How to Talk to Your Friends When You're in a Fight

Drama. Gossip. It can be entertaining when you’re not involved, but when it’s affecting your own friendships, it can be truly disheartening. Unfortunately, even as we get older, conflicts still erupt from time to time with friends. You may be worried because you don't want to lose your friend  because of the fight, but you also want to hold your ground and defend yourself. Even the healthiest relationships are affected by drama, so stay calm and follow these tips to surviving a fight with a friend without completely wrecking your relationship.

1. Spend some time apart

People disagree and make mistakes; we’re human and it happens. The best thing to do is to take a step back from the fight and recollect your feelings and thoughts. Dig deep into why you might be fighting instead of what the fight is actually about. Fights can bring up rage and anger, but reflecting on other aspects of your life can make you realize there’s a deeper explanation for your conflict. You or your friend may be feeling jealous or inadequate, or perhaps your friend is insecure about the declining time you’ve spent together. Maybe they’re jealous of your success, or you’re taking out your anger from work out on them. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to find the root cause of conflict and work from there. During this time, you may realize the fight was not worth arguing about after all.

Emma, a sophomore from Lehigh University, says "My friend and I were having more fights than usual in the span of a few weeks and I started to think we were going to drift apart for good. We spent more time apart and during this time I realized we were both extremely stressed from other factors like school and work so we were just taking anger out on each other."

Emma's experience with taking a step back in a friendship highlights the fact that not all fights are the be-all-end-all of relationships. Evaluating what may be causing the issues in the first place can help alleviate the tension in the long run.

2. Ask your friend to meet

This may be a difficult task if you’re not on speaking terms, but you should reach out once you feel level-headed and ready to talk through your emotions to reconnect. It may be a rocky start, but it’s worth it in the end if you get your friend back. They probably miss you as well and don’t want the stress of this to affect their life anymore.

Send your pal a text suggesting to meet up in a coffee shop or another favorite spot of yours. Picking a public place will also help discourage any yelling while discussing the fight and instead foster open communication and listening to the other party's perspective.

If your friend turns down the idea of meeting up, they may not be ready to face you in light of the events. Give them some more time to consider your proposition and say that you are ready to talk about it whenever they are. Mention that you'd like to put things in the past if possible. By explaining the reason you'd like to see them face to face they may be more inclined to say yes. If they're still reluctant for a meetup, ask if a phone call would be easier and more convenient. Try to avoid sending long texts, however, because your tone and emotion may be misconstrued

3. Calmly explain how you've been feeling

Once you're able to meet them in person, you're now able to share how you felt and why you'd like to move forward. Plan on what you'd like to say to your friend so you don't forget to bring up something important such as a boundary you may want to establish so these fights don't happen in the future. Also, practice what you'd like to say so you don't get too overwhelmed or nervous in the actual moment!

Don’t attack your friend and immediately list all of their shortcomings once you sit down together. Explain how you felt during the fight and how you feel now. Giving background information about what was going through your head will allow your friend to empathize with you and see things from your perspective. After this, allow them to share their emotions as well. Molly*, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, says “My friend let me down repeatedly and there was a lot of built-up resentment over time. I finally cracked and told her how I felt, it was very difficult but I’m so glad I did it.” Molly confronted her friend about how she was feeling so they could build back trust and understanding in the relationship. She felt better afterward, and so will you. 

4. Recognize when you have to apologize 

Having a healthy relationship with someone means that both people should be taking some responsibility no matter how small or silly the fight. If you’re able to put your pride aside and apologize, it shows that you care more about the relationship itself than winning the argument, and that’s huge. It’s fine if you still don’t agree about the argument itself, but you can apologize for how you made the other person feel. No one wants to make their friends feel like crap. Both people should be owning up to what they’ve done.

5. Move forward

Sometimes relationships can never move forward from fights because friends get too caught up in the nitty gritty of who said what and what happened then. If you truly mean an apology, then moving forward should be easy. Put the fight to rest, catch up with your bestie and start doing life together again. Life is way to too short for grudges and bad vibes.

But this also means you may have to move away from a friendship. Taylor*, a junior from Lehigh University, says “Unfortunately, my friend was never able to apologize to me after I said sorry to her. I don’t even remember what we were fighting about at this point, but I remember how she made me feel and she could never admit to her mistakes. We’re not friends anymore but I learned a lot about myself and how I should be treated moving forward.” Sometimes moving forward means saying goodbye to a friend, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can decide who you want in your life so stay true to yourself like Taylor had when you feel like something just isn’t right.

Fights can be petty and hurtful, but they’re inevitable throughout life. However, silent treatments and grudges don’t have to be forever if both you and your friend reflect on what’s really going on. Using this tips will help you to have healthy relationships and better conflict resolution in the future. Good luck!