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Dear Heidi: How do you patch things up with a friend after a falling out?

Hold your friends dear, really build and nurture those relationships. So when inevitable disagreements occur, you'll be able to recover.

Life is messy, and relationships are messier. It is nearly impossible to have a long-term relationship with a friend without some disagreements or even downright arguments. We are all human, after all, and the best of us are passionate.  

We are passionate about our work, our feelings, our opinions, and our relationships. Sometimes our zeal can get in the way and create a riff, especially when the other person does not share the same level of zest. Usually, these riffs resolve themselves. My mother used to say, “Sometimes things just have a way of working themselves out.” Her advice has traditionally been right.

There are other times when you have a row, a fight with a friend that somehow escalates into something that goes beyond your intent. Sometimes this happens somewhat innocently, an off-hand comment your friend grossly misinterprets.  Or, in an attempt to please everyone, you end up annoying everyone, especially your friend, which can disintegrate and cause a real fissure in your friendship.  

Other times, in a moment when your EQ takes a dip, and you lose control of your emotions, it can result in unfortunate exchanges. Once you say or type something, you cannot take it back; it’s out there. Alternatively, you may be on the receiving end of a momentary loss of control, and you find yourself nursing bruised feelings or worse, mending broken ones.  

In either case, innocent lapses or momentary regressions, both demand an apology, and the sooner, the better. Check your moral compass, open your Social Codes toolbox, and be the best version of yourself; say, “I’m sorry.” The trick to success is, you have to mean it. If you are sincerely sorry, your friend will sense that and hopefully accept your apology. Then, you both move on with your friendship. If you are receiving an apology and want to take it, accept it with grace.  Friendly tip; it's best not to revisit that upset.

On the other hand, there are times when the damage from a falling out is too substantial, or the hurt is too severe, and the wound will not heal. These are sad moments in your life, for which I am sorry. Making and keeping friends is one of our greatest treasures, but it’s not always easy. Friendships can be like marriages, sometimes they're harder — it’s about love, respect, and compromise.  To lose a friend is like mourning a death, the death of your friendship.  

My mother used to tell me that at the end of your life, if you have one true friend, you are a fortunate person. Treat your friends well, in good times and bad, and you will have a better chance of overcoming tumultuous times.  

Hold your friends near — figuratively speaking these days — we all need each other.


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