How to Restore a Burnt Bridge in a Friendship

Make eye contact with your friend for more honest communication.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

Some friends experience a conflict so great that a deep rift forms and the relationship ends. But in certain cases, the separation doesn't have to be permanent. Clinging to betrayals and disappointments is not good for the body, according to the Huffington Post article "How to Forgive, and Why You Should." Reconciling can not only be a relief; it can lead to a stronger friendship in the end. With enough effort and positive energy, the bond can be renewed and trust rebuilt. If both people are willing to move on, the relationship can have a fresh start.

1 Getting to the Bottom of It

The first step in restoring a broken friendship is acknowledging what drove you apart. Get to the bottom of the issue. Emotion can cloud the underlying reason for a burnt bridge. Pride, resentment, jealousy or fear may prevent someone from recognizing the reality of the situation and more importantly, from admitting his role in the conflict. Determine the cause of the separation and what ultimately destroyed the friendship before trying to fix it.

2 Communicating

If and when your friend is willing, arrange a time to get together and discuss what happened. You or your friend may need time and space before feeling ready to do this. Each person should have a chance to express his feelings and how or why he was hurt. The conversation is an opportunity for both people to communicate thoughts. Both should admit their roles in the argument and apologize if necessary. Validate your friend's feelings by sympathizing, and describe your own feelings of disappointment and betrayal.

3 Forgiving and Forgetting

Forgiving a friend who has hurt you deeply can be extremely difficult. However, it is often the most helpful step. Deciding to forgive and forget can help you begin to rebuild trust. In the "Women's Health" article "How to Forgive a Friend," Mary Elizabeth Williams explains that it's appropriate to be angry when someone hurts you, but moving on can be freeing.

4 Putting in the Effort

Once you have addressed the crisis that ended the friendship, begin to rebuild your relationship slowly but confidently. Plan to spend time together, even when it's inconvenient. Go out of your way to connect with your friend and catch up on each other's lives. Don't let minor disagreements fester and morph into larger ones, recommends Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., in the PsychCentral article "The Care and Maintenance of Friendship." Occasional conflict is normal in relationships, but try to work through problems as they happen so you can maintain a solid, lasting friendship.

Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.