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Before you can fix a broken relationship, you have to know the nature of it. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely because you’re in a situation where your relationship with someone is strained—maybe even beyond repair ... or so it seems.
But much like we distinguish between physical and mental illness, there is a difference between a broken relationship and one that needs healing.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Broken Relationship?
- 2 How to Fix a Broken Relationship
- 3 Final Words on Fixing a Broken Relationship
What is a Broken Relationship?
Evidence of a broken relationship includes:
- Disagreement or conflict that has escalated to the point of being unable to resolve it.
- Anger, bitterness or resentment between individuals that has been allowed to fester for too long.
- Inability to work with others in achieving common goals because of interpersonal problems.
-An inability to trust or share with those around you.
The above represents but a few examples of an impaired connection between people.
Relationships can be broken in many ways. A broken relationship could mean that a romantic relationship is over, or it could mean that the relationship between two friends has ended.
Broken relationships aren’t necessarily those that consist of people who never speak to each other; both parties may be around, but the bonds between them are gone.
A broken relationship can occur with people who live together, people who work together, or even with friends or family members who have regular contact.
What makes a relationship broken is when both parties agree that there is no way for them to continue to interact in a positive way. Such situations can occur when one member of a romantic or family partnership has been unfaithful or when one person has been verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive toward the other.
But there are a myriad of ways that lead to separation, and may become permanent when talking through a problem is non-existent or ineffective.
What’s important to remember is that while a broken relationship may be easier to identify than it is to fix, it’s not impossible to repair—all you need are some guidelines and strategies for how to proceed.
How to Fix a Broken Relationship
“Problems in relationships occur because each person is concentrating on what is missing in the other person.” – Wayne Dyer
In order to fix a broken relationship, note the following strategies:
1) Understand how the damage occurred.
There are many circumstances that can cause a rift between two friends or family members, but there are three main reasons people cite when you ask them why they’re not on speaking terms with someone.
The person did something wrong (intentionally or unintentionally), said something hurtful, or they unfairly held a grudge. Here’s an example of how each of these situations plays out.
If someone did something wrong: If someone has done something wrong, make sure that they know that what they’ve done is offensive to you and make certain they understand how their actions have negatively affected your life.
If you can’t talk to them directly about their behavior, you might try writing them a letter detailing your feelings. It’s also good to write a synopsis of the events leading up to the rift in your relationship, so the offending party has some context for what you’re upset about.
Wait and see if any response ensues.
If someone has said something wrong - One of the most common reasons that relationships between individuals and groups go sour is that one individual says something to another (or a group of people says something to another group) out of anger or frustration, without thinking about how their words will be taken by their audience.
It might be an insult, or a threat. It could be something that hurts someone’s feelings or makes them feel demeaned. Words are like dynamite; they’re powerful, but they can seriously damage a relationship if misused—even if the speaker didn’t intend to use them in such a way.
The way damage occurs is that a person is subjected to some sort of stimuli that causes them to feel offended or even humiliated. That feeling alone is enough to break a relationship, but it’s what happens next that causes the damage to become permanent.
If a person doesn’t address the issue and doesn’t tell their partner that they have been hurt by what has been said, then the partner will never get the chance to apologize and make things right.
Grudges unfairly held - Grudges, assumptions, and unspoken doubts are rarely discussed out in the open. That makes them even more difficult to resolve.
So when your relationship becomes fractured, you need to foster a dialogue between the two of you about what’s bothering both of you, and how you can reconcile your differences.
2) Take responsibility for your role in causing the damage.
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship, friendship, or family situation, it’s always important to take responsibility for your role in the relationship's breakdown.
It’s easy to point the accusatory finger at the other person when things go wrong, but self-reflection is necessary if relationship repair is possible.
There are many reasons a relationship can break down—and you can play a part in each of them. You might have cheated on someone or lied to them about something; maybe you didn’t show up when they needed you most; maybe you were just too passive-aggressive with them and never communicated openly.
The list goes on and on, but ultimately, it comes down to this: at some point, we all make decisions that negatively affect our relationships.
However, we are all human beings who deserve compassion and understanding from others—including ourselves! So instead of wallowing in regret (or worse, projecting onto others), try taking some time out of each day to analyze your past behavior and how it may have contributed to the breakdown of your current relationship(s).
After all, we build relationships on honesty and trust—two things that require insightful reflection on our own actions,
3) Listen to what the other person has to say about the problem.
If you want to fix your relationship, one of the most important things you can do is to listen.
It doesn’t matter how upset or angry you are—listen first. Listen for understanding and meaning behind what the other person is saying. Do not be dismissive or defensive; open up and let them speak without interruption.
It’s not always easy to listen to what the other person has to say about the problem, but it’s really important. When you listen attentively before responding, even repeating or echoing the other person’s sentiments, you’re opening up communication and constructive dialogue.
You might not agree with everything they have to say, but by listening first—and letting them know that you’ve heard them—you’ll be able to hear their side of the story and start working toward a solution together.
4) Make amends for any wrongs you have done.
You must take responsibility for any wrongdoing on your part. If possible, apologize and take responsibility for your mistake. If you were at fault take steps to make it right as soon as possible. Don’t let pride get in your way—it’s not worth it. Moreover, forgive yourself for any error in judgement.
Don’t make excuses for your behavior or expect forgiveness without remorse or repentance. If there is genuine regret on your part for hurting someone, then recognize that forgiveness is a possibility and take steps toward making amends with that person.
If there is no way to remedy the transgression, then you need to show the other person that you’re committed to making a change, so it never happens again,
It’s important to recognize that most people want a healthy relationship, so if you’re truly sorry for your actions, chances are you’ll be able to find a way back into your partner’s good graces.
Even if they’re not interested in getting back together right away, they may come around someday, and when they do, the first thing they’ll think of is how much more effort you put into salvaging things than others would have.
If the other person has committed a wrong against you, embrace forgiveness. Some people believe forgiveness is a weakness, but in reality, it’s one of the strongest and most empowering feelings you can have.
It helps you let go of anger, anguish, and resentment. It sets you free from the pain of holding on to bad feelings for too long and offers the conduit for relationship reconnection to take place.
By breaking any cycle of negative interaction, rebuilding the relationship is possible.
5) Commit to continue to work on your relationship with the person.
Commitment to working on your relationship can be as simple as setting aside a time to talk about how things are going and what you can do to improve them. It may mean scheduling times to spend together, or it may mean agreeing not to bring in outside influences that might affect your relationship negatively.
It’s up to the two of you to decide what needs to be done and how you’re going to work on it, but remember that every relationship is different. If your relationship has been broken for a long time, it can feel like there’s no way back, but if you’re both committed and willing to talk, there’s no limit to the positive things you can do together.
6) Be willing to share honest communication nd compromise from now on.
Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a business partnership, there are steps you can take to improve an existing bond. For example, if there’s something causing tension in your relationship, don’t ignore it. It’s better to acknowledge that the problem exists and talk about it openly with your partner.
Always be on the lookout for times when you’re feeling frustrated or upset with your partner. If you keep the issue bottled up inside, you risk letting it fester until it becomes too big to handle.
Instead, tell your mate how you feel about the situation and suggest ways that he or she might want to change. You might also need to try as well; if your partner feels like you’re not willing to compromise on certain issues, he or she won’t be eager to work out conflicts either.
The best way to avoid arguments is by being open and honest with each other. Once you’ve identified areas where one of you wants more freedom while the other wants more commitment, start talking about what both of you are willing to do in order to meet in the middle. Remember that there are often solutions other than insisting that only your way will work.
As long as both partners will make some sacrifices and keep each other in the loop, a relationship may not only survive but thrive.
7) Enjoy time together.
Once the situation has been defused, it’s important to take care of any lost trust. How can you make up for the fact that you were at odds with each other for a time? Start by spending regular time together, doing fun and relaxing things. Shared happy moments will solidify bonds.
Mutual enjoyable experiences will reinforce the feelings of closeness that you used to have in your relationship, and will make it easier to continue building your friendship or romantic bond. Once you’ve reestablished a certain level of rapport, you’ll be able to work together again toward even better days ahead.
Does Space Help a Broken Relationship?
Whether you’re looking to mend a relationship with a family member or a coworker, space is suitable for the soul.
It can act as a cooling-off period and give people the chance to reflect on past actions and gain a new perspective. If you’ve just experienced a breakup—whether it be with a significant other, friend or your boss—distance can help you heal faster.
Without the day-to-day interaction that comes with spending all of your time together, you’ll be able to clearly see what went wrong and why, without having to read too much into each other’s words and actions.
Remember: Space doesn’t have to mean no contact at all, but it means that you both need to maintain communication in whatever way feels best for both parties.
By talking about what happened and what the future holds for each of you without seeing each other every day, it may give you the space to move forward from this point in your lives and rekindle your relationship when the time seems right.
It’s possible that this time apart will be exactly what your relationship needs to get back on track—or maybe it will be a reminder of why it wasn’t meant to be. Either way, distance gives both sides room to breathe and reflect.
How do You Rebuild a Relationship When Trust is Broken?
Trust is the glue that holds a relationship together. Once broken, it’s incredibly difficult to mend and few relationships survive an irreparable breach.
When trust in a relationship is broken, it can feel like the end. You may feel betrayed and wonder if you can ever trust that person again.
When you’re feeling this way, it’s important to remember that trust is a choice. While the other person’s behavior may have caused you to lose trust, the choice of whether to trust them again is up to you.
If you choose to forgive them and move forward, there are steps you can take to help rebuild your relationship so that it can be better than before.
Here are some tips for building back trust in your relationship:
- Be honest with yourself about how important this relationship is to you. If it’s really important, then you’ll put in the work to rebuild the trust.
- Understand that trust building can be a time-consuming process. While it takes a moment to break trust, it can take quite a while to rebuild it.
- Each partner must acknowledge responsibility and do their best not to repeat similar errors in judgement.
- Demonstrate consistent love and respect in the relationship, and don’t be afraid to ask what the other person needs, wants, or expects.
- If trust still seems elusive after repeated attempts to reestablish it, consider couples therapy. A clinical psychologist can offer insightful perspective.
Sample Message to Fix a Broken Relationship
I’m reaching out to you, hoping that you forgive me in the context of our once close relationship and understand that I am truly sorry for my actions.
I know that my actions have hurt you, and that it is difficult for you to see me as anything other than an enemy now.
That is why I am writing this letter: so that you can know how much I regret what I did and how badly it has affected me. But it's your rightfully frayed emotions that trouble me the most.
I have been struggling with my feelings since the incident occurred, and they have only gotten worse as each day passes.
It is hard for me to live with myself knowing that I caused another person so much pain—and even more difficult knowing that it was someone who meant so much to me.
Please know that I am deeply sorry for hurting both of us in such a way and please accept my apology as sincere.
I hope we can reconnect and rebuild the trust between us as I will never undermine it again.
Is the Relationship Worth Salvaging?
“You can’t just give up on someone just because the situation is not ideal. Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They’re great because both people care about the other person to find a way to make it work.” -Unknown
Foremost, make sure your relationship is worth fixing. The best way to do this is to take a close look at the person. How important are they in your life? Are they family? Do you see yourself with them in the future? Would you be willing to take the risk of staying?
Taking an objective approach to this process will also help you decide whether you want to repair the damage that has been done by becoming more sensitive to how the other person feels.
Think about how your actions have affected them and ask for their perspective on this matter. Communication is key, but so is knowing when to let things go. Don’t force someone to change their behavior.
If the relationship isn’t working, it probably won’t be anytime soon. Seeking counseling from a neutral party might help, but there’s no shame in calling it quits if it’s clear that nothing can be done.
This is especially true if you find yourself lost in an endless cycle of miserable drama where you feel the other person does not have your best interests at heart, and vice versa.
Final Words on Fixing a Broken Relationship
Sometimes relationships fall apart. The factors that lead to their demise vary from couple to couple, but all relationships require maintenance.
Relationships are always in flux—there are many high moments, but a downward spiral can spin out of control and destroy a relationship.
What can you do to fix any relationship? No matter the circumstances, put in the work and effort. The quicker you act to change your course, the more likely you are to improve your situation.
I’ve highlighted several strategies to use when your relationship is in peril or seems irreparably damaged.
But you can more conveniently think of damage control as a three-step process: 1) Be honest with yourself about what went wrong and what needs to change; 2) Communicate your feelings and desires openly and honestly with your partner; 3) Learn from the experience and not make the same mistake twice while taking time out each day to rebuild trust and rapport with your friend or partner.
One last caveat: if there’s one thing that’s more difficult than working on yourself, it’s working on someone else. In order for a friendship or family relationship to be repaired, all parties involved need to give it their best effort and do what they can to repair the damage and make things right.
Assuming everyone aligns with the same goal (i.e., repairing the relationship), the result can be positive and your partnership can grow stronger than ever after it has been rebuilt.