When a friendship breaks down it can be an ugly and painful process. The blame game comes to the fore, there are recriminations and things are said that are mean and hurtful. Whatever level of trust that there was between you is destroyed in the blink of an eye and actions are undertaken by all parties involved that can cause irreparable damage.
Time will of course heal some of the wounds caused by the breakdown of the friendship, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, allowing you to see more clearly and understand the reasons for the breakdown. But what happens once the dust has settled and you have worked through all of the events of the past, and healed from the hurt that was caused, how can you bring your friendship back from the dead?
Making the first contact can be the most challenging part of the whole process. You need to make sure that you go about this the right way and do not mess things up again. It can be a painful and uncomfortable experience trying to overcome your nerves and break down those barriers that were built in the past. The easiest option would be to write a letter or send an email but to get things off to the best start you should really consider speaking to them in person. The written word can often be misinterpreted or your intent misread. When you speak over the telephone or face to face there is no chance that you intensions can be misunderstood. Your tone of voice will carry the emotions that you feel and if you are face to face your facial expressions and body language will be easily read.
Address the Issues
The issues that caused the breakdown of your relationship need to be addressed, and whilst this may feel like you are raking over old coals it is not about dredging up the past just for the sake of it. You need to discuss how the breakdown of the friendship made you feel and how you have dealt with the aftermath of the emotional upheaval. You should explain why you believe it is time to build bridges and allow them to understand how you have missed your friendship and what has prompted you to want to rekindle the relationship.
If it was your fault that the relationship came to an end, over something that you did or said, offer a sincere and heartfelt apology. Make them understand why an apology was not forthcoming at the time – you were hurt, angry or confused. Make them understand what has prompted you to make an apology now. If you feel responsible for the friendship falling apart and regret your actions at the time, make them see how you feel about it all. If it was your friend that was at fault and not you, accept any apology that is offered graciously, you know yourself how difficult it is to admit that you were in the wrong, so listen carefully to what they have to say, from start to finish without interrupting.
Fill in the Gaps
A lot will have happened in both of your lives whilst you have been out of touch with each other so start catching up and filling in the gaps. Depending on how long you have been apart there may have been some major life events taking place that you could have gone through together, if you feel hurt or upset by something that the other has gone through, explain that you would have liked to have been there with them to help them through, or celebrate a happy event with them.
Take the Friendship Forwards
Discuss where you think your friendship will take you in the future. It could be that there has been a marriage of the birth of a child in the time that you have been apart, so you may not have the unlimited availability to do things together that you had in the past. Jobs could have changed meaning that you may have to works around shift patterns or travel itineraries. The things that you enjoy doing may also have changed so it may be that whatever you do in your free time together will also change, don’t assume that things can just go back to the way that they were, you will both need to accommodate the changes in each other’s lifestyle.
Things to Bear in Mind
Once you know what you both expect from your reinstated friendship it will allow you to take it forwards, and a clear understanding of what you both want should prevent any misunderstanding or disappointment in the future.
Though you may want to renew your friendship there is no guarantee that the other person will. It may be that they have planted whatever happened firmly and deeply in the past, and have no desire to rekindle anything to do with that part of their lives again. You should be prepared for a rejection, and it may well hurt you more this time than anything from the breakdown of your friendship ever did. If your approach is rejected you need to chalk the whole matter up to experience and move on, there is no point dwelling on the past as it will only hold you back in the future.