Extend the olive branch to reconcile a broken friendship.

How to Reconcile a Broken Friendship

by Emma Wells

While the trauma of a romantic break-up is widely understood, few people recognize how the end of a friendship can be equally traumatic. Friends can hurt each other just as much as, and sometimes worse than, romantic partners. If you and your friend had a fight that made you stop seeing each other, it doesn’t have to be the end of your friendship forever. There’s still time to patch things up.

1. Forgiveness

Asking for and granting forgiveness may require you to put your ego aside, but it’s ultimately good for yourself, according to psychologist Fred Luskin, Ph.D. It lowers your risk of depression and your blood pressure, and of course, it can also help you get your friend back. Acknowledge the situation and your role in it, try to understand your friend’s perspective, and forgive her transgressions or betrayals, advises psychologist Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D. Then, prepare yourself to ask for forgiveness as well.

2. Five Core Concerns

Shapiro works with negotiators from opposing sides of an issue using 'five core concerns,' according to an article by writer Elizabeth Bernstein of the "Wall Street Journal." The first is appreciation, making sure that everyone feels understood. Next, autonomy, in which both of you can decide if, when and how you want to be friends again. Then, affiliation, in which you need to get together or start talking again to reboot your friendship. The fourth core concern is status, in which both of you had a part in the fight and need to recognize your contribution. The final core concern is your role, in which you each need to take on various roles at different times as listener or problem solver, for example.

3. Taking Ownership

It’s important to take ownership of your thoughts and feelings, says life coach Susan Day of ParentsConnect.com. Instead of blaming your friend for causing a host of problems, tell her about once specific instance that bothered you and share your feelings. Start sentences with “I felt," “I thought," and “I told myself” instead of putting her on the defense by using "you" statements. Then, tell her what you would prefer. For example, say something like, “Next time I would prefer that we talk about our issues together instead of assuming what each other thinks."

4. Allow Time

If you haven’t been friends for a while, it might take some time to heal the relationship until it gets back to normal. Write a letter to your friend asking for forgiveness and give her time to call you back, Bernstein says. If your friend does respond in a positive manner, work toward friendship slowly with phone calls, emails and hanging out a few times. It might feel awkward at first, but if you’re honest about forgiving each other, you should be able to move on with a healthy relationship.

About the Author

Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

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