I am possibly the least dramatic person I know.
I don’t take things friends say or do personally, don’t assume the worst of them, and hold pretty low expectations of others in general. (They should put themselves and their families first, not me.) Yet even then, once every year or so, a friend is mad at me.
It’s inevitable. We all know that in our heads.
But it still stings, doesn’t it? It hurts to feel that separation, to experience their purposeful exclusion of you from their life.
So…what can you do when your friend is mad at you? What should you do?
Here’s what I’ve found both (1) makes me feel better and (2) ensures our friendship has the best chance for reconciliation:
First of all, consider your words and actions and determine if they warrant an apology.
None of us are perfect. Think through your last few interactions with your friend to determine what exactly might have angered them. Whether intentional or unintentional on your part, the outcome is usually the same.
If you can figure out what upset them, decide if it calls for an apology…or at least an explanation. And if it does…apologize! Explain!
Sure, you could return silence for silence, anger for anger, but has that worked for you in the past? It usually just ensures that we end up hateful and lonely.
Secondly, if you’re not sure what’s up with them, ask!
Rather than wondering and imagining what might be up…just ask them.
This is easier said than done, I’ll admit. Who wants to kick off an uncomfortable conversation, am I right?
But it doesn’t have to be complex. “Hey, you’ve seemed kind of distant lately. Did I say or do something to upset you?”
They’ll either (a) tell you exactly what you did in great detail, (b) deny it, or (c) let you in on something much bigger.
I once thought a friend was mad at me but when I asked her, learned she had just lost her job and was in a weird headspace…for obvious reasons! No matter what they answer, you’ll have done your part to ask and follow up with them.
Third, give them time and space to cool down.
Most people can’t turn on a dime when it comes to their emotions and your friend is likely no different. They’ll need time to work through their emotions in their own head before they’re ready to talk and reconcile with someone else.
By pushing them for an answer sooner than they’re ready to talk, you’ll likely just exacerbate the issue. So resist the urge to press in for answers if they’re not willing to give them just yet.
Fourth, don’t dwell on negative thoughts.
I was once super upset with a friend for taking advantage of me. And every morning as I dried my hair, I’d think about how messed up the entire situation was.
I started fighting with her in my head, saying exactly what I thought, though she wasn’t even aware the conversation was happening there in my bathroom. And unsurprisingly, every morning I grew more and more angry at my friend.
You become what you dwell on. So choose to not dwell on speculations or bitterness.
Fifth, take the high road.
Again, you could return silence for silence. You could avoid them, roll your eyes at them, or gossip about them to your other friends.
But if you sincerely wish to reconcile your friendship, don’t make messes you’ll have to clean up later.
By remaining available to talk, treating them respectfully, and resisting the urge to crank up the drama, you’ll be taking the high road. And you’ll avoid giving them any ammo that could stoke the fire.
Bonus: Saying no to petty drama will also help you to avoid piling additional stress and negative emotions on yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Sixth, reflect on your relationship.
Now I’m the last person to tell you to “cancel” everyone who looks at you sideways. I believe cancel culture only leaves us feeling critical, angry, and lonely. But sometimes you have to ask if a relationship is enhancing your life or diminishing its quality.
Do you spend the majority of your friendship fighting with this person? Are they always assuming the worst of you and leaving you to walk on eggshells?
Are they bringing more love than pain to your life? How about more love than stress? Do they check any of the boxes of a toxic friendship?
Friendships are two-way streets. And if you’re the only one putting in the work and reconciling the relationship when things go awry, it might be time to get some new friends.
And finally, let it go.
If your friend isn’t interested in reconciliation, it may be time to let it go.
Again, friendship is a two-way street and it’s going to take more than one of you to patch things up between you. So be willing to step away, at least for a while.
Maybe you and your friend will reconnect again in the near (or far) future. Or maybe this is where you part ways.
Either way, you can only control your own actions, not theirs. If they’re not willing to talk and reconnect, save yourself the mental turmoil and pause the friendship.
Don’t panic when your friend is mad at you! This is a normal part of every friendship and should be expected.
By choosing your words and thoughts wisely, taking the high road, and allowing time to reflect and heal, you can find peace even if/when your friend chooses not to. You can’t control their actions, but you can choose yours.
And your actions, friend? They’re powerful. You’ve got this.
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