You’ve had a massive argument. If you want to get your relationship back to what it was, what should you do? And what if you don’t?
1. Ask yourself what you want. If you want the friendship to recover and you know deep down that the bust-up isn’t worth losing each other over, proceed to the next step.
2. You might have to be the one to say you’re sorry. A heartfelt apology is hard – and sometimes it has to be given as a gift, without expectation of repayment. Apologising is an acknowledgment of culpability and is essential in healing a friendship wound. It may need to come from you.
3. Nothing gets better through procrastination. The longer you put off the previous step (a tough one), the less chance there is for a successful reconciliation.
4. Saying ‘I’m sorry you’re upset’ is not a heartfelt apology. Neither is ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’. But ‘I’m sorry I hurt you/let you down’ is a good start.
5. There are always two sides to every story. When the mist of righteous fury, self-defence and recrimination clears, accept the chance that you might not be totally blameless. (Owning up to this, to yourself, might make it easier to apologise.)
6. Using an SMS or e-mail is the coward’s way out. This is an occasion for courage and a face-to-face chat. Call your friend, arrange to meet for coffee and start with the apology. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know you did the right thing. And sometimes, when the outcome isn’t what you’d hoped for, knowing you have done ‘the right thing’ will make you feel a little better.
7. Human beings’ first form of defence is often to attack. You might both have to say some more honest and painful things before you are ready to put the hurt behind you. But at some point you must both agree to let the mudslinging stop. Just as procrastination doesn’t solve problems, holding on to grudges doesn’t rebuild friendships.
8. You might not convince her to accept that you were 100% right and she was 100% wrong. Suck it up. Compromise is usually the best outcome one can hope for when resolving disputes. Her acknowledging some blame and you doing the same is the result to aim for.
9. Until a friendship is tested it isn’t a friendship. No relationship exists in a state of constant harmony and it is in the nature of human beings that our imperfections sometimes disappoint, hurt or upset others. When you can accept each other’s faults and still love each other, you can call yourselves true friends.
10. Is an apology enough? Only you can tell. If someone who has hurt you apologises and tries to rehabilitate the relationship but you cannot find it in your heart to forgive, you will have to acknowledge that the friendship is over. The graceful response is to accept the apology but admit that too much damage has been done, then let the relationship die. Don’t maintain the corpse of an old friendship because you’re too cowardly to be honest and allow it to be eaten up with grudges, resentment and unhealed wounds.
11. If your hurt and disappointment stem from a pattern of intolerable actions or behaviour on the part of your ex-friend, and if the answer to the question in point one (‘What do I want?’) is ‘not to be friends with her any more’, it’s okay to ignore all of the above advice and de-friend her on Facebook. Even the oldest, firmest friendships can run their course. If any friendship isn’t giving you the fun, support and loyalty we all deserve, it’s 100% okay to lay it to rest.