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

September 1, 2010 | By | 87 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.

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Category: RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (87)

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  1. George says:

    I’m very sad that i a friendship has been broken, i wished i had never said those things to my friend the one who i like, in my heart i have regretted what i said, it was the drink that had made me say those things. That person will not forgive, Everyone in life deserves a chance. I feel though i have been punished for to long. It was 2 weeks ago, i would never dream of upsetting anyone it’s not in my nature. Every time i have had a drink something has gone wrong with me. I would like to have that friendship restored of course. I wished there was a miracle. I have been friends for 4 and half years. It came to a sad end because of what i said. I have said sorry so many times but they won’t listen to my apology. They think i’m putting it on. In my heart this true apology. I hope one day they do accept my apology and give me a chance. I want it to be restored. It hurts me that they won’t give me a chance.

  2. JMP says:

    My son and his girlfriend came to live with us. She was pregnant. They needed to save on their living expenses. I said Ok. They do pay rent and I do let them live their own lives. In the beguinning she was very friendly and a person to know. Now, 5 months later she barely says hello to me. I feel this cold vibe from her, the blank look I recieve. If I ask her a question, or try to have a conversation with her, I am met with 2 and word answers. I read it said “No one I mean No one never has the right to treat anyone with such gross disrespect” Acting as if they have the upper hand. Simular to a person holding a gun to another persons head. I am hurt and I have tried every type of angle for this to stop. It isn’t fair! Instead of her acting like a mature adult, she acts A Dolt!

  3. TMS 5th grade student says:

    My friend has the emotional range of a teaspoon. I said shush up to her and she ran away crying. She is also in 5th grade, but is about a year older than me. Some people skip grades. Not her. Any help?

  4. Juntao says:

    My situation was different and I had the hardest time finding help on how to mend a friendship I had with a girl that I had deep feelings for. She is a girl that I work with and she has a no dating co-worker’s philosophy which I found out later. Unfortunately it was the hard way which landed me in that situation which I will talk about. She was a new hire and I was assigned to train her a couple of times in certain jobs. We easily became friends during the first couple of weeks of her working with us. She is incredible, fun, lively, funny, and very down to earth. She is also incredibly strong because she has had a rough past with previous relationships and how she was treated by one of her ex-husbands. He abused her a lot. When I got to know her more and she shared more of her past with me I became compassionate to her. Soon enough I started to care about her well being a lot more than our other co-workers. Soon enough I developed a crush on her and our friendship exploded. We were pretty much around each other at work a lot. It got to the point that we were telling our supervisor to team us together because we get along so well with each other. Then our female colleagues started noticing that I treated her better than anybody she works with. They knew that I had a crush on her so they asked her about what she thought about me. I was told that she enjoyed my friendship and that she loved my personality. Things were going great. I was flirting with her and complimenting her and I even sat beside her in her hospital room when she had an operation. She told our colleagues that I am the sweetest guy ever. It really did seem like things were going great. I started talking to her friends at work about her and everything they told me seemed positive. However one of them told me that I shouldn’t ask her out because she doesn’t date co-workers. I kinda threw what she told me out the door thinking that she might be just saying stuff so that I don’t ask her out because she herself just got over a break up with her boyfriend a few weeks earlier and that she might be sabotaging my chance to ask her friend out. A few months go by and I was still pursuing her totally oblivious to her signs that she doesn’t date co-workers. I thought there was no way that she wouldn’t want to go out with me. All the signs were there. Then it happened. One day on that infamous social media site Facebook while checking out the posts I came across a picture of her and another man. It wasn’t no picture like friends take pictures together. It was how it looks like when couples take pictures together. I felt a sharp pain in my chest and my heart felt like it was just ripped out and crushed after I saw that post. I checked out her page and sure enough her wall was filled with congratulatory comments from her friends. I was an emotional wreck that night and I didn’t know what to do. I made the worst mistake of telling the girl that we work with about what happened. She’s the type of girl that is very upfront with everything and she confronted her about it. She told her that she hurt me. I went from sober to incredibly drunk in a very short period of time that night and I really didn’t care and I was angry and all those rainbows of mixed emotions all came at once. I was out of it for a couple of days. When I finally had clarity in my mind and the effects of the alcohol were long gone I started to focus my negative emotions about what happened into a more positive way. I told myself that staying upset and mad at her for breaking my heart would amount to nothing. So I went out online and started reading up on things on how to deal with this positively. I also started talking to my friends about it even just to be heard was a good feeling. I did an emotional inventory of myself those two days that followed. What I learned that the first thing I needed to do was number 3 on the list which is to Forgive. I forgave her and it was one of the first steps I took into mending our friendship. I wasn’t even upset about her finding someone else anymore. Just that first step of forgiving her even in the absence of her presence is a powerful thing. Then when I had the courage to reach out to her I followed number 2 and apologized to her by text because she wasn’t answering her phone. I apologized on my behalf of what I contributed to endangering our friendship. I wasn’t expecting any apologies from her nor will I ever. The fact that she knows and she acknowledged that I apologized to her. I attempted to communicate with her but her replies seemed shallow and it felt like I was just annoying her at the moment so I decided to take a break from it and just leave her alone for a while. Then I knew that I couldn’t continue being her friend while having these romantic feelings for her and that a romantic friendship was no longer possible. I had to downgrade the way I would need to continue our friendship together as to being just friends. Taking that break by not talking to her for a few weeks helped out. I have been away from work since it happened so I haven’t seen her in a few weeks as well. Eventually we ran into each other in town. It was one of the best meeting each other moment we’ve had. We embraced each other and talked about work and when I was coming back to work and it was just a normal conversation like whatever happened never happened. She was her upbeat smiling happy to see me self. When we hugged good bye she told me don’t be a stranger probably because I cut off communication with her for almost one month. The first few weeks after it happened I was scared that she wouldn’t want to talk to me again. It felt like she was ignoring my texts but I remembered that she is a workaholic and she also has a few kids that she is taking care of on her own and theres been times while we were close to each other that theres been times where she ignored my texts and/or never replied to my texts. I was just overthinking it that’s all. Now we are taking baby steps into communicating with each other again. It may never be the same closeness or it may take a long time to regain the closeness but for now I am just happy and grateful that she didn’t cut me out of her life. Mending a broken friendship does work. This was an extreme example and we’ve got a lot to work on but me giving my 1,000% to fixing it helped out. I am over the fact that she’s with somebody now and I am happy for her. She’s a special person in my life that our friendship is damned worth fighting for. I hope my experience can inspire someone to mend their friendships.

  5. Thomas Jensen says:

    My ex-best friend and i are freshman in high school we were the best of friends until about 6 months ago when we had a misunderstanding on what he wanted me to do. He recently moved about half an hour away now he strictly ignores me. I have become depressed over this. What do I do?

  6. May says:

    My best friend and I had a fight around nine months ago. Someone started antagonizing me about not being my BFF’s real friend, of course, I told that girl off and told by BFF what she said via email. She never responded. She was the one person that understood me and every night I have nightmares about her, getting her back then losing her again, stuff like that. Others where she’s so close but I can’t do anything. There was only one dream where she hugged me and told me that she missed me. All of those were dreams, and they come and go, but they hurt. I wake up missing her, hoping I’ll see her again. We don’t see each other and we don’t talk, I want to fix this, but I’ having trouble knowing what to say. She’s a few years older than me and my friends tell me that maybe she just needs space to make friends her own age, but I know that, but that doesn’t mean she just gets to ignore me and leave me. Tell me how to approach this, I want to fix this, though it may be too late… I need help. I would be very grateful for a response. Thanks! 🙂

    • G says:

      Hey, ive been trough several friendship breakups like this. Ive had the Dreams and I know how they hurt, but theyre à way for your brain to heal the wound little by little over time. We often dont allow ourselves to feel the entire pain of those wounds…I mean like crying like à little baby for hours, go trough all the memories and get it over with. Because the truth is, this hurts just like the death of à relative…something broke, your friendship died. So you feel the pain attributed to death. You have several choices, one being to hold on to yur ego and heal in your dreams (for me it takes about 2 years), another being to let go of your ego and go to the core of why it hurts so much, why you love them ( cause clearly if youre hurt you still love them), allowing yourself to understand their point of view of rejecting you and you will Come to the conclusion that its ok. They made their choice, it doesnt mean the memories are less True to them or to you, its just that somehow They feel the need of à different experience. If you truely love them, you will let them go and forgive them overtime, even if you disagree with their choice…and eventually forgive yourself and acknowledge for feeling hurt. This probably has nothing to do with you. People reject the reflexion of what They dislike about themselves or their lives….or total jerks people. Most of the time you are not on the same page anymore and you will feel like you two dont even speak the same language when trying to communicate and explain yourselves. Time to grow some time appart and find out what you truely want from à friend and start being the change you want to see in this world. Its not about give and take. Its about be and give, from where I stand.

  7. BFFFL says:

    Hi! I’ve posted on here before under a different name but I have more to say this time…
    My bff, or BFFFL (we made it up together it means Best friends for freaking life, ha, as if…) we were friends for almost two years. I was also friends with her sister. I started being friends with her sister first, her younger sister. She’s my age and more socially awkward, she’s very shy, but really tough. She was my friend, we knew everything about each other, then suddenly this girl, I hated, and they both knew that, became friends with her and talked to me less. With the older sister, we talked every single day, then she got a boyfriend, and his sister was the girl I hated. The older one constantly told me that she was only friends with his sister because of him. LIES ALL LIES She claimed she was trying to protect me. ALL IT DID WAS HURT ME MORE MACY I DON’T GET WHY YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THAT. (sorry, emotional moment…) It wouldn’t have been so bad if the girl I hated started telling me I wasn’t really their friend. I don’t have that many friends, and they were the only two that knew everything about me. My crushes, my hates, my feelings, and most importantly, my past. Now I haven’t seen them since June. I’ve been having nightmares. NIGHTMARES I can’t take it anymore. I need her, but what do I say? I don’t really know, and I don’t want to mess it up more than I already have, she probably hates me now. But she’s forever in my mind. I miss her. I really do. Please help me figure out what to say. PLEASE

    • Dina says:

      Just be honest be yourself if they know you like you know them then no stress and you know exactly what to say and what to do Think about it

  8. Matthew taylor says:

    Hey i need some advice there a girl who i met when she started college back in 2014 and me and her were like getting to know eachother bit by bit and she and me were starting to get close cuz i started to have feelings for her and vice versa anyway me and her said we would be in contact with eachother as i was helping her and being there for her as she was alone during that period of time but in july 23rd 2015 i had finsh college so i ended up leaving her behind now up till near the end of september i was told by a mate of mine that she was going out with some lad ( tho its got nothing to do me but me and this were in a way going out but not actully going out ) and as it brought some horrible memories when i was mistreated by my ex i ened up sending this girl some nasty txt messages and putting a status bout her as i felt she was using bout a week later i phoned her and we spoke for abit till i asked her what i was told she said it was not true and how i hurt her badly i tried saying sorry and even sent her flowers as a way of showing i was in the wrong and 2 days later she blocks me on faceboook so is it tok late for me to make amends or is there stil some hope for me to repair this broken friendship need advice …

    • Mazie Gray says:

      Find a way to leave her a message and tell her how you feel. Try to come to terms with it if she doesn’t reply. There’s someone out there for you. She probably isn’t worth your time if she won’t give you the time of day.

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