What to Say to Mend a Friendship
When you have been fighting with a friend, knowing what to say to mend a friendship can be difficult. If it's not clear where things went wrong, ask your friend to talk things over. If you've realized you made a mistake or hurt your friend, a clear and simple apology is best. "I'm so sorry I hurt you. I really want to mend our friendship. Will you forgive me? Is there something I can do to make things right or do better in the future?"
If you have been hurt by your friend, let them know. It is a difficult conversation to have, but honesty is one of the things that repairs and strengthens friendships. It may take some time to practice forgiveness and rebuild trust. But when you are both willing to work on your friendship, it will get stronger with time. It's also helpful to remind yourself, and each other, what you are grateful for about one another, and about the unique friendship you have. Focusing on the positives is one way to get over the bumps in the road. If you or your friend need time or space, it doesn't mean your friendship is doomed. You can use that time to get support from a counselor, mentor, or someone else you trust to give you advice about friendships.
Is It Worth Telling a Friend They Hurt You?
If you’ve been hurt by a friend, the first thing to do is take a big breath. And another. And another. When someone you love and respect hurts your feelings, it hits differently than when a stranger or acquaintance does. They know you and love you, so how could they have done or said something that hurt you? You might question whether or not they actually love you after all, or even like you! You might question the friendship. That’s why the big breaths are important—don’t make any rash decisions here.
Once you feel a little more calm, it’s time to reflect:
- Why did their words or actions hurt?
- Do you think the hurt was intentional?
- Do you think the hurt was avoidable?
- How would you have preferred your friend to behave?
- Had your expectations been communicated to this friend previously?
- Have your friend’s actions demonstrated love and respect for you in the past?
- Is this a friendship you’d like to keep?
- Will this hurt fester and create resentment if you don’t address it?
- What do you expect from confronting your friend about this?
- How will your relationship change if your friend isn’t sorry?
When you have reflected on what happened, you need to decide whether or not to confront your friend about hurting your feelings. Sometimes, it’s okay to give a good friend the benefit of the doubt—perhaps the thing they said or did was a total accident, or there’s no way they could have known it would hurt you. In this case, it may be okay for you to let it go without saying something.
Other times, hurt really does need to be addressed before your relationship can continue. Maybe trust has been broken, or you feel you need an apology to re-establish respect. Approach them with the respect you’d want someone to approach you with, explain how their behavior impacted you, and ask them not to repeat that behavior in the future. Hopefully, your friend will respond with love and understanding.
5 Sure Tips to Mend a Friendship
One of life's greatest gifts is having a best friend. If you have one, you are truly blessed. But you no doubt also know how painful it can be when your best friend is mad at you. Many a friend has spent sleepless nights due to a broken relationship with a best friend. Sometimes it's difficult to tell exactly what went wrong - if it's something hurtful you did without realizing it, or if it's just a misunderstanding. Maybe someone told a lie about you to try and drive a wedge between the two of you.
So, what can you do when your best friend is mad at you?
1. Talk It Out with Your Best Friend
When your best friend is mad at you, the first and most important thing you can do is talk about it. Find a place where it's quiet and tell your friend how important it is to you that the two of you resolve what's wrong between you. Ask what he or she is feeling, and give her the chance to truly express everything, whatever she wants. At this point, it's your job to listen. Really listen and don't break in with your point of view. The more you can feel what your friend is feeling, the better chance you'll have of fixing your conflict. Jennifer agreed: The only way to fix what went wrong is by letting your friend say everything that makes them mad. Try to understand why they feel that way. All the effort is worth it.
2. Don't Get Defensive
The worst thing you can do is get defensive when resolving a conflict with your best friend. Don't quickly react to what your friend is saying. When you hear your friend tell you what he or she thinks you did wrong, it's natural to immediately feel like you want to defend yourself. Resist that feeling. Remember, there will be time for you to express how you feel as well. Don't forget this is your time to listen. This is not a sign of agreeing; it is just a sign of listening!
3. Ask What You Can Do
It may take a while for your friend to express everything he or she feels. Some people have a much more difficult time talking about their emotions than others. As your friend tells you what they're feeling, make sure they are completely finished before you start to talk. I suggest you start by repeating back to your friend what you heard him or her say. For instance, "Am I right you're angry that I was unkind to you? Is that right?" This gives you both the opportunity to make sure each of you heard what the other said.
The next thing you might want to ask is "What can I do to help mend the relationship?" Many times, your friend will have an idea of what they'd like you to do. At this point, you can decide if you're willing to do what he or she thinks would help to resolve the situation. Keep in mind, that your hurt friend may have a totally unrealistic solution to the problem. Don't make promises you can't keep. For example, if she says, "I never want you to talk to my boyfriend again." Don't commit to that, for it is totally unrealistic and unfair.
David said, Sometimes your friend has completely unrealistic expectations. You can either decide to find a middle ground or walk away. Most people don't know when their expectations are unrealistic. You might find it helpful to say, "I don't think I can do what you're asking, but I could do this." Finding an agreeable middle ground is a great way to make peace with an angry friend.
Be patient, and keep trying to be loving to your friend, even if he or she doesn't want to respond.
4. Be Willing To Admit You're Wrong
If it becomes clear you have done something truly wrong, you need to take responsibility for your actions. It's easy to think that just saying I'm sorry is enough. But those words can seem very shallow if you don't mean them, or if you don't know why you're sorry. Are you sorry because you got caught? Or are you sorry because you can see how you hurt your friend? If you are truly sorry about something you did that hurt your friend, you need to apologize, and then prove you will attempt to never do it again. Clearly ask your friend to forgive you. Make sure you hear the words, I will forgive you before you assume all is well with your friend.
However, your friend may be slow to trust you again, even after you have apologized. He/she will need to see trustworthy behavior from you over a period of time this will prove to her you really are sorry.
5. Give It Time
If your friend doesn't want to talk about what is making him or her so mad, you may have to just give it time. Sometimes the only way to resolve a problem is by letting time pass. Be patient, and keep trying to be a good friend, even if he or she doesn't want to respond. A blogger, Pumpkin, said she and her best friend have been friends for nearly 12 1/2 years. We have had our ups and downs, but we're still friends. Even when she tried to pull away and we didn't talk much, I made a choice to keep on calling her and trying to help find the friendship we once had.
Sometimes one friend has to make the effort to be there for the friend even when you're not sure they really care if you're friends or not. It's impossible to know exactly why some people hold on to anger and resentment longer than what might seem reasonable.
Sometimes all you can do is try your best to seek a resolution. You can't make anybody else do what they don't want to do. You might want to read this blog I wrote on forgiveness for help learning how to forgive your friend.
Try Your Best
We were created to live in a community with other people. When God designed us he made us social and relational beings with the desire to love and be loved. God created us in His very own image, so we have some of the same character traits as God. And God is relational. In fact, He wants a relationship with YOU!
God also knows how important it is to have good friends. The Bible talks about the benefits of having others in your life: It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself, you’re unprotected. With a friend, you can face the worst. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 MSG)
However, it's important to recognize that sometimes we can only do so much to repair a damaged relationship. In the end, your friend is going to need to want it as well. God knew this and so he wisely advises us just to do our best to find peace. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Sometimes friendships grow stronger through difficult times. So don't give up on your friend just because you are having difficulties, but know when it might be time to move on.
Every relationship will hit a speed bump at one time or another. Because your best friend knows you so well, it's easier for that person to really hurt you. Show your friend you are willing to work through the difficult times of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Work toward peace and ask God to help.
If you think your friend might be struggling with something beyond just your relationship, check out our eBook library for eBooks on all types of issues and every eBook has a section on how to help a friend who is struggling with that issue.
A lot of times, you do have a choice about whom you are close friends with, so choose them wisely. For more, read Choose Friends Wisely.