Laura Donovan
July 14, 2014 7:14 am

Early adulthood is full of up and downs, and how you handle the low points speaks volumes about your character. I’ve always considered myself a standup, approachable friend, but when I experience setbacks, I’m significantly less friendly to those I value most.

Over the past year, I’ve switched coasts, changed industries and made the bold attempt to start fresh at 25. Perhaps 50-year-old me will look back and laugh at the fact that I thought 25 was too old for a clean slate, but life seemed to tell me otherwise, and I spent many nights ignoring text messages from friends or snapping at them for daring ask how the job hunt was treating me. I told myself I needed to wallow and fume on my own, but this only pushed people I loved away, and I regret responding to difficult life events in such an isolating, thoughtless manner.

At some point or other, we all fall into the “bad friend” category. Maybe we stop talking to friends whose professional and/or personal lives are thriving or just don’t do our part to keep the friendship alive. You can definitely come back from being a lousy friend. Here’s how to make it up to your buds.

1. Make the first move

Send your friend an email or text message for no reason at all. You might think this is weird if you two haven’t communicated in a while, but once the ice is broken, you guys can catch up. Make sure to ask about how she’s doing, so she knows you’re genuinely interested in what’s been going in her life.

2. Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry

I’ve been through a really bad friend fight before, and the only way to patch things up was to swallow my pride and apologize. If you stopped talking for whatever reason, you both probably harbor negative feelings and emotions, but chances are, she’s had some time to think about the situation at hand and better understand your side. You might just have to be the one to make the first move, and that’s OK. There’s no room for pride in friendship and love. Own up to the unfortunate things you’ve done and move forward from there.

3. Offer to take her out

Once again, ask lots of questions (i.e. “How’s work? Everything good with your boyfriend? Any family updates or news?”) when you’re finally together to show you’ve been thinking about her life. You don’t have to take her to some big fancy dinner or bar, but planning a get-together proves you’re taking initiative and working to strengthen and repair your relationship. Go the extra mile, but mostly just show your friend that you care.

4. Write her a letter

If real repairs are needed, sometimes it’s best to write down what you’re feeling. Once you recognize you’ve been a lousy friend, try to share why you’ve been less-than-awesome in an email or letter. It’s similar to apologizing, but you’re also providing an explanation so your friend can see your side and have some insight into your behavior. She’ll know you weren’t being surly just to be surly, but because something was really bugging you and you couldn’t verbalize the issue when it surfaced.

5. Show up at a special event and make her day

If your friend is a comedian, go to one of her standup or improv shows. If she’s a writer and has an upcoming reading, make sure you’ve got front row seats for the event. If she has a family gathering she’d rather not go to alone, offer to accompany her. You may or may not like the experience, but she’ll really appreciate that you were there for her when she needed it this time around.

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