Finding Peace in an Exploded Friendship: How to Offer an Apology That Works

After the friendship exploded, as we discussed in the previous post, I wondered, “How could something so positive turn so hurtful?”

She would unintentionally do something that hurt me and I would respond defensively and hurt her.  Neither of us intended the slights but the spiral continued into complete estrangement.


Photo by enggul

Photo by enggul


I was talking with mutual friend a few weeks ago, who truly is like a sister,   when she asked me what happened.  I described it briefly and she responded, “Doug, you hurt her.”

I said, “Geez, thanks for the empathy.  But you’re right.”


I realized I needed to apologize to stop the war, but how?


I decided to call her on the phone.  A face to face was probably more than either of us could handle.

I had no expectations other than to say I was sorry.

So I called her one afternoon at her office.  I simply said, “May I talk with you privately for two minutes?

She warily agreed.

“I’m calling to apologize for where I’ve hurt you.  I never intended to.  I’m not sure how it all started and I’m willing to discuss it further if you ever want to.  But there’s no pressure.  And I hope, in time, that perhaps we may be friends again.”

She responded, “I’m surprised.  I’m not sure what to say.  But thank you for the call.  We’ll see each other around so who knows perhaps in time.”

And that was all.

Yet, frankly, it was enough.  I found peace again and the shooting stopped.


Paul writes, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18)


We won’t be friends with everyone but we can live in peace with most.


Do you find yourself in the midst of a friendship battle right now?  If not today I’m guessing you have.

What once you treasured has turned into a nightmare.

And as you ponder it you seethe.  Sure you’ve retaliated but they started it and share more of the blame.

Perhaps, but you suffer the pain.


Maybe it’s time to stop the war.


This step is not about restoring the relationship.  That may or may not ever come.

But it is about bringing peace to yourself and hopefully the relationship.

It begins when we stop keeping score and instead decide to take the first step by apologizing for our side.

But a few things to think about before you do that I’ve found helpful.

First, offer the apology in person or on the phone not in an email or note.  You need to hear each other’s voice.  Tension is high so it lets you correct further misunderstandings before they escalate.

Second, make it unconditional.  Don’t assign blame to the other person.  Don’t excuse your actions.  Simply own your part and leave it at that.

Third, don’t ask for or expect any reciprocal action.  That takes a while usually.  Some people aren’t able to ever offer it.

Peace in your soul and the hurt cycle stopped is enough reward.  Reconciliation my not ever come.

Be happy to have peace again.  It’s enough for now.

But how do we get the courage and stop hurting long enough to reach out?  We’ll discuss that next.


When have you suffered a broken friendship and decided to apologize for your side of it?  What happened?