How To Heal A Friendship
Jessica and Joyce were best friends in ninth grade. They did almost everything together. Then one day, after a misunderstanding, Joyce stopped talking to Jessica. For more than three months, Joyce refused to talk to Jessica or answer her notes. “During that time, I found out what an important friend she was,” Jessica says. “I couldn't even concentrate when I was studying. I just thought about how to mend our friendship.”
The next semester, Jessica tried again. This time, Joyce was willing to work it out. It took some time and effort, but the friendship was healed.
Most of us have suffered the pain of broken friendships. But the good news is that most friendships can be mended.
Oxford professor Michael Argyle recently finished a 15-year study that explored what makes people happy. What did he find? The key to happiness is having one close relationship and a network of friends. Other studies show that our social connections make us healthier and more resilient to stress. Maintaining long-lasting, healthy friendships is worth the effort!
If there's a broken friendship you'd like to mend, try the following advice.
Give your friend the benefit of the doubt.
It's easy to assume the worst. But if a friend has hurt you, he may not even realize he's done so.
Matt, an American doctoral student, remembers two friendships broken by hurtful words. Both relationships were later healed.
“It's probably true that if someone hurts you, ‘they should have known better, Matt says. “But the fact is we are all human and we mess things up. You need to give people the benefit of the doubt because you will need that, as well.”
Take the initiative to communicate with your friend.
If you've been hurt, your instinct is probably to pull away and protect yourself. But if you do this, the friendship will likely die.
“You need to reach out,” says 20-year-old Jamie, who has restored several broken friendships. “Friendships get broken when trust is lost. Both friends need to reach out and demonstrate they are trustworthy.”
Be the first to apologize.
Even if you were hurt, apologize for anything you did wrong. Give up your right to be proven right. Otherwise the conflict won't be forgotten, as it should be.
Walk through the conflict together.
Start by trying to see things from your friend's point of view. Talk about the problems openly but kindly.
At first, Jessica didn't understand why Joyce stopped talking to her. Then Joyce finally explained that Jessica's teasing bothered her. “I finally found out she was angry because I teased her in front of the boys in our class,” Jessica explained. Jessica meant nothing by her teasing and thought it shouldn't bother Joyce. But when she accepted that it was embarrassing to Joyce, she stopped. Then their friendship could heal.
Nicole and Michelle had been best friends since preschool. But in college, Michelle suddenly pulled away. “We didn't talk to each other for a while, then tried to reconcile, ”Nicole says, “But we're just polite acquaintances now.”
It's normal for friendships to change. Often two friends just drift apart. Problems come when one friend tries to hang on while the other friend lets go.
If your friend isn't willing to work things out, accept it and move on. But if you are able to reconcile, you'll have a friendship that's tried-and-true!