• Handling Breakups

Can you rebuild trust after shutting someone out?

November 15, 2013 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels she made a grave mistake in shutting out her friend. Can she rebuild trust between them?

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I had a best friend who I recently shut out of my life. I realize now only a few days later that I made a grave mistake and that I would like to be friends again with this person. Is there anything I can do to win them back? Did I dig myself into too great a hole to go back to her?

Signed, Amber

ANSWER

Hi Amber,

It depends. It depends on how close you really were with your best friend and the reasons leading to the breakup. Was there something fundamentally wrong with the relationship? If so, is it reparable?

Or, was the breakup based on a misunderstanding that can be cleared up with communication?

It also depends on how hurt and upset your friend is feeling right now and whether she is ready or wiling to forgive you.

Since you feel like you made a big mistake, apologize now and don’t wait. It’s better to do is sooner than later. Since your friend probably feels hurt and angry, the best approach might be to send her a note or email telling her you made a grave mistake, treasure the friendship, and want to apologize, in-person. She may be eager to meet if she doesn’t know why this happened.

If she doesn’t respond, she may need more time to get over the blow of being dumped. So wait a couple of weeks and try again.

Understandably, when you shut someone out without explanation, you have to find a way to rebuild trust.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Apologies and forgiveness, HANDLING BREAKUPS, Making up after breaking up

Comments (6)

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  1. Sel says:

    Give it a go, contact her and see what happens. You have nothing to lose!

  2. Lauren says:

    PS I forgot to add that Dr Irene Levine wrote an excellent book, entitled Best Friends Forever, which is all about friendship situations.. It is a very good book and full of wise advice about friendships. I highly recommend this book.
    lauren

  3. Lauren says:

    Hi Amber,

    I hope that you can repair the damage. When you broke up with your friend, did you sit down with her /email /text her, and tell her exactly why you are letting her go?

    If so, there may be a lot of damage control to do. I think that it depends on the circumstances of the friendship break up and what you said and she said.

    You sound like you really regretted it. So go ahead and contact her and let her know that you made a mistake. If you let too much time pass, it may be too late.

    Also, review the climate of your friendship. Was it a respectful, fun , reciprocal, good friendship? If not, who was mostly to blame? Think about those things. Remember, sometimes distance lends enchantment. In other words, sometimes life looks better in retrospect.

    Sometimes, when a friend is getting to be too mean to me, too flakey, too disrespectful etc, I just let things drift for a while. I don’t actually have the “meaningful talk” with those friends. I never really thought that that worked anyway, in my experience. It only seems to work well in magazine articles, but in real life , it gets a bit messy.

    I hope that you find a solution which is good for you, and I wish you all the best in friendships and in life in general.
    Lauren

  4. Sheryl says:

    I agree it’s important not to wait; I think the longer you let time go on, the more difficult it will become. Your friend might not be so willing to forgive, though, right away, so it’s worthwhile to re-visit this after the “dust has settled.”

  5. Amy says:

    Whatever happens with your relationship, it is important for you to examine your behavior and learn from the experience. Is cutting people out of your life a pattern? If so, how can you better deal with conflict in relationships? Are you quick to take offense without giving people a chance to clear up any possible misconceptions? If so, how can you improve your communication skills?

    I think the best think you can do in this case is apologize to your friend, without qualification (not I’m sorry, but) and tell her your plan for moving forward in a healthier manner. Whether or not she accepts your apology will depend on the factors Irene mentioned. If you don’t hear back from her, I’d still send a holiday card and birthday card and perhaps try again in 6 months or a year. You want to respect her boundaries and not smother her, but still show your remorse and affinity for her.

    It takes a lot of guts to recognize your mistakes and apologize, so whatever happens, give yourself credit for that.

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