How To Win Her Back

Last night a reader wrote a really heartbreaking comment on this blog post about best friend breakups. The topic pushes a lot of buttons. In fact, the post in question was one of the most popular on this blog. Everyone seems to have some experience with friend breakups, and it seems we can all agree that they are pretty traumatic.

The reader in question says she’s sick over how her BFF ended their relationship just a few days ago.  “My heart is breaking and I have physical pain through my neck and back and a migraine that would bring a linebacker to his knees.  As I sit and type this she is next door. I know this because her car is parked out front. I am praying she will come knock on my door so we can talk … This is way worse than when I caught my husband cheating on me, way way worse.” The circumstances of this breakup are complicated and more or less irrelevant to today’s post, but, if you’re curious, there is backstory here.

The question of the day, though, is what do you do when you want your BFF back? Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, who said what to who or who didn’t say something they should have, sometimes you just don’t want to be fighting anymore. You want to be besties.

I’m one of those people who absolutely hates being in fights. I get in a panic if I think someone I love is mad at me (I even hate it when someone I don’t like is mad at me). I’d always rather apologize and get things back to normal than have a long drawn out fight. Sometimes it’s not so easy and a come to Jesus meeting is necessary, but if I can avoid that, all the better.

I often wish women could take a cue from men. When guys get in fights, from what I can tell, they have a pretty easy time getting over it. One minute they’re going at it Alex-Karev-and-Jackson-Avery style (read: lots of punching, for you non-Grey’s Anatomy fans out there) and the next they are splitting pizza and beer in front of the football game. For women, and certainly myself included, it’s not nearly as cut and dry. When a friend wrongs us, there are days of brooding, conferring with friends, analyzing and re-analyzing and overanalyzing, and then, if we want to save the friendship, having “the talk.” It’s a production. But you already know this. You’ve been there.

If there’s one thing I can say with some confidence, it’s that this isn’t changing anytime soon. Fighting with friends will continue to take a wretched emotional toll on the ladies. So for now, all I can ask is, how do you win her back? When you and your BFF are in a fight, what do you do to fix the situation?


Filed under The Search

23 responses to “How To Win Her Back

  1. I’d love to hear the answers to that oh-so big question. You’re right Rachel, this topic is so heated and painful and heartbreaking. I’ve been through it and it’s a million times worse than any romantic relationship breakup I’ve ever gone through….I want my best friend back so I’m anxiously waiting to hear great advice from other readers.


    • Suzannah

      just take that first step, go to her, say you are so upset that you hurt her and that she and her son are your priority…admit you handled the situation wrong, wish you could change it but can not…please forgive me..I love you and value your friendship.
      But only if you feel that way…not just to appease her, otherwise you will be right back here again….SOON..

  2. Winning your BFF back is pretty much how you described – a production. I dumped my BFF about 2.5 years ago. Last year, pretty much everything in my life started going to crap, and I was having a really hard time dealing with everything that was happening. I had friends, but not close friends that I could just call up to talk or who would know to invite me out just to get me out of the house and away from my troubles. After a few months of that misery, I realized that I wanted my BFF back in my life. It wasn’t because I needed someone, but everything happening made me see that she had always been a true and loyal friend and was always there for me, and I was an idiot to just throw that away.

    I sent her an email asking if she would be willing to get together to talk sometime, and she accepted. We had dinner, had a really long talk, cried it out, and hugged it out, and we are friends again. We’re not as close as we used to be, which is hard sometimes, but it took a while for us to even get back together, so I can only assume it’ll take a while to build our friendship back up.

    It’s funny that you mention guys here though. My BFF brought me into her circle of friends, so when I left her I lost everyone else too. I had “the talk” with all the girls and it was just as emotional as with my BFF. But when I saw all the guys in our circle for the first time, they all just gave me a hug, said they were glad I was back and didn’t need to talk about anything. Sometimes I really wish we women could be more like that.

    In cases where the other friend did the dumping, I haven’t had as much luck so I have no advice there. I tried to get one of those friends back and she said she’d like to be friends again, but she wasn’t actually committed to trying to repair our friendship, so I just let her go.

    • Anne, it’s really admirable that you decided you made a mistake and took some action to fix it…. Thanks for sharing. It’s an encouraging story I think, even if things aren’t exactly the same.

  3. Noemi

    In all honesty, after reading the backstory on this particular break up, I’m not sure that these two friends can ever be reunited. Even if they are, things will never be the same. While I understand the reason for letting the boys spend time together, I understand the feeling of betrayal felt by the friend with the evil ex. I had something similar happen to me last year.

    After my divorce, I moved away from NY while my ex-husband remained. Last year, he decided to have a birthday party for my son and invited the daughter of one of my best friend’s, as well as my own brother’s daughter. My best friend called and asked how I felt about it. My brother did not. While I was uncomfortable with either of them spending time with the person who had made me miserable for ten years, I knew it was about my son’s birthday. HOWEVER. I have barely spoken to my brother since then because he wasn’t honest about what was going on and didn’t even bother to see how I felt. I felt hurt and betrayed. When I tried to talk to him about how his actions upset me, his response was that he had no problem with my ex because my ex had never done anything to him. We have spoken very rarely since then. Most of us want to know our friends and family have our back. My friend did that by checking in with me, my brother did not.

    A friend (or family member) should be honest about what is going on – especially when it involves an ex who had caused trouble and pain to someone. Had the woman in question mentioned her son’s invite to the friend, perhaps there would have been discomfort for a few days, but it would have worked itself out. But to say nothing and then try to cover it up probably made the friend feel both betrayed and foolish.

    There are times when a friendship cannot be rebuilt. Those times are usually when trust has been broken. I’m sorry to say, this may be how the friend feels in this case.

  4. Wooing back a best friend would be so hard, and I wish I had something illuminating to add to the conversation. I will say this much:

    The times I’ve waited for someone else to do the apologizing and mending, I’ve felt powerless and obsessive. There is so much waiting; so many “if onlys.” But when I step up, fling myself into the void and say, “The choice is yours, but I miss you and want to spend our Saturday afternoons watching bad 80’s movies again,” the world looks a little different. Regardless of the other person’s reciprocation, DOING something to put the relationship back together always feels better than waiting helplessly.

    Make a banner that says “I’m sorry.” Bake a cake that bears a striking resemblance to Regis Philbin to make the other person laugh. The heartbreak of a rejected effort hurts less in the long run than the regret of sitting in silence.

    • Suzannah

      Julie….I wish this post was written about a year ago& you had left that comment about a year ago….I think you wrote something ,I did not know, and wish I had…
      Your advice will go forward with me ,hopefully to pass along, not to remember thru another close friend break up…..
      Thank you, you really spoke to me…

    • Julie… anyone who thought enough to make me a regis philbin cake would win my heart forever.

      I love what you said here. What sage advice

  5. I would agree that braeking up with a BFF can be harder than a romantic partner break up. I broke up with my childhood BFF after 12 years as BFFs. The whole reason why we broke up is still unclear, although it revolved around a guy. Yes, we both agree it was rather stupid, looking back at it. We were fortunate enough to mend our friendship after almost two years of a break.

    What brought us back together? I’m not so sure I could pin-point one thing. I think it may be best to say it was a mix of things: time, growing up (we were college freshman at the time of our break up) living life on sperate paths, making new friends.. it all adds up to our mended friendship; however, not BFFs.

    I am so greatful that we are back together; however, I still find it hard to know that we missed out on two years, probably the two most important years of our lives. And what is even harder is knowing that she has a new BFF. We are not as close as we were during our childhood years. And I find myself jealous more times than I’d like to admit over my childhood BFF having a new and different BFF. Although I am friends with the new BFF as well, it still tugs on my heart when it comes to the typical BFF roles (maid of honor, hosting a baby shower, first person to call in time of need, etc.).

    How do you deal with mending BFFs and being ‘demoted’ to friend rather than BFFs?!

    • Ashley, I totally get that. The feelings of missing out on important years and definitely feeling like I’ve been replaced once I’ve gotten back together with my old BFF. It sucks, and it feels like things will never get back to the way they were, or even anything close to it. It’s been a year since I made up with my old BFF, and I still feel that way, so I don’t know when/if things get better.

      • Thanks for the support Anne. Yes, it was support even if there was no answer. It’s been 4+ years now that the ex BFF and have rekidled our friendship and I still am struggling. At times it feels as if it is making momentum and then the next day it jumps 5 leaps backward. Perhaps it’s because we mentally concentrat on it so much? Then again, caring to much shoudn’t be a crime. And maybe what hurts the most is the feeling of eing ‘replaced’?!

    • Ashley, I can understand this feeling quite well. Although I haven’t broken up with my best friends, I have often experienced a similar jealous feeling when I go back to NYC and see my best friends all together again. They have inside jokes that I don’t get and I feel like I’m missing out on vital years in our lives together just by being far away. It’s hard (especially since I made the choice to move away!) and all I can say is that establishing a life of my own in Chicago has made it a little easier. I still get a little sad about it sometimes, but eventually I assume it becomes the new normal.

  6. Erin

    Well, it’s interesting that you bring up this topic because I had a bff say some pretty nasty things to me a bit over a year ago and that ended our friendship. I think she probably blames me (bc at the time she called me flaky and a bad friend…blah blah) but I stopped calling her bc she was so rude to me and my bf. To make a long story short (bc its all I talk about in my comments) we were both at a mutual friends party at a restaurant on friday night and she was there. Needless to say after several drinks we “reconciled” our differences and, several late text messages later, promised to maybe grab lunch after the holidays. During the evening she kept making references about how we used to be close once and bought me several drinks (that I hope weren’t poisoned 🙂 ). I’m def not holding my breath on the lunch part. I reached out to her and, though she responded at the time, her answers were sorta vague. We haven’t spoken since but she was going out of town the following day so maybe she is just waiting to come back in town….anyways at least now it won’t be awkward when we go to the same parties. My mom and BF think i should leave it alone bc she was so rude to me after I was really there for her (she was trying to get into Med school with us and has had several medical problems). But they don’t understand the need to just squash whatever happened and to move on whether that to be as friends or not. Sorry to drone on I promise I’ll stop now!

    Erin L

    PS–Rachel, when did you start putting a smiley at the top of your blog…it’s cute and tiny. 🙂 EJL

  7. I realized the importance of BFFs last night. I love mine and would never want to let her go. Thanks for another great blog post. I love reading your blog. Your first link appears to be broken. I couldn’t access it. Maybe it’s just me..

  8. Grace

    A couple of years ago, I moved to a new city, and had (and am still having!) a tough time making new, lasting friends. I have a really great core group of friends that will always be there when I need them, but like you Rachel, and many others, they live hours away. This whole situation caused me to really reflect on past friendships, things that went wrong, and what I could do to be a better friend.

    I have had three close female friends ‘dump’ me (1 from high school, 1 early in college, 1 late in college). At the time, I had absolutely no idea what went wrong, and always felt a shot to my ego wondering what was wrong with me. I hadn’t spoken to any of these women in over 5 years, but I decided to get in touch with them to find out. It was sort of embarrassing, and I sort of felt like John Cusack in High Fidelity, but I’m so glad I did it. One of the women I chickened out on asking, because we had struck up friendly conversation on FB. Another gave me a really bitchy response along the lines of ‘it was so long ago and I really don’t remember and it really wasn’t that important anyway.’ This reminded me that she was never really a good friend in the first place, and therefor I wasn’t missing out! The last friend (and the one I really missed the most!) gave me a heart-wrenching explanation. Apparently, she had been going through some personal stuff at the time that she wasn’t ready to face or try to fix. She knew that I was starting to notice, and called her out on it a couple times. Rather than stay living together, she moved out and lived with some girls who she knew would turn their heads the other way. While she didn’t say so, I also realized that perhaps instead of ‘calling her out’, I could have been more supportive and nonjudgmental.

    I guess the moral of my story is that sometimes it just helps to have some closure. I didn’t contact these women and pick up our friendships where they left off, but I don’t feel completely wretched about it anymore.

  9. Jess

    BFF break-ups are so hard! Last year I had a long-distance BFF stop talking to me, for no reason that I could discern. Things seemed fine, there was no argument…but all of a sudden all of my texts and messages were going unreturned. This BFF has never been the most reliable person, so at first I sort of thought it was a temporary glitch in our friendship. But when I finally realized that this was an actual ‘break-up’ and not just a case of ‘too busy to be in touch and keep forgetting to answer your messages’, I was devastated. It really felt like a death, and I was completely overwhelmed with grief. I’m willing to go to great lengths to work things out with people I care about – but when all attempts at communication are met with silence, what can you do? I will never forget how much it hurt to be ditched without an explanation or goodbye.

    But I have forgiven my friend. And over the past year we have started talking again, and have rebuilt our friendship to some extent. I don’t completely trust it, even after all this time, but I see and appreciate the effort my friend is making.

    Thanks for talking about this Rachel – it’s good to know that I’m not the only person who has dealt with this kind of thing! 🙂

  10. Sam

    A few years ago my college BFF moved to the same city where I already lived with most of our friends. I wouldn’t even call her a BFF really- I have several BFFs and she is honestly more like a soulmate- a Christina to my Meredith. Of course I was THRILLED to have her living just a few blocks away, however that shortly changed.
    To keep the story short and simple, I told my BFF that I thought she might do something and if she did it, it would truly hurt me. She told me that I was worried about nothing. Shortly after, I accused her of it in front of all our friends. All of our friends thought I was crazy because it was a serious accusation to make, they knew how close we were, and how great she was. She denied it, and again told me I was wrong. I felt horrible and made many heartfelt apologies about my failure as a friend to trust her. And of course, as my BFF, she told me I was acting crazy but it was okay and she forgave me.
    A few days later my world came crashing down. Not only had my BFF done the one hurtful thing I asked her not to do, she also lied to me and manipulated my feelings. It was the most painful betrayal ever- to know that your BFF had done something knowing beforehand it would hurt you and then lied to you and made you feel like the “bad guy”.
    I pulled an Izzie, but instead of the bathroom floor, I laid in bed for days staring at the wall. The grief was unbearable. She tried to reach out to me, sliding a tear stained apology letter under my apartment door. In return, I burned her a CD of one song: Apologize by One Republic. I was so angry; I asked her to stop contacting me. I didn’t want to hear (or accept) her apology, because I knew letting her speak it would make her feel better, like she was making the effort on her part to repair the damage. It was too little, too late; and I didn’t even want to give her that.
    And so we went silent…..days turned into weeks and then into months. I didn’t forget about her. You can’t forget about a BFF. I spent a lot of time thinking about the whole situation, and I came to one conclusion: I loved her, therefore I would forgive her.
    She was my best friend, and she’s human, not perfect. She had done something that hurt me, but she didn’t do something to hurt me. There was no malicious intent. I had waited until I could truly forgive her and wouldn’t throw it back in her face if I got mad.
    I wish I could say it was hard, but it wasn’t. We slipped quickly back into our BFF ways, where we remain today. I’m sorry for the long story, but I wanted to show that it is possible to reclaim that BFF. There is always hope for a broken friendship if the mutual love is strong enough to mend it.

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