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

September 1, 2010 | By | 77 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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  1. 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

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