How to Rebuild a Friendship After Hurt Feelings

Confronting the source of the hurt feelings directly can repair a friendship.
... Jupiterimages/ Images

Friendships can bring the joys of support, fun and excitement to your life as you spend time with people you care about -- but these tight-knit relationships can also lead to disagreements and rifts when misunderstandings or frustrations arise. While these complications may leave you feeling uneasy, hurt feelings do not have to mean that the friendship is over. Acting quickly may prevent the rift between the two of you from growing bigger. While there are no guarantees that your friendship can be saved, knowing how to handle hurt feelings may help the bond grow stronger.

Think about the possible sources of your friend's hurt feelings. In some cases, it may not be clear what you did wrong, especially if your friend has not told you, but reflecting on what went wrong can sometimes give you insights on how to improve your relationship. Thinking about your friend's intentions may also help if you were hurt by her recently. If it is possible that she misspoke, or that only one incident led to your hurt feelings, it may not be worth holding on to your anger. Thinking through what happened can help you feel calmer and more confident when you discuss the issue with your friend, too.

Arrange a calm, quiet time to discuss the matter with your friend, as this can help both of you feel more comfortable and receptive to the conversation, according to PBS Kids. While speaking to her privately, you might say, "I have noticed that you seem upset this past week. Did I do something to upset you?" If you were hurt, you might say, "I felt hurt when you made that joke when I made dinner last week. It made me feel that you were insulting my cooking abilities."

Listen to your friend's side of the story, as this can help you better understand what happened from his point of view. Maybe you did do something to upset him, or it could be possible that a joke he made was intended to make you laugh, but unintentionally came off as insulting.

Apologize to your friend. A sincere, effective apology can go a long way toward repairing a friendship, whether you wronged your friend or whether you just believe that preserving your friendship means more than being right. Your apology should acknowledge what you did wrong, provide an explanation for your behavior, express remorse and convey an effort to do better in the future, according to Aaron Lazare, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in an article for the Greater Good Science Center out of University of California, Berkeley. You might say, "I'm sorry that I worked overtime and missed your party. I should have called to tell you I couldn't make it. In the future, I'll give you at least a few hours' notice."

Give your friend distance if he needs time to process your apology. He may or may not accept your words. If your friend doesn't accept your apology, it may mean that it is time to look for new friendships. If he does accept your apology, you should try to do everything you said you would when you apologized, states Lazare. If you were wronged, but you still feel the friendship is worth it, it may be better to let go of your hurt feelings after you've talked to your friend about it. Either way, it's important to remember that rebuilding trust -- and your friendship -- can take time, and it takes effort from both people in the relationship.

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.