As we have gone through the series, you may have wondered when we would talk about dealing with broken friendships. Well that day has arrived! If you draw a huge portion of your strength and support in life from your friends - then nothing hurts worse than a friend who betrayed that friendship! This feeling of betrayal and/or rejection can go as deep as sleeping with your husband or as "small" as forgetting to invite you to a significant event in their life.
I hesitate to use the word small, because what is small to me may be big to you. We have to be cognizant of how people interpret things. Can you tell that a HUGE portion of this series involves you communicating with people around you in order to see behavior change?? Communication is the key to successful relationships. Today I have several helpful suggestions for both the friend who has been hurt and the friend who did the hurting. These suggestions will help you if you're sincere in moving forward. Moving forward could mean repairing a relationship, but it does not have to lead to relationship repair. Some friendships will never be repaired, while others can be repaired slowly.
TO THE FRIEND WHO WAS HURT:
I'm sorry! I'm sorry you were hurt so deeply. I wish I had better advice than to tell you that sometimes these things happen in life....but I don't. Unfortunately, these things happen in life and the people who tend to take them the most seriously are the people who feel things the most passionately.
It may not have been you. When you feel things so passionately, it is easy to take offense to things people say and do that may not even be about you. Perhaps the person who hurt you struggles with being authentic in their relationships, because of how they have experienced things in the past. For example, if you grew up and experienced "friendships" as people constantly using you for your money - it's most likely that you will struggle being authentic with someone who is genuinely interested in being your friend, but also seriously needs financial help.
It might have been you. The other downside to experiencing things so passionately in life is that you tend to assume a LOT! You tend to misinterpret relationships, because you're open and vulnerable. When you're open and vulnerable, you are naiive and susceptible to anything that comes relatively close to what you're looking for in the opposite sex, a parental figure or a friend. In this case, it may not be fair to blame the other person. You have ask yourself the following questions: Did you expect too much from this relationship? Did you expect too much too quick? Did you assume you were at a different level of friendship in this relationship?
Time heals. Time heals all wounds. We hate to wait things out, but waiting is a normal part of life that we have to get used to. Time will soften your heart up so that if you see that person again after being hurt, you can respond without starting World War III. Time heals, but it doesn't work magic. If you have not worked through your feelings around the hurt, you will experience those feelings of betrayal and rejection the moment you see the person just as intensely as you felt them when the hurt first took place. I have been constantly stating through-out the series that there is nothing wrong with counseling and I mean it. I would encourage you to get counseling for those wounds.
TO THE FRIEND WHO HAS HURT:
Are you on the opposite end of the spectrum? Do you typically receive the feedback that you hurt someone so deeply? Yet you don't see why so many people are so sensitive....I am not talking about that one person who is always saying you hurt their feelings. I can't speak to an individual relationship without knowing the situation. However, if you have several relationships in your life where people keep saying the same thing - it's probably worth exploring...
The question you must ask yourself is: what is the real reason I am struggling to be genuine in so many relationships? Is it something in me that is causing me to react this way? What type of people do I attract? Are these the types of people I want to attract? Where does the relationship typically fall apart?
If you find that people are always saying you hurt them, then it's a good chance that you are not being honest in your relationship with them. In every relationship - no matter how tough - it's best to be completely honest about things. For example, if you aren't ready to meet your significant other's parents just yet - it's ok for you to say it. The most important thing here is HOW you say it. Don't be rude, but simply communicate that you are not ready. Even if you are not sure why you are not ready. Being authentic with yourself will save you time and deeper wounds. This will most likely sting for the other person to hear it, but it is a sign that there is something you're not comfortable with. If you're not comfortable with something, it's worth exploring.
Once you have reached a point where you have explored exactly what happened in the relationship, you have to ask yourself if the relationship is worth salvaging. There is a difference between irreparable damage and your "first offense" of damage. There are some relationships you will never get back because of how things may have taken place. No matter how many apologies you offer, it may be a lost cause. At this point, all you can do is ask yourself how things can be different in the future. What would be helpful for you in future relationships?
If you're finding it hard to sort through these things alone - contact me and I will do my best to help you figure some things out. In the meantime, think about these questions as a starting point.