Lifestyle

How to heal a friendship rift – and 9 signs it’s time to let go


When is a friendship worth saving? And how can you do that? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Friends will make you happier, healthier and even help you live longer – research backs that up.

‘The larger and more diverse your social network, the less susceptible you are to the common cold and depression,’ says Erin Falconer, friendship expert. ‘And the amount of time we spend with our friends is the single more important determinate to how long you will live.

‘Plus, nothing has more power to give us fuel, inspire joy and create true meaning than friendship.’

Sounds great. But what do you do then when you fall out with a friend? And how do you make up?

We’ve watched how much drama can ensue from a friendship fallout as we watch Carrie grieve the loss of Samantha, one of her best mates, in the Sex and the City spin off And Just Like That (which mirrors an off-screen fall out between actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall). We might have even experienced the loss of a friend first-hand.

Sometimes, it’s best to cut your losses and move on. But other times, a friendship rift can be resolved.

Ahead, Erin give us the lowdown on how and when to make up and when not to bother…

Ask yourself what you want

Erin tells Metro.co.uk: ‘If you’ve had a row with a friend, be honest and ask: do you really want to save this friendship?

‘What’s upset you? Is it a behaviour or an integral character trait of your friend? A behaviour can be worked on, but a character trait cannot. If it’s part an integral part of their character and you can’t live with it, then maybe you will have to exit the friendship.

‘Try to imagine your life without this person. It’s valuable to picture how that looks and feels. Is it a weight off your shoulders or a gut punch?’

Make sure you understand where things went wrong (Picture: Getty / Metro.co.uk)

Learn to deal with conflict

‘If you have any long-standing friendship of any consequence, conflict will arise,’ says Erin. ‘By learning to deal with the small conflicts, your friendships will grow.

‘By swallowing your feelings or not being upfront and not saying anything, small irritations can turn into explosions.

‘Try following this three-step communication model: “this the problem, this is how I feel about it, what can we do about it?”.’

Take responsibility

A friendship is created by two people. If there’s an issue, it’s likely you had some part to play.

‘Yes, there are people that take advantage and behave badly,’ notes Erin. ‘But if you’re in that relationship for a long time, you’re co-creating that relationship.

‘Start by being a better friend to yourself. Build your self-worth and self-respect by replacing your own negative self-talk with positive.’

Lead with vulnerability

Erin suggests: ‘Lead with vulnerability. If you want to repair the friendship, ask to meet, be brave and say what you’re feeling and where you’ve been hurt. Talk about your feelings.

‘Tell them that the friendship is a priority, and you want to make up. Give them space to talk about their feelings and ask them if they want to repair the relationship too.

‘If it’s you who have behaved badly (forgotten a birthday/gossiped etc), apologise.’

Have an honest chat about your friendship (Picture: Getty / Metro.co.uk)

Do a friendship audit

Agree to answer the following questions together:

  • Name a couple of things you love about me?
  • How would you define the friendship?
  • Is there a specific moment you knew we would be friends?
  • What is the one of the best memories of our friendship? What do we have in common/differences?
  • When was the last time you irritated each other and you didn’t say anything, and why?
  • When did you last let you each other down?
  • When was the last time you told each other that you loved them?
  • Are there subjects you can’t discuss with them – why?
  • Is there anything you want that you’re not getting?
  • What’s your friendship superpower?

An audit will help you both get really clear about why you are friends.

Be a better friend

We can all learn to be better friends. How? Put your phone down, stop scrolling and listen actively: make eye contact, don’t interrupt, reflect back what you heard, don’t listen to the words, tune into the emotional information your friend is giving off (is she tense, fearful, sad?).

Communicate well by being honest and vulnerable and sharing your real feelings. Always be discreet: don’t gossip or share your friends’ business.

Finally, make sure you prioritise your friendship – stop cancelling last minute and make time to see your friends.

Research from the University of Kansas found that it takes 40 hours to become a casual friend and up to 200 hours before you make it to best friend status. If you want good friends, invest the hours.

Grieve the loss

If you do decide the friendship can’t be saved, process your feelings and be clear on your message.

‘Don’t react in the moment,’ says Erin. ‘Your anger and hurt will fade but you will always feel bad if you’re unnecessarily cruel.

‘Even if you’re the one ending it, give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the friendship.’



Signs it’s time to let go of a friend

  • They only call when they want something
  • The conversation is never equal – it’s mostly about them.
  • They put you down and make fun of you in front of others.
  • You don’t feel good when you’ve seen them.
  • They aren’t happy for you when things go your way and you hesitate before sharing your good news.
  • They bring drama to your life.
  • They bail on you.
  • They use your secrets against you.
  • They talk about others and you behind your back.
    How to Break Up With Your Friends: Finding Meaning, Connection, and Boundaries in Modern Friendships (Sounds True, £19.99).

Erin Falconer is the author of new book How To Break Up With Your Friends: Finding Meaning, Connection, And Boundaries In Modern Friendships (Sounds True, £19.99).

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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