Friendships sometimes fade, that’s part of life. In some cases, both parties are at peace with this, in other situations it leads to sadness and loss. Restoring the friendship can then be a great wish. But how do you know if that’s such a good idea?
Sharon Blijd is a relationship therapist and gives tips. Although she hardly ever sees friends pass by in her practice, the relationship between friends can be compared in many aspects to that of a love relationship. “Like any relationship, it is a balance of give and take.”
Restore friendship? That’s how you find out if that’s a good idea
Is it only the memory that binds you or does a faded friendship offer a new perspective for the future? It is a difficult question that many people have asked themselves. If you’re about to rekindle a friendship, according to Blijd it’s good to first ask yourself how you felt about the friendship. It is important to look at that balance between giving and taking. “If for some reason you feel that balance was skewed during the friendship, restoring the friendship may not be a good idea. Anyone who gives a lot and receives little or nothing in return does not get any energy from the friendship. If you didn’t feel valued and heard before, it’s unlikely that anything will change when you try again,” says Blijd.
Another factor to consider is the stage of life when the friendship was at its strongest. In most cases, a friendship does not dilute because of a big fight, but because of changing lives. The most common example of this is the period after studying. Friends you used to go out with suddenly turn out to be nothing more than those party friends. You find out that you don’t have much in common with each other. Blijd: “In life there are people who always grow with you, but there are also people who drop out in a new phase of life. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing: it’s okay that some friendships don’t suit you anymore.”
What’s in it?
If you are considering sending a message to a friend from the past, according to Blijd it is always a good idea to ask yourself what it will yield. A tricky question to which you may not know one, two, three answers. To create clarity for yourself, the therapist advises you to ask yourself the following questions.
- Will it help me to restore this friendship?
- Can I also give something back to the other?
- Does the person listen to me and does he/she mirror my standards and values?
- Is that person taking me to a higher goal?
- Are we at the same stage of life and do we want the same things in life?
Once you’ve found the answers to those questions, you’ll know if it’s a good idea to get back in touch. The friendship balance remains important: both parties have to give as well as take for the relationship to succeed.
After an argument
When the friendship is not so much diluted, but suddenly disappeared due to an altercation or argument, then it is a different story, according to the relationship therapist. The most important factor then is to figure out what the argument was about. In that case there is probably anger and underlying feelings that you are not showing. Those feelings can last for a long time. “That’s why I’m in favor of talking it out. A cooling-off period is important,” explains Blijd, “otherwise there will only be reproaches thrown over and over again. Talking about what went wrong together can be the key to a renewed relationship.”
Tips to revive a friendship
If you have taken stock for yourself and are sure that a renewed friendship is worth it, then it is time to act. Check with yourself why you need contact again and explain this clearly to the other person. “Engage in conversation,” the therapist advises. “And be open and without expectations. Maybe the other person doesn’t need it, which can feel like a rejection. In that case, give yourself time to mourn the friendship that once was.”
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Restoring old friendship a good idea? This is what a relationship therapist says about it