No matter how long ago you two parted ways, you still reminisce about the good — and often heartfelt — times you and your best friend once shared.
Being a shoulder to lean on post-breakup.
Laughing until your bellies ached.
Defending one another from the schoolyard bully.
Standing at the end of the aisle on their big day.
But when adult responsibilities like parenting, marriage, and a career enfold, those meaningful connections begin slipping away.
Or may a breach of trust or relentless stubbornness is straining your bond. Let bygones be bygones! Here are five ways to Revive Broken Friendship.
Make the First Move
It’s possible that you and your long-lost friend both want to mend your connection. But you’ll never for sure unless you extend the olive branch.
It all begins with that first message.
How to Reach Out
No matter how close you (or your families) once were, assume that whatever open-door policy existed has since expired. Nobody wants a surprise guest barging in as they’re stirring the pasta or taking a bath — especially a frenemy.
You shouldn’t knock on their front door unannounced, but you can:
- Send them a private message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
- Fire off a text
- Give them a call
- Deliver a Christmas card, birthday greeting, or “thinking of you” letter
Waiting for a response can be nerve-wracking. Especially in the digital age where read receipts can feel like a gut-wrenching rejection.
Send the message, and give it some time to simmer. Don’t follow up with a “?” or angsty message if they don’t answer immediately. If your friend is in a forgiving headspace, you’ll probably hear back within 24-72 hours.
What to Say
The message’s content is even more crucial than tapping that “send” button. You want to find the happy medium that’s not too distanced (“hi”) but also not too heavy or blame-assigning (“I want to talk about why you stole my money.”)
So, what do you say?
Start with something light-hearted and short.
That can be a simple “Hope all is well.” Or letting them know that a particular pub, mutual friend, or radio tune jogged your memory and made you think of them.
Don’t mention the elephant in the room from the get-go.
Ask to Have an Honest Discussion
The hard truth is that your ex-friend doesn’t have to respond to your message, and it’s their right to block your number or delete you as a friend. Such is life.
But if you’re lucky enough to get an answer, proceed cautiously, and do this:
Ask to Talk In Any Way *Other* Than Written Text
Texting is convenient and allows for flexible time communication (on your break, at the park, or while watching Hulu). Yet, it can also be a relationship-ruiner. Due to its limitations — misconstrued tone, no eye contact, no back-and-forth.
Was that a passive-aggressive “sure?” Or is she enthusiastic about meeting?
Avoid this problem entirely by asking to meet up or talk sans-text.
That leaves you with quite a few options:
- A pre-planned phone call or video chat
- Walking at the park
- Going for a drive
- Meeting at the coffee shop
A word to the wise: You might have been regulars in one another’s homes, but that trust is currently teetering on the edge. Suggest a public place, if possible.
If they express discomfort about being in a car with you, weigh other ideas. Don’t pressure them or give them ultimatums (“The only way I’ll see you is if it’s ___”).
What to Talk About
If your friend didn’t want to rebuild the friendship or at least hear what you had to say, they would’ve declined the offer. But if the gap extends years or even decades, that first meet-up can be like getting to know a stranger. An important step when reading about Revive Broken Friendship.
Start slow and ease into the nitty-gritty topics.
Ask about what they’ve been up to since you’ve spoken last. Say something like, “I saw on Facebook that you….” or “[mutual friend] mentioned that you ….” to bust through those awkward silences.
Focus on these innocent topics, if you can.
If you heard there was trouble in paradise in their marriage, save that conversation for when your relationship is stronger. If your friend pulled up in a beat-up Honda instead of their pride and joy BMW, don’t ask if they’re struggling financially.
These seemingly harmless conversation starters can sound snobby or passive-aggressive.
Use “I” Statements & Never Assume
Once you get the small talk out of the way and share a few smiles, try to guide the conversation to what led to the friendship’s demise (betrayal, moving away, etc.).
Warning: Tip-toe around this chat carefully to avoid turning it into a blame game.
How to Use “I” Statements
An “I” statement (or message) is a way of expressing yourself without shifting the blame or assigning fault to somebody else. The beauty in life is that we can all experience the same thing yet come away with a unique perspective.
You cannot possibly know that your friend said something intending to hurt you, and it’s not fair to shame them as if they did.
Here’s the difference an “I” statement can make:
- “You hurt me when you …” vs. “I felt hurt when you …”
- “You didn’t care that I …” vs. “To me, it seemed like you didn’t care that …”
- “You didn’t appreciate when I …” vs. “I was worried that you’d …”
Take your words slowly, and don’t respond impulsively when you feel cornered. The goal is to keep this conversation calm and voices low. Slipping and listing your former buddy’s faults will only put them on defense mode and ruin the progress.
As satisfying as it’d be to start with, “While we’re here, is there anything you want to apologize about?” being passive-aggressive isn’t a good look. But even if your pal doesn’t cave and list their shortcomings, that doesn’t mean you should too.
Acknowledge your faults, and, most importantly, apologize!
Be honest about what you did wrong. Admit how your actions or words could have caused anger or seemed like an intentional betrayal — no matter how petty it seems.
“I’m sorry that I told everyone about your engagement before you could. I didn’t realize how I was hurting you until I put myself in your shoes.”
Don’t try to play them down like they weren’t that big of a deal. They were to your friend. Apologize because you’re self-aware, not because you know an “I’m sorry” can possibly rebound the friendship ASAP.