How to Mend a Friendship

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Friendships woes don’t end in high schools. We all mess up sometimes and end up hurting a friend’s feelings. But now that we are adults, we can forgive each other as long as we know the messing up was not intentional. Here’s how to make things right and move on.

When You Forgot her Birthday

The moment you realize the date got away from you, offer an apology instead of coming up with an excuse. Give her a belated birthday present or an offer to buy her a drink or lunch. How much your friend is hurt by your forgetfulness depends on her the importance she holds for birthdays. If she is super sensitive (birthday princess), you may have to work harder to get back in her good graces.

When You Don’t Like Her Husband

Leave her husband out of the friendship as much as you can; it is not fair to force her to divide her loyalties, especially if she knows he is not your favorite person. Remind her how important her friendship is to you and restrict your time together to girls only. There is no reason you have to detail to her what you don’t like about her husband.

When You Are (or want to be) Dating Her Ex

I am sure, there are friends who have navigated this successfully without causing hurt feelings. But generally, if you want to keep the friend, avoid the ex. This is particularly true if it is a recent breakup, but even long-ago exes can stir up a world of emotion. If you are already involved, be prepared for a painful adjustment period – or even the long-term loss of your friend. But if you are only in the contemplation stage, talk to her about it honestly. It is the only way you can hope to emerge with your friendship intact.

When You Weren’t There for Her at a Crucial Time

Don’t make excuses or offer justifications. That only trivializes her experience and makes it seem that your life is more important than hers. Instead, admit that you let her down, and that you realize how bad your absence made her feel. Ask humbly and sincerely if there is anything you can do to make it up to her. Then let it go; depending on how hurt she is and how much other support she had at the time. It may take time for the friendship to fully heal.

When You Were Late to Meet Her

You have to apologize, of course. And offer something to assuage her annoyance, such as picking up the lunch tab. If it is a recurring problem, you are giving her the message that your time is more valuable than hers. Chronic lateness can seriously damage a friendship. Acknowledge that it is you who has a punctuality problem; it is nothing she did. Together, come up with a solution, such as meeting someplace she doesn’t mind waiting (a bookstore rather than a street corner), or meeting at your home instead.

When You Didn’t Call her Back for months

Don’t keep putting off calling her- just do it. Keep it short and sweet and then launch right into catching each other up on news. Remember, too, that different friendships have a different place. If this is a friendship that normally allows time to elapse between calls, it may not be as big a deal as you imagine.

When You Didn’t Tell Her When Something She did Hurt You

If what your friend did was a one-time event that is not likely to happen again, weigh the cost versus the benefit of telling her how you felt. Only reveal the hurt if the benefit – a deeper level of trust and understanding in the friendship – outweighs the cost. But if what she did was so hurtful you are not sure you can spend time with her without it bugging you, talk to her. Keep it simple. Give her a chance to apologize and see if you can regain trust again.