What do you do when a friend disappoints you?

Sometimes it can come as a shock when a friend lets you down. You begin to question your entire relationship, you start to wonder if she really was your friend to begin with, and you look back on the history of your friendship and hyper-analyze what went wrong.

When an officemate or group mate lets you down, it is frustrating and maybe even infuriating, but when it’s a friend—someone you are so used to confiding in, someone you feel so safe with—it feels like a deception. The wounds cut deep and you don’t know how you’re going to handle it. At the same time, you don’t know how your friendship will weather the storm.

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What you can do

1. Let yourself be angry.
Sure people will tell you to be brave, to be strong, and not to be angry, but imagine bottling up all those negative emotions and not letting them out? All the repression will one day make you explode, giving you a headache, or worse, a heart attack! Or you might one day be calmly going about your business when something takes you by surprise, making you snap. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you? So let your anger out the safest way you know how—write and tear up the pages afterwards, take a kickboxing class, go swimming, running, or punch your pillows. Just make sure you don’t hurt yourself or anybody else in the process.

2. Reflect on what happened and why.
Former guidance counselor Nympha Banzon suggests thinking about the situation after you have let off steam. It’s possible that you also played a role in this. Try to see what happened from a neutral perspective. It might help if you write about how you feel, then try taking your feelings out of the equation and be as objective as possible.   

3. Put yourself in your friend’s shoes.
Banzon says that if you try to see what happened from your friend’s perspective, you may be able to understand her and eventually, even forgive her. If you are really good friends, you might not even find this difficult. Don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment at this point.

4. Make a list of all the reasons why you love your friend
Yes, this must be the hardest thing to do at this point, but remember that you have already let all your anger out. So you should be able to recall why she was your friend in the first place. This will make it easier for you to forgive her and rebuild your ties.

5. Talk to your friend.
Good friends are hard to come by, and if you can get past this disappointment, it could actually make your friendship stronger. But first, you have to get the unpleasantness out of the way and talk to each other. Banzon says to explain how you feel and why you are disappointed and hurt. When you talk, remember not to assign blame. At the same time, it would be a good idea to approach the situation by saying how you feel instead of dwelling on what she did. For example, you can say,  “I felt bad when…” instead of “You hurt me when…”

6. Watch your reactions.
Remember that you’re in a very sensitive place right now and your friend probably is too. If both of you want to work it out, you’re well on your way to patching things up. But remember to also watch what you say. If you think it won’t improve matters, or if it will hurt her even more, hold your tongue. Only speak up if it will help your friend and your circumstances. 

7. Move on.
According to Banzon, this is the last step you must take. Get past the hurt and the pain and get on with your life. If you’ve fixed things with your friend, good! If you can’t seem to see eye to eye, then maybe it’s time to let go. Just don’t hold a grudge because that would hurt you more than it hurts your object of hatred.  Who knows? Maybe all you need is time to make everything right again. 

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