• Handling Breakups

How long does it take an angry friend to get over it?

Published: April 7, 2016 | By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
A woman wonders how long to give her angry friend before she contacts her again.


Dear Friendship Doctor,

My close friend asked to cool off after a dispute that happened between us about a week ago. She asked me not to contact or message her, as she will contact me when the time is right. What does this mean? Am I losing the friendship? Will this waiting be indefinite?

Signed, Sara


Hi Sara,

When two friends have a contentious argument, one or both of them may want to wait until cooler heads prevail so they can discuss what happened more dispassionately. If your friend hasn’t reached out to you, you don’t need to wait indefinitely to contact her but I think you do want to give her some time.

It’s hard to give you specific guidance because you haven’t explained exactly what happened. In general, the length of time needed depends on the people, their relationship and the nature of the conflict.

For example, if the friendship is long-standing and it has a solid foundation, it’s more likely that you’ll get over this incident in a short time. On the other hand, if it’s a new friendship, that might be harder. Or, if you did something very egregious (e.g., stole your friend’s property; dissed her to her employer, etc.), it will also be harder to make up than after a simple misunderstanding.

One tip: If you know you did something wrong or said something wrong, it is always better to apologize as soon as possible. If this is the case and she’s said she doesn’t want to talk to you, perhaps you can send her a snail mail note.

If you aren’t sure what happened, a week is a reasonable period of time to wait before contacting her again. Perhaps, you can sent her a text saying that you feel badly about what happened and hope she’s ready to talk about it. Then you might try once more a few weeks later. After that, you’ve made your interest in remaining friends clear and the ball is in her court.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (14)

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  1. Just Me says:

    Hmmm….I am not sure who the angry friend is in my case; me or her. I was going through something kinda difficult to handle emotionally. I confided in her and then she almost immediately started treating me with a different demeanor after giving me a lecture that I need to toughen up and get over it. I confronted her about treating me different after confiding in her and that I didnt appreciate it. She then shot back that it was in my head, that I was wrong and to stop it. From that point on….the only form of communication with her was to ask I wanted to attend social events that a bunch of other people were going to and nothing more than that….going on a month now. We have not spoken as friends since that time. I feel like actions since my confrontation have been confirmed but now it seems like both of us are standing our ground. If I did something wrong, I will apologize, but I dont think I did by standing up for myself, expressing a concern I had.

  2. Sandra says:

    I’ve come across several articles about friendship, some quoting Dr. irene, that suggest our friendships change or end every 7 years. (There’s a 7-year-itch for friendships?) Some friendships seem to fade out naturally and peacefully, because of circumstances, and it could be that others have a less than happy ending due to conflict or changes in expectations of the friendship. I would respect your friend’s request for space – and let her come to you when she’s ready, if the friendship is meant to continue. If you’ve made it clear that you are willing to discuss any problems in the relationship, and your friend still wants “time off” from you, there’s nothing more you can do. Meanwhile, spend time with other friends you enjoy.

  3. Tracy says:

    I did this to a friend once and we had a long standing friendship. In the end my “give me space” comment led to me never contacting her again. I will say i regret taking the coward’s way out and never giving her closure but I also felt incredibly disrespected during a very difficult time in my life. I had gone to her several times and told her that this thing she did was really hard to tolerate but she didn’t see fit to change. In the end, I guess doing her thing was more important to her than accommodating me. I do not regret getting her out of my life but I wish i had gone back and explained. My experience leads me to believe that if someone asks you for space – give it. Let them get back to you. If an inordinate amount of time elapses I think it’s ok to ask if they want to talk or end things. Closure is good for everyone but I wouldn’t push it

  4. Judge Judy says:

    When someone tells you in no uncertain terms not to contact them, you don’t contact them, period.

  5. Arlene says:

    It is vague what your dispute was about. I have often taken this position of no contact when a dispute has occurred like a long time close friend being drunk and publicly humiliating me which I didn’t find funny as she did, or a friend not being there for me through my family crisis although I was there over and over before and after her divorce but treated her no show to me as just an an opps! Like who needs more of this. So it would depend what the dispute was about and how close the friendship. Sometimes an apology is all that is needed and sometimes not. Regardless if I was to receive an apology it must be sincere about the damage caused and if I was still not willing to be hurt again, I would hope you would change your way of doing business and not hurt another woman. It would be a loss for both of us. Even though I choose to walk away to minimize more heart break there is still a great sadness at the loss of the good times we shared.

  6. Salstarat says:

    Sometimes a trite “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough when you have been the one to cause a rift in a long-standing friendship. If you offended your friend, there are three things that you must do as soon as possible:

    1) First up, you must ACKNOWLEDGE that it was YOU who made a mistake. Address the problem by making a SINCERE apology that, in no way, deflects blame on something or someone else. NEVER EVER use the word ‘BUT’ after an apology because that insinuates that your apology is not really genuine and that you are trying to put the blame on someone else;

    2) Promise your friend that you will never make that mistake again – and MEAN IT and, most importantly …

    3) Ask your friend what YOU can do to remedy your friendship. This last step is imperative to show your friend that you are willing to go the extra mile to repair the damage done.

    My suggestion is that you put all this down in a snail mail letter which states, at the end, that you will respect her boundaries and not contact her until she is ready. When someone offends another, they must have the courage to ADMIT that they were wrong, take it on the chin and make a sincere effort to remedy the friendship.

  7. Salstarat says:

    Sometimes it is not sufficient just to say a trite “I’m sorry” and expect everything to return to normal. If you did something to offend your friend you need to do three things as soon as possible:

    1) You need to acknowledge that you made a terrible mistake and offended your friend – make NO excuses and do not attempt to deflect the blame on someone else. NEVER use the word “BUT” after any apology because that insinuates that you are NOT sincere in acknowledging that you are at fault.

    2) You must apologise SINCERELY. Take it on the chin and have the courage to accept the blame and give your friend a heartfelt apology. Promise her that you will not do it again. Then, and most importantly ..

    3) You must ask what YOU can do to REMEDY the problem. This third step is imperative.

    My suggestion is that you put all this down in a snail mail letter which has the closing statement that you will respect her boundaries and make no further contact until she is ready.

  8. KH says:

    I would respect the friends wishes for time and space. I would also NOT beat myself up about the situation…everyone at some point or time has offended or made someone upset and usually not intentionally. So, if you have hurt your friend and you’ve given space, extended apologies and they still need “space and time”…well it’s on them. Move forward and keep living.

    And Yes!! When you set realistic expectations for your friendships then you will know and understand what you’re getting. When I finally realized that…it made the world of difference for me in friendships. I know what to expect from whom now! Ex: some friends are only there in the bad times, so don’t expect them to show up during your good times. Some friends are “good time friends”, so when you have troublesome things going on , they probably wont’ be there. When we learn this…it saves us some much heartache from expecting something that some people are not able to give!

  9. Amy F says:

    I know a week feels like a long time, but it’s really not. It seems longer to you because you’re hoping for a call, but she’s probably key focused on living her life and I encourage you to do the same.

    I would not contact your friend, since she specifically asked you not to message her. Disrespecting her boundaries will probably make her think you’re putting your need to contact her above her desire for space. Anger takes as long as it takes. If she has a birthday or December holidays before she’s contacted you, sending a card would be fine,

  10. CeCe says:

    It took my friend 5 years to contact me. After a misunderstanding, she had requested distance and no contact, which I didn’t respect. I finally got it when a letter I sent to her came back with her handwriting “RETURN TO SENDER”. I finally stopped trying to reconnect.

    Forward to 5 years, our friendship is stronger than ever. The difference now is I’ve learned to let go and expect nothing from her. When I expect nothing then I get something, it’s a gift!

    Good luck.

    • Linda says:

      CeCe, you brought up an important truth about friendship. Our “expectations” of other people really impact the relationship. I find, too, that when I pause and ask myself what I am expecting from my friends and why — and what they expect from me — it changes my perspective. Thanks for mentioning this.

    • Salstarat says:

      WOW, if a so-called “friend” didn’t bother to contact me in more than FIVE YEARS, I would NOT continue with that friendship! Someone who didn’t care enough about you as to not visit, phone or even email you in five years is not worthy of your friendship. Go out and find someone deserving of your friendship … the world is FULL of people who are desperate for good friends. Surround yourself with positive, happy and supportive people .. life is too short to hang around with negative, egocentric people who like to tear you down.

  11. Ben says:

    Respect means that I have to respect anyone who tells me they do not want any contact. Regardless of reason or justification your friend has told you not to contact her. You need to respect that. I have been on the giving and receiving end of such requests and I respect that boundary set. If it happens over cell phone I delete the number so as to not be tempted to call. I believe heartily in “it is what it is.” I believe in reality as it is not as I wish it to be. If you respect this boundary and she decides to communicate with you then you can think about her reasons for putting up a boundary. You can also use this time to reflect on why that boundary was raised. If you can search your heart and find you did nothing worthy of that boundary you can rest in that knowledge. If you did something worthy of that boundary and she communicates with you, you can apologize. If you apologize do just that. The apologies are ones that are explained away or justified. If you did something to offend then apologize for just that.

  12. Jared says:

    I’d wait at least a month to see if she contacted me first. Then, I’d e-mail an apology of some type to see if she responds. If she doesn’t, I’d let it go.

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