How to Mend a Broken Friendship

Hispanic friends walking on beach
Two men hugging on the beach. (Image: Ronnie Kaufman/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Gone are the days when you and your best friend shared everything from your deepest secrets to your favorite clothes. Whether you're at fault or she is, mending a broken friendship is far from easy. If the relationship means enough that you aren't willing to simply throw it away, fixing it is possible. With a pinch of patience, clear communication and the ability to either apologize or accept an apology -- depending which one is at fault -- you can get your friendship back on track.

Step 1

List the reasons for your break. Include specifics such as, "Tom stole my girlfriend." Consider your own faults as well as his in the list.

Step 2

Decide how you measure a friendship. Look inward to understand what's important to you in a friend. Doing so allows you to decide what you can forgive and what you can't based on the qualities that you look for in a friend. If you're at fault for the breakup, try this step in reverse: Consider what being a friend means to you.

Step 3

Start small. You aren't likely to rebuild a broken friendship in one conversation. Begin the mending process with a discussion over coffee. If that goes well, move on to a more intense conversation over lunch or dinner.

Step 4

Apologize if you're at fault. Fess up to your wrongdoing. Even if your friend already knows what you've done to ruin the relationship, acknowledging it shows her that you're accepting responsibility for the failure. Make a "sorry" statement that includes specifics instead of making a general apology. Avoid statements such as, "You know, I'm sorry for that" in favor of a more focused statement like, "I'm sorry for taking credit for your work and getting the promotion instead of you."

Step 5

Show regret. Just saying that you're "sorry" might not do enough to mend a broken friendship. Express exactly how sorry your are for your actions. For example, tell your friend, "I have never felt so badly about hurting someone as I do now. I was selfish when I stole your boyfriend and I won't ever see him again if that means we can mend our friendship." Tell your friend that you won't disappoint her again. Reassure her that if she accepts you back, you won't make the same mistake twice.

Step 6

Take a trip together or carve out time for an intimate friendship outing. Go on a weekend camping trip, take a hike or spend the day shopping at the mall together. Choose an activity that allows plenty of talking time. Avoid ideas that that don't allow this, such as watching a movie or going to a loud rock concert.

Step 7

Reminisce about old memories. Talk about the good times that you've had or look back through photos of the two of you together.

Step 8

Give it time. Mending a friendship doesn't happen overnight. Accept that you -- or your friend -- might not get over the problematic issue right away. His offense may stick in your mind for some time to come. Take a step back and either wait for your friend to accept you again or -- if he's the one who is at fault -- think about whether you can truly move on with the relationship.

Warning

Don't over-apologize. Saying "I'm sorry" repeatedly won't make your friendship return any quicker. Apologizing again and again for the same offense might turn your friend off and make him think that your "sorry" isn't sincere.

Avoid making a non-apology if you're the cause of the friendship split. Don't use wording that takes the blame off you. For example, don't say, "I'm sorry that you had to end the friendship after what I did." Instead say something along the lines of "I'm sorry that my behavior caused a rift between us."

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