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Rules may be made to be broken, but not when it comes to friendships. The rules of friendship, if broken, can destroy trust and tear relationships apart. If you want to restore your friendship, you have to mend what was broken, and that isn't always easy -- but with time, sacrifice and effort, it is usually possible.
An Amicable Separation
To break something means to cause it to separate, and most broken friendships suffer from just that: A forced separation. This can happen for many reasons -- not all of which are bad. In fact, sometimes the break occurs for a good reason: A job promotion, a new romantic relationship or a new life direction such as going away to college or taking a year off to travel around the world. In these cases, the friends probably parted on good terms, and restoring the relationship simply means reaching out to re-establish contact. In today's electronic age, this can usually be done quite easily through social media sites, email or texting. When you manage to contact your friend, ask her if she would like to renew the friendship, whether in person if circumstances permit, or as long-distance friends who communicate via technology.
A Minor Misunderstanding
Restoring a friendship that was broken because of a minor misunderstanding can be as easy as clearing the air. Be frank with your friend. Tell him it was a misunderstanding -- do it as soon as possible -- and that you want to move past it. Suggest getting together to do something casual that you used to do, such as meeting at the pub every Friday night. Then, take a step back and wait. Don't push it -- that might move him farther away. Instead, wait and see if he wants to restore the friendship as much as you do. If he does, and you've been honest in clearing the air, then you should hear from him soon.
A Broken Trust
If trust was broken, you have to either forgive your friend – or, if you are the one who broke the trust -- you have to ask for forgiveness and a second chance. Forgiving a friend who betrayed your trust may be difficult. In many cases, it depends on how severe the betrayal was. For example, if you caught your friend cheating with your husband, it might be nearly impossible to forgive her. But if you caught her in a minor lie -- maybe she said she was too busy to go out to lunch and then you saw her shopping with another friend later that day -- you might be able to forgive and forget.
If you can forgive, not only will it restore your friendship, it may also be good for your physical and mental health as well, according to Frederic Luskin, a psychologist at Standford University. In a Wall Street Journal article titled, "Delicate Art of Fixing a Broken Friendship," Luskin suggests forgiving, even if the forgiveness is not reciprocated. If you are the one who betrayed the trust, your friend might not forgive you -- no matter how sincere your apology or whether or not she was also at fault. It's difficult to restore a friendship where broken trust is an issue, because it's a very personal betrayal. You can't earn trust without someone willing to give it. It depends entirely on the friend's willingness to be vulnerable and take a chance on your friendship again.
A Matter of Time
Often, one of the most important parts of restoring a broken friendship is practicing patience. The mending of anything is not something that happens quickly, and that includes close relationships. What do you while you wait for the wound to heal is almost as important as the steps you take to heal it. Never criticize your friend while you are not communicating, and be careful to acknowledge your own part in the split. A little bit of self-reflection can go a long way toward healing the rift and avoiding broken friendships in the future. Finally, don't blame yourself if the friendship is not restored. Sometimes, a friendship needs to run its course for the good of both parties.
- Chris Knorr / Design Pics/Valueline/Getty Images