Actor Steven Weber once said, “It’s easy to break things. Much, much easier, it seems, than building them.” The same holds true for friendships. The process of getting to know someone, finding commonalities, and then going beneath the surface to discover who they really are takes time and effort.
A study has found that Americans have become more isolated, with the average person only having two “confidants,” people “with whom they can discuss really important matters.” This could mean that when you let the light go out of a beautiful friendship, you’re also often isolating yourself.
There could be many reasons for losing a friend or having the spark fade away from your bond. It could range from arguments to people moving away, or even changes in someone’s habits and priorities; however, whatever the cause or reason, a good friend is hard to find, and it’s always worth going the extra mile to try to hold on to them.
Here are some tips to mend that broken friendship of yours, as it’s never too late.
1. Get Some Perspective
When you’re in the heat of the moment, a small disagreement also can be blown out of proportion. However, with a little bit of time and space to calm down and reflect on the situation, you might just realize that the dispute was unnecessary or that your reaction might have been irrational at that moment. Thus you have to take a step back to move a few steps forward.
2. Take the First Step
Rebuilding a friendship requires a willingness to jettison your ego and the thought of being “right.” Whatever the circumstances were that led to you and your person’s friendship falling out, you have to commit yourself to bridge the gap.
You can start by letting the other person know that you care about them, so as to meet them halfway; this way, you’ve started the process of reconciliation.
3. Apologize and Truly Mean It
One of the most important things you can do to get the ball rolling is apologizing. If a conversation was the trigger for your friendship’s collapse, then own up to it. If you feel that you didn’t do anything wrong, you can still apologize for having let such an important part of your life lapse.
Taking the time to say you’re sorry will make the other person feel valued. You’re much more likely to have a constructive conversation and clear any hostility or ill feeling straightaway. Just as admitting that you were wrong can be difficult, so can apologizing. While your ego might take a hit, the better part is that you might get your friend back, and that’s truly worth it.
4. Surprise Them With Kindness
While asking your old friend out for coffee or a meal is a great gesture, you might want to try something more creative and intuitive. Start by thinking about what that friendship meant and still means to you. This might conjure up a special memory for you. For example, maybe you first cemented your friendship with a special date or over a special interest.
Why not buy tickets to a concert of a band you both love and have listened to on road trips? Or put together a photo album of some of the greatest moments of your friendship? Or maybe bake them a batch of their favorite cookies? Whatever it is, this concrete gesture of friendship will mean just as much as many words, and they might end up cherishing it.
5. Hit the Road
Once you’ve got back in touch with your friend, why not propose a trip together? Having an uninterrupted time together, away from the hustle-bustle of life, could be just the thing you need to reconnect. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. The act of leaving things behind, both physically and emotionally, will give you a chance to start on a fresh page.
6. Remember the Good Old Times
While learning to overlook the past hurts, it is vital to move on. However, reminiscing the best times together and what made that friendship of yours so special can help serve as a catalyst to rekindle that bond. If you look back, you’ll probably find years of great conversations and exciting experiences, and this will mean a lot more than whatever it was that actually drove you apart.
7. Make New Memories
Now that you have made the effort to untie all knots in the bond, the next step is to be fully in the present. Just enjoy your time with your special friend, and let go of any expectations. The goal is not to recreate the past but rather to script a new chapter and move on in the path ahead.
8. Make Space for Change
It’s possible that your friendship dissolved because of changes on one or both sides. Perhaps the friendship began when you were both in college or in your 20s; thus, you couldn’t survive the transition to worklife and having a family. A study shows that most people reach a social peak around 25, with declining numbers afterward.
If you and your friend have both evolved, by extension, your friendship needs to do so as well. Rather than holding on to the past, be open to accepting the new changes that are right before you.
9. Revisit Your Favorite Spots
Making a point of going back to places that brought you both joy is a great way of restarting your friendship. Some of these might have changed, but that’s acceptable. Regardless, you’ll have an enjoyable moment of re-establishing contact by being in that special cafe, going shopping, or taking a bike ride somewhere that has special significance for you.
10. Never Let Them Go
Now that you know how easy it is for a small conflict or action to drive you apart, make a goal of being faithful, to them and to the friendship. When disagreements or difficulties arise in the future—and they always will—be patient and forgiving. No one ever looked back at their life and said they had had too many friends.
Eventually, remember that friendship means forgiving, not forgetting.