The word “friend” is not a word that is thrown around lightly. To have a friend means you have someone you count on and share a certain level of comfort/trust. Friendships evolve over many arenas: school, neighborhoods, jobs, other parents, etc.. the list of ways to meet people is endless, but the group honored to be considered a friend is a cherished few.
Benefits of Friendships in Adult Lives
Maintaining healthy friendships serve many benefits. They teach us interpersonal skills, they offer mental relief in someone to share thoughts with, and they improve a person’s sense of community. Having friends reminds us that we are not alone. And having friends provide outlets of people with like minded thinking that we may not otherwise get from our other areas of life (family, job, etc).
That is why when friendships are strained, or disappear, there is a sense of loss for that relationship. Sometimes time simply passes and friends enter different stages of life but other times there are situations where friends have a disagreement and rather than attempting to resolve it we simply walk away.
How did we get here?
The first question to really sit down and ask yourself is how you and your friend got to this place. Was there a wrong done by one (or both) friends? Was trust broken? If your friend wronged you, are you willing to own your role in getting to this point? It could be as simple as forgetting to call each other or as serious as intense betrayal. Whatever it is, be ready to recognize not only the root problem (in your opinion) but also your contribution to how the friendship is in this state
Is our friendship worth saving?
Once you are aware of what has happened to get you to this place, make sure you have allowed enough time to heal. This is not only for yourself but for the other person, as well. If one (or both) are too raw from the rift it may make things worse rather than better.
If you are certain you are ready, be willing to make the first move! It’s wonderful to process in your head how you miss your friend but you should also be willing to reach out – a phone call, an in person meeting, a text message – however gets the first step going. But be willing to make steps 2, 3, 4 or even 10! Keep in mind that when feelings are hurt we tend to duck and hide rather than embrace a problem. Be willing to show your friend you value them and, more importantly, let them see your willingness to do 90% of the work as you attempt to repair the friendship.
Keep in mind that your friend may not be willing and that is their right. Respecting this is the case is also important. We may not like the result but if we love our friend we will want only what’s best for them
Get Outside Advice
Give yourself permission to talk to someone who is not directly connected to the broken friendship. An outside perspective can oftentimes offer ways of thinking that you may not have seen since you are so close to it. Allow this outsider to give different ways of looking at it and be ready to hear what they have to say. Other friends, family, or even a therapist can offer advice when things seem muddled.
Regardless of the outcome from your efforts you will find that you will be able to take invaluable lessons from the experience. From a better understanding to friendships, to how to handle conflict, to pushing through something that would be easy to hide from…. One thing is certain, you will be a better person for trying.
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