank each other, text to each other, laughing etc. One day, i made a dumb mistake which i wish it could be fixed so i keep sending messages on his facebook but he never replied. Its been 9 days now and he hasnt forgiven me, in fact he was happy and moving on which really kills me that we dont talk anymore. Now I’m depressed, trying to get over a friendship that has me and him departing all because i said something that just hurted him. I said my sorrys. What should I do?

    • yaying zhao says:

      my situation is almost just like that just try to develop friendship slowly again i tied that and it kind of worked but it was on facebook since we barely see each other cause we are now in different schools

  20. Anonymous says:

    But…did you apologize? As in say, “I’m sorry I ignored you, and then ignored that I said something really mean.”? Everything you’ve written here has something to do with YOU. You don’t want her to hate YOU. YOU missed her. What about HER? I’d suggest giving her some space, and then sincerely apologize ONCE without using yourself as the yardstick.

  21. Anonymous says:

    My friend and I got into a fight and I ignored her texts during the entire summer, then when school started again she asked me why I was mad at her and I said I didn’t want to be friends anymore. A few days after, I really regretted it, and so I started talking to her again and pretended that nothing had ever went wrong. At first it was fine and then one day she texted me and asked why I was acting all “buddy-buddy” with her. And I told her that it was because I missed her and didn’t want her to hate me. Then she got really defensive and was like look you are the one who broke of the friendship in the first place so don’t try to nail it on me. And I was like do you still want to be friends? and she was like whatever bye. what do I do???????????

  22. Irene says:

    Writer your friend a snail mail letter now (or whenever you feel up to it) but don’t mail it. Tell her that you were really off-base and apologize.

     

    Pick it up and read it again one week after you’ve written it and see if you need to edit it. Then put it in the maii and send it to her.

     

    The ball will be in her court. Let us know what happenss.

     

    Best,

    Irene

     

     

     

     

  23. Anonymous says:

    Hi i’ve really hurt my female friend she confides in me with a lot in her life and I do with her to but I recently had an argument with her and said some bad things that hit every nerve in her about things in her life that aren’t going well. I feel like Ive let her down. Now she doesn’t want to talk to me and I feel like I’ve lost her forever. She says she needs time to heal but i made it worse by repeatedly apologizing by text message. How much time should i give her before I try to mend us. I have know her for 5yrs and we’ve had fights before but this one was bad. I feel so down about the things I said to her especially as she is on antidepressants. Please help.

  24. Xavier says:

    Great post! The difficulty with forgiving someone is so hard, but there seems to be peace. I really enjoy your insight on this. I’d love to read more on this topic.

    I recently stumbled upon another blog like I stumbled upon yours and I really appreciated their insihgt. I thought you might enjoy it: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/forgiveness/

    I’d love to see more like it. Thanks!

  25. Irene says:

    Thanks for your post! Tell us if you make any progress :-)

    Best,

    Irene

  26. Irene says:

    Can you throw yourself a goodbye tea? dessert party? It would be nice for you to be able to say goodbye to everyone.

    Moving is so stressful so don’t fret too much if you can’t make it work. Remember that you’ll be making new friends at the other end of the move and will find ways to stay in contact with those you left behind!

    Good luck with the move!

    Best,

    Irene

     

  27. M says:

    I’ve realized that moving from high school to college, and from college to the rest of your life, it’s hard to get friends to stay close to you. I’m one of those people that always had the same core group of girls as my best friends since I was 16, but now it’s hard to get any of them to return my calls. I’m moving in a few weeks and it’s heart breaking to not have closure, but your suggestion of just taking a break might be the best thing I’ve heard in a while. Thank you.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Dr. Friendship — I never really thought about mending — I just gave up. Now you’ve arms me with new possibilities for a friendship that has gone AWOL. I am going to try your wise suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Visit GirlfriendSocial.com

css.php