Losing a friend hurts, but sometimes the damage is repairable. Read about how to Revive Broken or Lost Friendship following Simple Steps.
No matter how long ago you two parted ways, you still reminisce about the good — and often heartfelt — times you and your best friend once shared.
Being a shoulder to lean on post-breakup.
Laughing until your bellies ached.
Defending one another from the schoolyard bully.
Standing at the end of the aisle on their big day.
But when adult responsibilities like parenting, marriage, and a career enfold, those meaningful connections begin slipping away.
Or may a breach of trust or relentless stubbornness is straining your bond. Let bygones be bygones! Here are five ways to Revive Broken Friendship.
Make the First Move
It’s possible that you and your long-lost friend both want to mend your connection. But you’ll never for sure unless you extend the olive branch.
It all begins with that first message.
How to Reach Out
No matter how close you (or your families) once were, assume that whatever open-door policy existed has since expired. Nobody wants a surprise guest barging in as they’re stirring the pasta or taking a bath — especially a frenemy.
You shouldn’t knock on their front door unannounced, but you can:
- Send them a private message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
- Fire off a text
- Give them a call
- Deliver a Christmas card, birthday greeting, or “thinking of you” letter
Waiting for a response can be nerve-wracking. Especially in the digital age where read receipts can feel like a gut-wrenching rejection.
Send the message, and give it some time to simmer. Don’t follow up with a “?” or angsty message if they don’t answer immediately. If your friend is in a forgiving headspace, you’ll probably hear back within 24-72 hours.
What to Say
The message’s content is even more crucial than tapping that “send” button. You want to find the happy medium that’s not too distanced (“hi”) but also not too heavy or blame-assigning (“I want to talk about why you stole my money.”)
So, what do you say?
Start with something light-hearted and short.
That can be a simple “Hope all is well.” Or letting them know that a particular pub, mutual friend, or radio tune jogged your memory and made you think of them.
Don’t mention the elephant in the room from the get-go.
Ask to Have an Honest Discussion
The hard truth is that your ex-friend doesn’t have to respond to your message, and it’s their right to block your number or delete you as a friend. Such is life.
But if you’re lucky enough to get an answer, proceed cautiously, and do this:
Ask to Talk In Any Way *Other* Than Written Text
Texting is convenient and allows for flexible time communication (on your break, at the park, or while watching Hulu). Yet, it can also be a relationship-ruiner. Due to its limitations — misconstrued tone, no eye contact, no back-and-forth.
Was that a passive-aggressive “sure?” Or is she enthusiastic about meeting?
Avoid this problem entirely by asking to meet up or talk sans-text.
That leaves you with quite a few options:
- A pre-planned phone call or video chat
- Walking at the park
- Going for a drive
- Meeting at the coffee shop
A word to the wise: You might have been regulars in one another’s homes, but that trust is currently teetering on the edge. Suggest a public place, if possible.
If they express discomfort about being in a car with you, weigh other ideas. Don’t pressure them or give them ultimatums (“The only way I’ll see you is if it’s ___”).
What to Talk About
If your friend didn’t want to rebuild the friendship or at least hear what you had to say, they would’ve declined the offer. But if the gap extends years or even decades, that first meet-up can be like getting to know a stranger. An important step when reading about Revive Broken Friendship.
Start slow and ease into the nitty-gritty topics.
Ask about what they’ve been up to since you’ve spoken last. Say something like, “I saw on Facebook that you….” or “[mutual friend] mentioned that you ….” to bust through those awkward silences.
Focus on these innocent topics, if you can.
If you heard there was trouble in paradise in their marriage, save that conversation for when your relationship is stronger. If your friend pulled up in a beat-up Honda instead of their pride and joy BMW, don’t ask if they’re struggling financially.
These seemingly harmless conversation starters can sound snobby or passive-aggressive.
Use “I” Statements & Never Assume
Once you get the small talk out of the way and share a few smiles, try to guide the conversation to what led to the friendship’s demise (betrayal, moving away, etc.).
Warning: Tip-toe around this chat carefully to avoid turning it into a blame game.
How to Use “I” Statements
An “I” statement (or message) is a way of expressing yourself without shifting the blame or assigning fault to somebody else. The beauty in life is that we can all experience the same thing yet come away with a unique perspective.
You cannot possibly know that your friend said something intending to hurt you, and it’s not fair to shame them as if they did.
Here’s the difference an “I” statement can make:
- “You hurt me when you …” vs. “I felt hurt when you …”
- “You didn’t care that I …” vs. “To me, it seemed like you didn’t care that …”
- “You didn’t appreciate when I …” vs. “I was worried that you’d …”
Take your words slowly, and don’t respond impulsively when you feel cornered. The goal is to keep this conversation calm and voices low. Slipping and listing your former buddy’s faults will only put them on defense mode and ruin the progress.
As satisfying as it’d be to start with, “While we’re here, is there anything you want to apologize about?” being passive-aggressive isn’t a good look. But even if your pal doesn’t cave and list their shortcomings, that doesn’t mean you should too.
Acknowledge your faults, and, most importantly, apologize!
Be honest about what you did wrong. Admit how your actions or words could have caused anger or seemed like an intentional betrayal — no matter how petty it seems.
“I’m sorry that I told everyone about your engagement before you could. I didn’t realize how I was hurting you until I put myself in your shoes.”
Don’t try to play them down like they weren’t that big of a deal. They were to your friend. Apologize because you’re self-aware, not because you know an “I’m sorry” can possibly rebound the friendship ASAP.
Listen Twice as Much as You Speak
The most anxiety-inducing part is the unknown: Letting the person you betrayed or hurt express how they feel about you now. But remember that any healthy friendship is an equal two-way street, not a side street or a highway.
Give them the floor, and don’t interrupt or jump to your own defense.
Put those active listening skills to good use! Don’t listen to your friend ramble on about why your actions bothered them while trying to jumble together a response.
Ask them questions about particular things they said:
- What bothered you the most about when I …?
- How did you feel when I …?
- How has ___ affected you since?
- What would you have wished I’d done differently?
- How could I have responded better (or made the situation better) at the time?
Try not to ask questions to earn fake brownie points. The information your ex-friend reveals can help you reestablish your relationship. It may even strengthen your connection with others by pointing out flaws you didn’t realize you had.
Prioritize Improving the Relationship Moving Forward
Surviving that stressful first meet-up can be quite relieving and like a weight off your conscience. However, all relationships require time and effort on both sides to last.
Things won’t be back to normal as you part ways. You probably won’t vent about your last break-up, ask for baby name advice, or buy concert tickets together the day after you decide to join forces again.
You might not even hug like your usual “goodbye” greeting.
What you should do is be the friend you should’ve been before things went awry.
Offer a listening ear if they sound overwhelmed, but don’t force them to spill the beans. Take note of their boundaries, and don’t wiggle your way past them (i.e., only wanting to hang out in groups for a while).
Give the relationship an honest shot at blossoming.
Don’t “test” your friend by not reaching out for days to see if they’ll initiate contact. And if you were mostly responsible for the turmoil, read your friend’s cues.
This five-step process can repair a relationship that once meant the world to you. But before you jump on the bandwagon, ask yourself this one question:
Is this relationship worth reviving?
If the friendship was toxic, constant drama, based on falsehoods, or you can’t find it in yourself to forgive and forget what happened, let it go.
They weren’t your first friend, and they certainly won’t be your last. Hope you love reading “Revive Broken Friendship”
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech at Greenville to help them with their online marketing.
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