A male reader named “Krist” posted an interesting question on our Facebook page. I thought others might have the same dilemma so I asked him for permission to share my reply here. He agreed and he offered for me to use his real (and uncommon) first name.
“I recently read the book you co-authored with Gary Chapman, “When Sorry Isn’t Enough.” It described PERFECTLY the problems that ended my last relationship/very dear friendship, and that continue to keep us apart.”:
The book focused a great deal on how apologies can heal and mend relationships; marriages, siblings, parents and children, friendships. But what about simply healing past hurts and going your separate ways in peace? It is not always meant for a relationship to be mended and move forward, but healing past hurts can go a long way towards being able to move into new relationships with a sense of peace, without having the past nagging at your conscience. ..is my opinion, at least. Do you have thoughts or advice on this idea?
Krist, thank you for your questions. I’m glad to hear that our book addressed the problems that cropped up in your very dear friendship. I know first-hand how upsetting and all-consuming broken relationships can be. Personally, I often find that misunderstandings get blown out of proportion and soon the relationship gets blown up. With one friend, our superhighway of communication was reduced to rubble. There was no passable road for seven long years.
In your question, you made a nice list of family relationships and then you ended with friendships. To your point, family and covenant relationships are different from friendships. I believe that they DO require more attempts at reconciliation than friendships do.
I think you’re right that the best we can do in some friendships is to “heal past hurts and go your separate ways in peace.” What might that look like? It’s hard to write the perfect scenario because it is an uncomfortable situation. If possible, I’d talk calmly with my former friend and say something like this: I’m sorry to see that our friendship is not working right now. I can see that you’re hurt and I feel awkward too. I want you to know that I will not harbor bitterness towards you. In fact, I wish you all the best. I hope you can say the same for me. If you do want to reconnect at some point, let’s start slowly- maybe through letters. In the meantime, I will continue to laugh at our shared jokes and be grateful for the memories we’ve made together.
To My Blog Readers:
Can you relate to his situation?
What advice might you offer?