How to Repair a Failed Friendship
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Why Can't We Be Friends?1 of 7
By Alison Singh Gee
Misunderstandings, jealousy and unintended slights can all take their toll on our friendships—and even lead to full-on falling-outs. If you've split up someone who used to be your best buddy, then here's a step-by-step guide for getting back together. While you may not be BFFs again right away, you'll certainly be on the road to friendship recovery.
Rewind the Tape2 of 7
First, think about the relationship you had with your friend and draw up a list of pros and cons so you can weigh the columns against each other. "If that person really hurt you and you don't think she's really changed, then maybe you don't want to cause yourself such distress again by reconnecting," says psychiatrist Eva Ritvo. However, if you decide that you can really move on from whatever happened between the two of you, then allow your ability to forgive empower you, she says.
Own Your Stuff3 of 7
Before you reach out, know that playing the blame game won't fix anything at this point, says life coach Paula Renaye, author of The Hardline Self Help Handbook: What Are You Willing to Do to Get What You Really Want. "If you want to have any kind of peaceful relationship with your old friend, then accept that you had a role in what happened," she explains. Taking responsibility for your own mistakes will keep you from needing to defend yourself. "It's hard to argue with You're right, I made mistakes, and it keeps the door open for rebuilding the relationship," she says.
Put It in Writing4 of 7
When you're ready to reconnect, get out your laptop or even the old-fashioned pen and paper combo. Oftentimes, it's easier to communicate your feelings in writing, says Ritvo. "This can take the emotional tone out of things, because you can think about what you want to say and how to say it," she says. "Plus, it also allows your friend time to react." She advises that you put your thoughts down, and then let the letter sit for a few days so you can look it over with fresh eyes before sending it off. This is not the time to send a rushed email or note.
Work Together5 of 7
When the two of you reconnect in person, be honest about why you think your friendship fell apart. Try to talk calmly by explaining your emotions—such as I feel like we only get together when I cook for you. It would be really nice to be in your home for a meal—rather than from a position of defensiveness, says Ritvo. If you didn't own up to your part in weakening the friendship in writing, then make sure to apologize now, even if you don't think you were in the wrong, she says. At this point, it's not about being right; it's about focusing on the next chapter of your relationship.
Take It Slow6 of 7
When you decide to start hanging out again, "tread carefully," says Ritvo. "You're not going to be instant best friends again, and you definitely don't want to take a vacation together as a way of reconnecting. (She also cautions against meeting for happy hour, as drinking alcohol tends to draw out emotions.) Instead, rebuild the friendship by bonding over a common interest or taking up a hobby together, she suggests, whether it's salsa dancing, rollerblading or trying out a new restaurant.
Ditch the Déjà Vu7 of 7
If your friend tries to bring up the past, particularly what stopped you from being friends in the first place, then halt that train in its tracks. "Try saying something like, Who knows what was going on with us back then, but I know I sure missed you," says Renaye. "Then, refocus the attention on the positive by saying, Remember when we used to…? and talk about the things that you loved doing together back then or what brought you back together in the present."