Fighting with a friend is the worst. I don't mean "you wore my shirt and spilled red wine on it" or "you ate the leftovers I was looking forward to all day" fights. I mean friendship-ending fights. Fighting is hard, and figuring out how to make up with a friend is even harder. No one knows how to hurt you quite like someone who knows your deep dark secrets. You scream, you cry, you give each other the silent treatment for as many days as you can stand it (or until something so amazing happens that you just need to tell them about), but eventually realize the fight isn't worth losing your friendship over.
According to Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship Fix, who spoke to Bustle in a phone interview, maintaining friendships is important to not only your mental and emotional health, but your physical health, too. According to Bonior, people with strong friendships have actually been proven to recover from trauma faster and even live longer, so it's actually important for your health (and sanity) to let go of your grudge and make up with your friend.
Once you cool off and remember how much you actually love your friend, figure out what you're going to need to be able to get over what happened and get your friendship back to a good place. Then suck it up and go talk to them. Here are six tips to help you do it successfully.
1. Make Sure You Are Fully Ready To Make Up
When I was in college, one of my very close friends started sleeping with my ex-boyfriend behind my back. I thought I was ready to forgive her after a few months, so I did, but it turns out I wasn’t even close to being over it. In trying to fix things between us before I was ready, I ended up making things worse. Only let your friend back into your life, and agree to be back in theirs, if you are absolutely sure it’s what you want and you are fully prepared to put everything that’s happened behind you.
2. Do It In Person
Like in all serious conversations, face to face is better, according to Bonior. Figure out what you want to achieve from the conversation, schedule a time on neutral turf, and go talk to your friend.
3. Know That If You Want To Talk Things Through, That’s On You
Ask yourself if you will be able to move on from the situation knowing the other person is never going to see things the way you do. Are you OK with that? If not, going through and rehashing the situation might be necessary. Bonior advises saying something along the lines of "I’ve given this a ton of thought it's still bothering me. Your friendship means so much to me, and it's really tearing me up to imagine that this is going to get in the way of our friendship, but I've got to be honest, I still feel unheard and still feel this is hanging over my head. I want to give it another try to talk it out and figure out how we can work through this.” Even if you and the other person agree to disagree in the end, you’ll at least feel like your feelings have been heard.
4. Remember That If You Want To Forget It And Move On, That’s OK Too
Have you ever been in a huge, blow up fight with a friend (or a boyfriend, or your mom, or your cat) only to realize after a few days that the whole thing was really, really, stupid? Yeah, same. When that happens, going over the conflict again and again may not be worth it for the sake of salvaging the friendship. Instead, says Bonior, say “I’m willing to put this behind us, the future of our relationship is worth more than this conflict. I wonder how you feel about us being able to start fresh, move past this, not talk about it anymore.”
5. Apologize, But Only If You Mean It
Chances are, your friend knows you pretty well, and be able to tell if you full of BS in your apology. Bonior says, “If you feel like an apology is genuine, and you want to put it out there because you feel like it’s real, certainly do so.” Fake apologies, especially ones that are coercive — saying something like “I’m sorry, but you were being a jerk,” — only make things worse.
You guys have made up — yay! Give each other a hug and go get a glass of wine and catch up on everything that happened while you were busy hating each other.
Some time soon, you'll look back on the whole thing and laugh.
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