Saving Your Guy-Gal Friendship

Kelli was perfectly content in her friendship with Treven, until one night after choir rehearsal he courageously shared his romantic feelings for her and wondered if she felt the same. Kelli’s first thought was: “Treven, you idiot! Why did you have to go and ruin our friendship?!”

Our research team wanted to understand what differentiates the friendships that dissolve from the friendships that make it? If we could answer this question, we could give solid advice to people like Kelli and Treven, and save a few friendships.

We asked both lovers and lovees about a time a friendship either lasted or dissolved after full disclosure. We compared the factors that were present in friends who made it to the factors that were present for friends who signed off. Statistically, there were clear differences, allowing us to make some recommendations for dealing with this delicate situation.

In friendships that lasted:

1. The friends actively pursued the friendship. This might seem self-evident, but some people’s inclination is to shut down. You have to consciously do things that keep the friendship going, especially when it’s vulnerable. Verbally affirm the importance of the friendship and continue doing the same behaviors and activities you did before.

2. The friends honestly wanted to remain friends. Whether you truly want to keep the friendship, even if it can’t be romantic, is a question only you can answer. If the friendship isn’t that meaningful, it probably won’t survive this rock in the road, and maybe that’s okay.

3. The friends accepted that the feelings were not mutual. A great attitude to have, whether you are the lover or the lovee is: “Whoops, yep, our feelings aren’t the same, oh well, want to get lunch?”

5. The friends saw the friendship as “open” before the disclosure. Have you already talked honestly about things like insecurities, other relationships, goals and dreams? You’ll do better than the folks without these previous intimate conversations.

So, what about in friendship that fell apart? Here’s what not to do. In friendships that dissolved:

1. The friends became awkward, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. Whether you are the lover or lovee, avoid the awkward silence, lack of eye contact, and endless apologies-these only make it harder.

2. The lover continued to hope that the other would ultimately reciprocate. Would-be lovers, please avoid the doe eyes, the “What’s wrong with me, that you don’t love me?”, and the offers for a back massage.

3. The lovee admitted past romantic feelings for the friend or suggested such feelings might develop in the future. No, no, no, no, no! This is not the time to be sweet, at least not in this way. This will only lead him on, and take you back to problem number two on this list.

It is absolutely okay to be in this situation. Try not to blame yourself, and try not to blame the other person. You can keep this friendship if you remember these tips, and do as the British say- “Keep Calm and Carry On!”

Heidi Reeder, Ph.D. is the author of the forthcoming book, Commit to Win (Hudson Street Press).

Let’s connect on: Twitter, Facebook, and www.heidireeder.com.

Reference: The original research for this blog can be found in Ch. 2 & 4 of the following book, edited by Michael T. Motley, available at Amazon.com: Studies in Applied Interpersonal Communication

How to Heal a Broken Friendship

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In a perfect world, you’d treat your friends like a saint 24/7. But you’re human, and sometimes you mess up.

Maybe you spilled your friend’s secret after you swore to keep it on the DL, or you blurted out something hurtful in the heat of the moment. Deep breath: Your friendship is not doomed.

“Most of the time you’ll be able to fix the problem, but depending on what happened, you also have to be prepared for the possibility that your friend is just too hurt to reconcile,” says Carlin Flora, a friendship expert and author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are.

Take these steps to let your girl know that you realize you made a mistake-and you want to patch things up ASAP.

1. Craft your apology. Let’s say that you often ditched your friend for a guy you were dating, and now that your relationship with him is kaput, you want her back. It’s important to consider what your exact apology is going sound like-and really think about the wording-before you approach her. “Otherwise you could find yourself rambling and apologizing for the wrong thing, which could make you feel uncomfortable and throw you off track, thereby worsening the problem,” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix. In this case, the “wrong thing” could be that you apologize for dating the guy. But chances are, that’s not what you’re sorry about. The more nuanced-and accurate-version is likely that you weren’t sensitive to her feelings and ditched her without saying sorry. Be sure to zero-in on your message before you talk to her so you clearly present your case.

RELATED: 11 Ways to Truly Reconnect with Friends

2. Show some emotion. You’ve been pondering a lot about what to say, so it’s tempting to just bust in and rapid-fire your apology out so that you can get the whole “My bad!” over with already. Don’t do it! You need to give her time to process what you’re saying. Slow down and start the talk by telling your friend how much you love her and miss her. “If you begin by saying something like, ‘We need to talk,’ or ‘We need to hash things out,’ it will trigger fear, and she is more likely to immediately close up or become defensive,” Flora says. “But if you go straight for the emotional appeal, she’ll be more primed to want to work things out, so you’ll be able to have a more truthful conversation.”

3. Ask how she feels. After you say your part, ask your friend how she feels, Bonior suggests. Something like “I’m sure I made you feel pretty awful” will prompt her to elaborate on her feelings. Listen, apologize again, and add, “I’d really like to be friends again…what do you think?” so the ball is in her court, Bonior says. Remember, you’re the one who messed up, and she deserves to forgive (or not) as she feels fit.

4. Suggest something fun. Once you wrap things up, there’s that awkward “What next?” moment. Sticking around can drag out the issue, so ask her to do something you enjoyed together back when your friendship was fine such as going to yoga class or getting a manicure. “Doing a familiar activity will help you get back on track so you can move forward and not dwell on the problem,” Bonior says. You can also switch gears and plan a future event, maybe a dinner or going to a party together. The important thing is that you’re focusing on your future as friends, not fixating on your past tension.

RELATED: Surprising Celebrity Besties

5. Let time works its magic. Don’t assume that once you apologize everything will instantly be happy-go-lucky again. “These things take time, and just because you came forward, you can’t expect her to instantly forgive you and for things to go back to exactly the way they were,” Flora cautions. If you feel that you left things a tad unresolved, it’s fine to go back a week later and check in. Otherwise just let it be-and be sure to not make the same mistake again.

  • By Annie Daly

Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStoc/Getty Images

Some friendships are relationships you’ll have for the rest of your life, but unless you’re very, very lucky, those aren’t the norm. Most often, friendship looks like something messier: People will float in and out of your life as you change, or they change, or circumstances change. There are moves. There are fallings-out. Schedules get busy. You’re probably not still super tight with your seventh-grade best friend; in fact, as you enter your 30s, you begin to shed a lot of the friends you made in your earlier years. In most cases, that doesn’t mean you’ve banished those people from your life forever; it just means you’ve gone in different directions. Maybe someday you’ll find your way back.

But reviving a friendship that’s died requires more than just hitting the play button on something that’s been paused, explains Irene Levine, a psychiatry professor at NYU and the author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend. It’s not as simple as just picking up the relationship you had before. It’s also more difficult than starting things from scratch with someone new. Here’s her advice for how to get things rolling with a new old friend.

Think long and hard before you start things up again.

Whether you broke up with some sense of finality or just let things fade out, there’s a reason you ended things last time around — and whatever pushed you two apart may not have gone away. “Sometimes we romanticize our friendships, and maybe we forget some of the reasons why we ended ,” Levine says. “You might be going back into the same morass that you left.”

Before you try to reach out, then, it might be wise to take some time and do a friendship postmortem: Were you too busy to make much time for each other? If that was the case, has it really changed? Or, alternatively, if you couldn’t stand the way she sucked at listening and made everything about her, what makes you think you’d be okay with it now? “If you think it’s going to be a completely different person than the person you broke up with, you’re probably being unrealistic,” Levine warns. That’s not to say that they haven’t gotten better, or that it’s not worth giving things a shot — just that you should be clear-eyed about what makes a friendship deal-breaker for you, and be prepared to abort the mission if you need to.

Pretend you’re getting to know them for the first time.

Especially if you’ve just moved, it can be tempting to contact everyone in your phone that lives in your new city — an old camp buddy, an elementary-school classmate, really anybody who’s ever been more than an acquaintance. That’s understandable! While making new friends can be a little awkward and daunting, the whole dance is a bit more comfortable with people you were once close to: “You do have a foundation of shared experiences,” Levine says. “So it does give you a jump start in the friendship.”

Still, that doesn’t mean you should immediately assume the same level of intimacy you once had. “You might want to try to become acquaintances first, rather than friends,” she says. You may be starting slightly further ahead than you would with someone brand-new, but you’re still going to want to let things unfold at the same pace as you would after hitting it off with a stranger. Start with coffee, not a spill-your-guts vent session.

Because, in a way, they are. Even if you have that easy, clicking, friendship-at-first-sight feeling once you see them again, it takes more than a spark to make a relationship worthy of your time. “You really need experience and time to build trust with another person, whether it’s an old friend or a new friend,” Levine says. Ease often complements things like trust, but it isn’t a stand-in.

Besides, that sense of instant reconnection might be one-sided — we can often be blinded by our own desire to make things work, whether out of loneliness or excitement over having this person back in our lives. And that optimism can make it easy to miss red flags, or signs that the other person isn’t as into the reunion. “You might misperceive social cues, she might not be listening when you think she is, or she might be judgmental and you don’t realize,” Levine explains. If you run headlong into insta-friendship, you might not notice that it’s not a fit until after you’ve already invested time and emotional energy. Being cautious, on the other hand, keeps you from that’s pouring yourself into a relationship that’s a nonstarter; if things progress more slowly back into genuine friendship, it’s more likely to be a real, sustainable bond.

Give them time to process (and don’t take it personally).

Another way to make sure you’re both equally invested in reviving your friendship: Don’t pressure them into starting things right away. Email is better for first contact than a call or text, Levine says, because it’s less immediate. “It gives the other person a chance to think about it,” she explains. “Just because you’re ready to rekindle a friendship doesn’t mean the other person’s ready — you’ve given it a lot of thought, but the other person could be caught off guard.” If they’re into the idea, great! Make that coffee date.

If they blow you off, though, try to keep in mind — even though it’s easier said than done — that it’s probably more about them than about you. “The other person may be fully engaged,” Levine says. “They may have a lot of friendships, they may be juggling work and personal matters, they may not have any more bandwidth to have one more friend.” And that’s the reality of friendships, for better or worse: They’re all part connection, part timing. It’s the reason you can’t hold on to all the friends you’ve ever had. But it’s also the reason that you can know, if you do ever get back together, that there’s a real shot at making it work again — because you’re in the right place at the right time. And if you’re very, very lucky, you might get to a point where you forget you ever hit pause to begin with.

For years I had a downright bad relationship with my younger sister. When we were very little we were best friends, but sometime around high school we drifted apart and never quite rekindled our friendship. As we grew up, the space between us felt odd and awkward. Whenever she was around, I grumbled about her, but as soon as she left, I felt terrible and sad. I had some serious negative thoughts about her. For starters I truly believed that she solicited my parents attention by playing the baby and that they responded by treating her better! I know, I know, that sounds so childish, especially for an adult woman, and it was. But in the moment, it was these terrible thoughts that popped into my head and ran amok.
I remember one particular vacation at the shore watching my three kids climb all over her and have a glorious time. It took her getting on a plane and going home for me to figure out that I needed to talk to her about this, so I called her.
When she got on the phone I confessed. “Guess what? I think Mom and Dad treat you better, like a baby, and it drives me nuts!” She was quiet and then said, “I think Mom and Dad treat you better, like you are bigger, more accomplished!” So for the next three hours we went back and forth bringing up the deep, dark thoughts we had about each other; all through it, I was blown away that she actually thought that my parents treated me better than her!
By the end of our conversation, we had resolved a lot, copped to feeling jealous, apologized a fair amount, too, and promised to keep the channels of communication open forever more. When I hung up the phone, I felt incredibly proud and happy; it was like a weight had been lifted. It felt so good to confess what I had been thinking, and it was even better to find out that a lot of it I had invented myself to cover up my own feelings of insecurity and jealousy.
And what was even more curious was that when I fixed my relationship with my sister, it altered the way that I operated. Long gone were the days of bottling up my thoughts; I promised to bring up issues with other people as soon as they happened. Even more importantly, I let go of my egocentric tendency to think that I knew what was going on for the other person. I now saw that I had no clue and that the only way to find out was to actually speak up!
Relationships, friendships and being connected to people are essential parts of human existence. As a Handel Group Life Coach, I really enjoy coaching people on their issues and getting them to open up about what isn’t working in their relationship.

The last F in BFF doesn’t always mean forever. Bummer, since new research shows that women seek close one-on-one friendships, whereas men collect a loose-knit posse. “Compare our ‘face to face’ relationships of having coffee and the ‘shoulder to shoulder’ experience of two guys watching the game,” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix. That dynamic makes our bonds more intimate—and more explosive. Despite women’s rep for being great communicators, some make-or-break friendship moments can leave us speechless. Here, five scenarios based on real-life stories…and how the eff to handle them with the care they (and you) deserve.

RELATED: How Friendship Changes in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

“Christine and I have been buds since our twenties. We’ve had great times together—granted, many of them involving alcohol. I got married and had kids, but her life hasn’t changed very much. She showed up drunk to a holiday dinner and nearly dropped my 2-year-old son. Then she got pissed when I got upset.”

What went wrong: These two are in different life stages now, though neither has openly addressed it. “Getting married and having kids is one of the biggest reasons female friendships drift apart,” says Bonior. You may think things haven’t changed, but time is tougher to come by, and the children are now your top priority.

Defuse or detonate? Let’s address the third friend in this situation: Captain Morgan. If you were truly just drinking buddies, that ship has sailed. Chances are, other mutual interests kept you together, says psychiatrist Amy Banks, M.D., author of . So she nearly dropped your son. Not good. Still, women tend to globalize an isolated incident. Ask yourself: What about all the times she listened to me bitch about diaper duty, or had my back during a rough patch at work? She deserves another chance. Frame it as “I care about you and am worried about what happened,” rather than “You need to control your drinking,” says clinical psychologist Jill Squyres, Ph.D. It comes from a place of empathy, not judgment. And make time for QT. “Once a month, have brunch with her, away from your kid,” she says.

“I was going through a period of depression when my closest friend, Melissa, abruptly broke up with me on the sidewalk. ‘I can’t hang out with you anymore. My therapist says you’re toxic. I spend more time in there talking about you than myself.’ I haven’t seen her since, and it’s been hard for me to get close with anyone again.”

What went wrong: “In healthy relationships, it’s instinctive to want to help pals through difficult times,” says Banks. So yeah, you kinda lost the friendship lottery here. But remember that it’s not always about you. (When you’re depressed, everything feels like it is.) “She might have something going on in her life and can’t be around negativity right now,” says Banks.

Defuse or detonate? This friendship may be ovah, but in the future, know this: You can’t unload all your drama on one person, says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of Better Than Perfect. “Putting that burden on others isn’t fair.” Instead, a professional therapist can unpack your problems and help you open up to people without feeling vulnerable.

RELATED: How to Control Your Tears When a Conversation Gets Way Heavy

“Denise and I have a blast going out—shopping, karaoke, movies—when I can get her out. She’d be happy just to chill at home. One night I got so annoyed about always having to make plans that I said I wasn’t going to call her. If she wanted to be my friend, she’d have to call me. She didn’t.”

What went wrong: What should have been a discussion escalated into an ultimatum. She took this as a personal attack when it’s a personality difference, says Lombardo. Some people are planners; others show up. As frustrating as it is for a Type A person, this “issue” likely wasn’t even on the friend’s radar.

Defuse or detonate? Depends. “Some friends never initiate anything, but we still love to be around them,” says Bonior. “You should address the resentment, though. Say, ‘I feel like I’m the one keeping the friendship afloat, and it makes me feel like you don’t care.’ If she responds, ‘I’m not an initiator,’ say, ‘Fine. What if we have a standing dinner date and we alternate who makes the rez?'” If she still makes no effort with plans, it could be that she’s just not that into you.

“After I helped her score a job at my office, Katie and I got close, fast. Within three months, she moved into my building, started going to my colorist, even dated my husband’s friends. Then I lost my job. I got a lead for a new position, and she acted like my biggest cheerleader. Turns out, she went behind my back and got the gig for herself. When I confronted her, she said she ‘won fair and square.'”

What went wrong: It’s easy to place all the blame on the opportunistic friend, but a teensy bit of the onus is on you. “Sometimes when it seems like you’re soul mates, it’s that the other person doesn’t have a firm sense of identity.” Read: She wants yours. The ego stroking might feel like flattery at first, but it’s dangerous, says Banks.

Defuse or detonate? Get away. “When someone is imitating you in multiple realms of your life, that behavior is pathological,” says Squyres. Or you’re being used. In either case, you need to look at why you were so quick to let her in. “Some people naturally exploit others,” says Squyres, who recommends keeping your eyes wide open. It’s smart to be as wary of a new girlfriend as you would be of a new guy in your life.

RELATED: What 8 Women Learned From Breaking Up With Their BFFs

“Megan and I were always BFF’s until she met a new group of friends through CrossFit. Now all she does is hang with that crew, and when I do see her, she’s talking about them. I feel like we’re growing apart. I don’t mean to sound possessive, but I want my friend back! And I never want to hear about CrossFit again.”

What went wrong: It may feel as if you’re growing apart, but ask this: Are you legitimately getting the blow-off? It can seem like a personal insult when you and your best friend no longer share all the same interests. This scenario is particularly loaded because your buddy is bettering herself. (Be honest: Does that bring up doubts about your own choice of extracurricular activities?) “One thing’s for sure: It’s unreasonable to expect people not to evolve,” says Squyres.

Defuse or detonate? Have you actually told her how you feel? “I miss you” is handy, says Bonior, because it doesn’t place blame—and it’s true. Clearly, burpees are a part of her life now, and that’s not your thing. Make plans around activities you’re both excited about. If your friend is still MIA after a heart-to-heart, you might need to let her go. Whatever happens, use this as an opportunity to focus on your own personal growth, says Squyres.

RELATED: 5 Ways You’re Being a Bad Friend Without Knowing It

For more ways to deal with issues with your BFF’s, check out the July/August issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.

Jen Doll Jen Doll is a freelance journalist and the author of the memoir Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest.

Reboot Your Life: How to repair a broken friendship

Posted October 11, 2016 13:06:19

The end of a friendship, whether by choice or as the result of a quarrel, can be an emotional and often painful experience.

There may be feelings of guilt, regret, loss or anger which can last from days to years.

Not every relationship can be repaired.

But if a broken friendship remains a burden and is mentally weighing you down, then reaching out and making contact might provide some respite.

Overcoming inner fear

Elisabeth Shaw, a psychologist and the clinical director at Relationships Australia NSW, advised that the first step in reconnecting with someone was to “assess your motivations”.

“Think about: What am I doing it for? What do I want to get out of it?” she said.

“You need to have goals that come from a good place and are achievable and are respectful that someone might not be coming from the same place you are.”

Many people find it nerve-wracking to make contact with a former friend, particularly if the reason is to seek forgiveness.

Ms Shaw said it was important to acknowledge the outcome of reaching out could not be guaranteed, particularly if the person did not welcome the call.

“You need to feel better that you’ve acted in good faith because you can’t control what the other person will do,” she said.

Making contact

Before the internet, trying to find a lost contact might have required a private investigator.

Now, reconnecting with someone has been made easier with social media, although Ms Shaw warned it was only the first step towards repairing a relationship.

“Eventually being brave is about looking someone in the eye and talking things through,” she said.

“What we have to be careful with social media is to not use it as a barrier, it’s not about liking everything on Facebook.

“Social media is just a way to connect with people and to find out if it’s possible to arrange a talk and then take it offline.”

Hornsby resident Bec told 702 ABC Sydney about her struggles trying to repair her relationship with her brother.

“At a wedding three years ago an altercation happened between my brother and a child of his and one of my children, and unfortunately now we haven’t spoken in three years.

“I’ve tried to reconnect in so many ways but it’s just not working — and unless we apologise for this altercation, they’ll never speak to me again.”

Ms Shaw said apologising did not have to mean taking 100 per cent responsibility for the breakdown but that it was about using words to indicate how much you value the relationship.

She suggested that if you were reaching out to someone via email or an online message, avoid making accusations and demands and focus on “I” statements.

“Make it about yourself,” Ms Shaw said.

“It’s hard to be angry with someone who has made a good gesture.

“Say: ‘I have been feeling regretful about how things turned out between us. I continue to miss our friendship and I want things to be better between us’.”

The aftermath

But not every relationship can be repaired, Ms Shaw warned.

“Sometimes we learn more about other people through conflict than through the good times.

“If someone is still very upset or very angry, I think it’s good to take a step back and think, ‘did I say everything I wanted to say in a good and calm way’, and take that as a success.”

Talking to other friends who are likeminded or sensitive to your situation or speaking to a professional counsellor may also help.

This week for #RebootYourLife, 702 ABC Sydney’s Robbie Buck is challenging you to be brave and reconnect with someone. Make a #BeBravePledge and email your story to [email protected]

Topics: relationships, health, mental-health, lifestyle-and-leisure, family-and-children, family, sydney-2000

Friendships that unravel as adults can be complicated to mend. Friendship can waver from distance, lack of effort, or an act that is hurtful. Adults hold grudges and stay bitter over being hurt –meaning the piece that holds back forgiveness can be stubbornness.

We asked experts to share their wisdom and advice for building friendships back up.

Manage the expectations of the friend

Adult friendships can unravel because of our expectations of the other person. “We act out of a sense of what we need, not what another person necessarily needs from us,” says Blythe Daniel, co-author of the book, Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters. “Expectations can be killers of relationships.”

Daniel says to find common ground and put your relationship ahead of your differences. Be proactive in describing why you feel slighted in your friendship and how your friend can step up to meet your needs. Once this is articulated, they should understand your perspective; but the key here is that they have to understand your position. They have to get it, that’s how the shift will happen. “Resist trying to change and control the other,” adds Daniel.

Give a heartfelt apology

The best approach to mending a friendship is give a genuine apology to clean up your side of the street, says Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D., an expert in clinical psychology. “When you give an apology you must acknowledge what you did wrong, you can give the reasons why you did what you did to help the other person understand where you are coming from,” explains Dr. Campbell. From here you need to say how you will change your behavior or thought patterns going forward. “This brings peace, understanding, and clarity going forward; this high level of love shows respect and humility,” she adds. It is also important to let your friend know exactly what hurt you and what you would need to see moving forward in terms of understanding and/or flexibility. “From this place you can have a new start and a deeper potential for the friendship,” Dr. Campbell continues.

Recognize the patterns of the friendship

When it comes to mending an adult friendship, it’s important to notice the patterns or pattern that caused the disruption or break in the relationship, says Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. “Through this awareness and understanding, healing steps can then be made,” Dr. Manly says. “This step is essential in order to understand how to avoid any negative patterns and missteps that harm the relationship.” If the relationship has historically been one-sided, speak openly to your friend and tell her about how you’d like the friendship to evolve. “Reach out to your friend with an open heart and mind,” adds. Dr. Manly.

Reach out to reconnect

Send your friend a text or call and tell her you miss her friendship and try and take the steps to reconnect. “If the friend is not yet willing, do not be pushy or disrespectful,” suggests Dr. Manly. “Simply respond with, ‘I understand. Would you be open to me calling you in a month to check in?’” If the friend is still resistant, it’s often best to respect the boundaries and respect the friend’s needs. “If the friend declines connection at this stage, a later follow-up — perhaps several months down the line — may be appropriate depending on the friend’s response,” she continues. “First and foremost, it’s key that boundaries be respected.”

In situations where the friend agrees to reconnect, it’s essential that the past not be reviewed in a blaming, negative manner. Dr. Manly says not to dwell on past mistakes so the relationship can move forward with new, positive patterns.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stock image, St. George News

Question

I have a friend who hurt me a year ago and we’ve been superficial with each other since then. I don’t know how to make things the way they used to be. We still talk at times and I can tell that she feels bad for what she did (she works hard to be a better friend now).

She lied about me to some friends and it really hurt. I’m just not sure if I’m being too unforgiving, or if things can’t ever be the same again and I need to accept that and let things be the way they are.

Answer

I think you’ve got a really hopeful situation with your friendship concerns. Even though there was an injury to the trust in the relationship, you’ve got a friend who appears to want to stay friends and make things right. It doesn’t sound either of you know what to do, so let me make some suggestions.

Martin Buber famously wrote:

We are the promise-making, promise-keeping, promise-breaking, promise-renewing creatures.

As painful as this reality is, this is the nature of people and promises. This doesn’t excuse any of us to deliberately break promises, but it does describe the struggle we have in caring for our relationships.

I have observed that when someone is sincerely making efforts to repair their relationship injuries, it will soften the injured person and open up a chance to rebuild the connection. I believe this is what’s happening with your friend’s efforts.

I encourage you to approach her and acknowledge the efforts she’s making to go out of her way to be a better friend to you. Don’t minimize the hurt of the offense and act like it’s no big deal. Let her know that even though you have been hurt, you want to have a good relationship with her.

Sometimes it can be helpful to identify where you can’t go forward in the relationship. For example, you might let her know that you don’t feel comfortable confiding things in her until you can know that she will protect your privacy.

You can let her know that you want to continue spending time with her in other interactions, but you are going to be guarded for a while. You will be able to tell if she can respect your mistrust and caution. A good friend will make room for you to heal and will show a good faith effort to reassure you that she values you and your friendship.

Repairing relationships is not an all-or-nothing endeavor. We inch our way forward in the areas that feel safe until we have more sure footing to take bigger risks. Good friends will respect that process and receive our efforts to reconnect.

You’ve got a good friend who made a mistake, but is working to grow from it. Your honest feedback will give her specific ways to grow and protect your fragile friendship. I’m certain you will both benefit going through this experience.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

Geoff Steurer is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity” and is the founding director of LifeSTAR of St. George, a three phase treatment program for individuals and couples healing from the effects of pornography and sexual addiction. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. He also specializes in working with individuals and couples dealing with any form of sexual betrayal. He has been married to his wife, Jody, since 1996 and they are the parents of four children. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. The opinions stated in this article are Steurer’s own and may not be representative of St. George News.

How to Rebuild Trust in a Friendship

Trust is difficult to gain from someone in general—but rebuilding it can seem impossible.

Depending on what you did to betray someone’s trust—and who you did it to—getting back to where you once were with that person will likely take a lot of time and effort.

But not all hope is lost. If you truly value your relationship with this person, as well as your reputation, keep reading for tips on how to rebuild trust in a friendship.

1. Once You Apologize, Give Your Friend Space

When we do something wrong or fight with someone, and we know we’re in the wrong, we immediately jump at the chance to explain ourselves and hopefully smooth things over. After all, no one wants negativity and drama looming over them.

While you may immediately be ready accept your faults and bury the hatchet, the person you hurt will likely harbor a ton of resentment towards you—and while they may accept or listen to your initial apology, they need some space to process the incident and think about how they want to proceed in the long run.

Taking time apart is not only healthy for any friendship, but some distance will give you both a chance to grow and isolate yourself from what went down. After cooling off a bit, you can both then approach the whole thing from a clearer state of mind and with less animosity. Use the time apart to really think about what you did and why you did it. Then, when the timing feels right, you can reach out to your friend again, or see if you two are drawn to each other organically (which is often times the case).

(Gossip Girl via The CW)

2. Be Honest About What Led to Your Mistake

There’s absolutely no excuse for betraying someone’s trust, but everything has a cause and effect. Chances are, if you hurt someone you’re actually friends with, there was some underlying motive that led to your decision.

Whether you harbored resentment for something they did to you a long time ago, or you’re plain and simple jealous or insecure around them, you didn’t just decide out of nowhere that you were going to hurt them. Once you acknowledge (to yourself and to your friend) what the underlying issue is, you can hopefully open up and talk through why you’re feeling a certain way. By letting your vulnerable side show, you’re proving that you value the relationship enough to let your guard down and show that you trust them.

If you and your pal are able to talk through what’s been bothering you, you should then feel confident enough in the friendship to not let trust be an issue moving forward. And express that to them, too.

3. Approach Your Friend With Empathy

Regardless of the reason behind your negative behavior, the bottom line is you hurt someone you care about. Whether you feel like your actions were somehow justified or not, you need to see things from their point of view. How would you feel if they did to you what you did to them?

When you eventually get to chat with your pal, don’t come into the conversation from a defensive place. As much anger as they may express during your chat, it’s important that you come from a place of warmth. Tell them you know they’re in a lot of pain right now and that they have every right to be. Perhaps bring up a time when your own trust was betrayed by someone, and reflect on how that made you feel. Explain how upset you are with your behavior and talk about what you learned from your mistake.

(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)

4. Avoid All Gossip

While you may have learned a big ol’ lesson by what recently went down between you and a specific friend, diving into gossip of any kind right now is only going to associate you with that behavior. Whether it’s about a girl who everyone in your group can’t stand, or it’s secretly bad-mouthing a pal for getting back with their ex, leave the gossip to the other folks, and keep everyone’s business out of your mouth. While you can’t necessarily remove yourself from every situation, when indeed you are able, step away, as the less association to negativity, the better!

5. Don’t Go Into Great Detail With Others About You and Your Friend’s Issue(s)

Of course your BFF, S.O. and family are going to know about what really went down between you and your friend—it’s not like you’re only going to tell your diary! But, as far as everyone else is concerned, you two are just busy, but still friends of course. Whatever your friend chooses to tell people is her own business, but as for you, keep things simple.

The less you tell people, the less they have to say you told them. The last thing you need is your words exaggerated or twisted—and we know the game of telephone all too well. Your friend is likely expecting to hear back that you’ve been telling everyone what went down, so they’ll be pleasantly surprised when your lips are sealed.

(Riverdale via The CW)

6. Let Time Work Its Magic

Even if the initial time has passed between the incident and your friend speaking to you again, there’s likely a lot more time that, unfortunately, must go by before they can even consider trusting you again.

However long it may take, this is when you just focus on being a solid friend—whatever that entails. You don’t want to come off desperate or overeager, and you certainly do not want to beg, but just be there for your pal if they need anything simple like a ride home from school, to something a bit more committed like taking over a babysitting shift for them over the weekend so they can go on a date. Continue opening up to them about your own personal stuff when it’s appropriate, and show them that you value a trusting relationship.

It’s anyone’s guess if trust can ever be fully rebuilt, but if you stay on a good path and don’t mess up again, you can only move forward.

7. Don’t Bring Up the Incident (Other Than During Your Initial Apology)

Everyone’s different, so your friend may be someone who constantly throws your faults in your face—or your pal could very well be someone who finds it too painful to bring up the past. Either way, constantly think about moving forward, not backward. Even during times when it’s just the two of you and you seem to be bonding, do not bring up the incident. Just let your current actions do the talking. Bringing up the past will only reopen a wound, and if they don’t bring it up, they definitely don’t want to talk about it. After enough time goes by, they’ll slowly start to forget its impact and they’ll begin to associate you with fresh (positive) feelings again.

Of course, if they bring it up, give them a comfortable space to express how they feel, but don’t overdo it with your reaction. Just hear them out and tell them you understand. Bottom line: You want to focus on moving forward, so whatever you can do to keep pushing ahead, plow on through and don’t look back.

Fighting with a close friend is really hard, but look on the bright side by reading THIS list of ways you’ll benefit from spending time apart from your BFF!

Should I Fix A Broken Friendship? 7 Signs Your Friend Breakup Was For The Better

Three years ago, I went through one of the hardest “breakups” of my life: One of my best friends decided we part ways. I spent the following three years brainstorming ways to get her back — until it occurred to me that maybe, this friend breakup was for the better.

I’d always blamed myself for the falling out. She was, after all, the one who got mad at me. But when I told other people about it, they usually said, “It sounds like you didn’t do anything wrong” or “she doesn’t sound like the greatest friend anyway.” I’d been so wrapped up in trying to fix my own supposed shortcomings, I hadn’t seen her’s.

I’m not the only one who has pined to get a friend back only to realize that maybe, they didn’t want her back after all. “I have personally experienced losing a friend and contemplated reconciling, but what stops me is remembering how I felt around them,” Katelyn, 24, tells Bustle. “I constantly felt like they didn’t care (never asking about my life or what was going on), and were constantly speaking ill of others. It felt like I was stuck in a bubble and if I ever tried to leave, they would ‘punish’ me by not reaching out. It was toxic and not worth going back to, no matter how many good times we had.”

“I ‘broke up’ with a friend of 10 years, and although there are times when I miss her and become nostalgic about good times we had together, her frequent self-aggrandizing social media posts convince me that I should not,” Victoria, 62, tells Bustle. “I tend to ‘hang in there’ for too long, which sometimes has a negative impact on me, so I am at peace with my decision NEVER to speak with her again.”

Here are some signs that you should also stop plotting to get your friend back and start being glad a toxic friendship is out of your life.

We don’t put up with dates who ghost us or make us jump through hoops just to get a damn text message (or at least we know we shouldn’t). So, why do we put up with friends who do this?

Mood Board/

1. Your Friend Was Distant

If your friend always put you on the backburner, parting ways will probably be good for your self-esteem in the long run. “If your friend didn’t truly show up for you the way you needed them to, didn’t treat you and your friendship in the highest regard, and/or violated your trust in a major way, perhaps they weren’t a true friend to begin with,” grief coach Rachel Ricketts tells Bustle.

2. You Felt Like It Was All Your Fault

A friend who makes you feel like everything’s all your fault, including the breakup, could be gaslighting you. “Gaslighting is a subtle form of manipulation and abuse that is really hard to name or pinpoint, but is often a factor where friendships have fallen apart without any ‘good’ reason,” says Ricketts. “If you were being gaslighted, it means that your friend didn’t take ownership for his/her behavior and would spin any situation so as to make you the enemy or culprit. You would leave your interactions with this person feeling down, defeated, unworthy, invalidated and/or stupid.” And who needs more of that?

3. You Don’t Miss Them

You might think you miss your ex-friend when what you really miss is having a best friend or enjoying certain experiences with them, says Ricketts. But you may not actually miss this person themselves, and that’s OK.

4. You Disagree With Why They Left You

It’s easy to be hard on yourself when someone else decides you’re not worth being friends with. But do you think you were a bad friend? Or are they the ones holding you to unreasonable expectations?

“If the friend ditched you because you turned them down for something you did not want to do or money you did not want to lend, this person is using emotional manipulation to try to get you to do something you do not feel comfortable with,” licensed social worker Kryss Shane tells Bustle. “If there was a huge fight that left you feeling embarrassed because the person made angry comments about your beliefs, your appearance, or your choices, this person chose to be cruel when angry rather than to respond out of love for their friend and is probably someone you do not need in your life.”

5. You Didn’t Look Forward To Seeing Them

If you started to dread seeing your friend toward the end, you probably knew deep down that the friendship wasn’t for the best. “That was your body telling you that this person is someone not right or healthy for you to be around,” says Shane.

6. You’re Relieved You Don’t Have To Deal With Them

The fact that you don’t have to deal with your former friend anymore may seem like just a silver lining, but it’s actually a very significant piece of information, relationship talk show host Susan McCord tells Bustle. Your friends shouldn’t ever feel like people you have to “deal” with. Focus on those who leave you energized, not drained.

7. They’ve Handled The Friend Breakup Badly

An ex-friend who recently gossiped about you, turned other friends against you, or otherwise lashed out in the wake of your breakup probably would continue causing problems if you became friends again, says McCord.

None of these things mean the friend breakup will be easy. But just because it’s hard or sad doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Give it some time, and you may be glad you made room for more positive people in your life.

Few things create stress, result in anxiety, and hinder life-satisfaction as much as broken relationships. In most situations, whenever we consider “broken relationships” we think in the context of dating or marriage. Yet broken friendships can have an equally negative impact on our emotional well-being.

Healthy relationships are vital to a meaningful life. When we fail to mend broken relationships, we do so at our own detriment. (See: 5 Ways to Ruin a Good Relationship)

Yet I see it on a regular basis.

  • People change churches and I find out it is over a disagreement with an old friend.
  • Former golf partners get different tee times all because of some grudge.
  • Siblings refuse to speak to one another because of a tension which they have chosen not to resolve.

While not every relationship can be mended, most can. Broken friendships are much easier to heal than romantic relationships, but healing requires courage, honesty, and a willingness to forgive and be forgiven.

Sadly, it is easier to run. Most people would rather let the relationship remain broken than take the small steps necessary to put the friendship back together. It’s easier in the short-term to let a friendship slip away, but it is far more rewarding in the long-term to do the work necessary to make the relationship right.

Here are the four steps needed to fix broken friendships:

1. Initiate.

The reason most relationships stay broken is that no one is willing to make the effort to initiate change. Whether out of fear of vulnerability or stubbornness and not wanting to be the first to show “weakness,” the average human response to broken relationships is one of apathy. A person might desire change but they are not willing to do anything about it. (See: The Most Common Mistake I Make)

One of the most dramatic ways a person can change their life is by consistently doing what other people refuse to do. If you have a friendship which is broken, you should initiate contact to mend it. Whether you are the guilty party or the innocent one, you should shoulder the burden of initation because taking a step toward another person is always worth the risk.

2. Put the disagreement in context.

Mending a broken friendship does not require that we minimize differences. Many relationships are broken because two people are not willing to admit differences of opinions. Expecting that friends have to agree on every issue is an effective way to limit the number of meaningful relationships in one’s life. I don’t agree with myself half the time, how could I ever expect my friends to always agree with me.

The key to fixing a relationship is making sure we put the issue in context. In most cases, the relationship is more important than being right or wrong about the issue. Whenever we value the relationship more than the issue, the relationship can be easily healed. (See: The Number One Rule of Disagreement)

3. Find a resolution.

While context is important, a common ground still must be found. Married couples are always surprised to hear that most disagreements in marriage can’t be solved. A workable solution can be found, but spouses will not be of the same mind on most issues. Because of differing backgrounds, mindsets, experiences, and opinions, differing opinions should be expected. The same is true in friendship.

A workable resolution means different things in different situations. On most occasions, simply understanding the other person’s point or perspective is enough to heal the friendship. Knowing why a person believes something or acted in a certain way brings clarity. In other scenarios the friends might agree to disagree. In a few cases, for the sake of the friendship, two people might agree to not bring up certain topics. The important aspect of finding a workable solution is that both parties are on board. They feel heard, understood, and agree in what is the best way to handle the issue.

4. Move forward.

The final step is to move forward. While it is often awkward at first, the friends must get back to doing and being whatever it was that created the friendship at first. If it is playing golf again, play golf. Maybe it means going to lunch. For others it means talking on the phone or texting one another. In most cases if the friends will just do whatever they do, the friendship will quickly heal. Recognize the awkwardness, but outlast it. (See: Accept the Temporary Nature of Friendships)

A broken relationship may not be your fault, but if it remains broken it likely is your responsibility. In most situations, you have the ability to mend a broken friendship. If you are willing to initiate the process, put things in context, find a resolution, and move forward, your relationships will be improve and so will your life.

How to fix friendships?

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