Maintaining friendships is hard to do without drama, fights, or struggles. Finding time to hang out and catch up on life gets harder the older you get so cherish any moments you have one on one with your friends. If a friendship ended and it was your decision, but you now want to rekindle the friendship for various reasons, I’ve come up with some ways to attempt to rebuild it.
Many factors matter with this process, such as the reason for ending the friendship, how long it has been since you two have talked, where you are physically in relation to each other, did either of you talk about the friendship ending or did it just fade out, and many other factors but I think those are some of the bigger things to consider if you decide you want to rebuild a broken friendship.
Write A Letter
Even if you are a fan of confrontation or dealing with issues in person, I think writing a letter is best if you want to take their feelings and emotions into consideration. You decided to break off the friendship, obviously the reason why you chose to break it off will determine how they feel about you reaching out. If they were toxic and you saw they needed to mature a bit before you could continue hanging out with them, you don’t have to write a letter and can meet in person. If you broke it off because of a fight and you didn’t know how to express your feelings in a mature way so decided ending the friendship was the way to go, then a letter would probably be better because they most likely felt hurt about it ending that way. I am aware other factors matter such as the reason for the fight, did they reach out to you afterwards, and you know your situation best so you can determine where to go from there.
But seriously, a letter is a great way to reach out and say, “Hey, I’m sorry things ended the way they did. Here’s what I did wrong or where I felt upset. Here’s why I ended the friendship. Hope all is well.” and wrap it up. You can offer to meet up in person in the letter, but I suggest not throwing that in there to allow them time to process everything you wrote in the letter. Maybe it’s been a few years since you last spoke, and you’re not sure where they are in life. Do they even have time to meet up with you? Are they emotionally available to deal with rekindling a broken friendship right now? Just putting your thoughts and feelings out there is a great step and giving them time to process it at their own pace shows consideration for their feelings. I also love writing a letter for this because it gives you time to process your thoughts and emotions and put it on paper. If you meet in person to talk about it, you probably gave a lot of thought into what you’ll say, but you might forget some things or it might be delivered messily. Do what you think they would feel most comfortable with and also what you feel good doing.
Ask Them Out For Coffee
Ask them to get coffee in the middle of the day with you, and let them know in advance what you want to talk about. Maybe give them a week or two to think about it, let them know they can take all the time they want before agreeing to see you. You want to put as little pressure on them as possible, depending on the reason why the friendship ended. In a situation like this, I feel like you have to be very considerate of their feelings because you made the decision to end the friendship. Constantly put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone who ended a friendship with you reached out to you. It’s amazing and wonderful you want to provide closure or fix the friendship, but always remind yourself it may not turn out the way you want it to.
Reflect On Reasons It Ended
If you decide to write a letter or meet up with them in person, this is going to happen naturally. You’re going to think about why it ended, and that is so important. If you haven’t reached out to them at all, I think spending a solid hour or two thinking about why it ended, what led up to that, how you felt after that, why you’re deciding to reach out now instead of leaving it alone, what you hope to accomplish by reaching out, and expect nothing from reaching out. Your friend may still feel very hurt and they aren’t obligated to be friends with you again. Closure is good though and letting them know why is healthy for both parties.
I felt like this went without mentioning, but sometimes people forget to do the simplest things when lots of emotions and heartbreak is involved. There is actually a right way to apologize though, and I learned this in one of my linguistics classes. First you need to express sorrow and say you’re sorry and mean it. Then you need to own guilt and say why you were wrong. In addition to that, you need to specify where you were wrong, “I did X.” Then after that say the impact it had on them, “I hurt you and I am so sorry for doing X.” Do not include any ifs. Don’t blame them or defend yourself. No passive voice, period. For example, “Sorry if you were offended.” And wrap it up by making amends and asking what can I do. Don’t expect anything in return from them, because they don’t owe you anything. Have an optimistic outlook, but thoughtfully and clearly apologize to them.
Do Not Blame Anyone
This is pretty straightforward, but don’t blame them, don’t blame yourself, don’t blame any outside factors. Own up to the decision you made to end the friendship and see where things go from there. Blaming someone or something else shows immaturity and the ability to own up to your decisions. You’re putting the blame on something to divert the impact of ending the friendship which is a pretty lame thing to do.
Consider Their Feelings
Similar to the point before, it’s pretty straightforward. Empathy is going to be your best friend in this situation and if you struggle with empathy, just constantly put yourself in their shoes. Maybe you have been in their position before which is why you decided to reach out and rebuild the friendship, but with every thought you have on the situation and every word you want to speak, think about how they would feel before putting it out in the world.