Reader K. N. writes:

I had a huge fight with a friend a while ago. We both said some pretty awful things, blocked each other on Facebook, and went through a lot of other drama that I’m sure our other friends didn’t appreciate. Today I was going through some old pictures on Facebook, and I kind of miss her. Am I just being sentimental, or is it time to forgive and forget?

Dear K.N.:

There isn’t a statute of limitations on grudges. Some people hold them for life; others forget about them easily. It all depends on who you were fighting with in the first place and how much pride you have.

It sounds to me like you’re over it. If you’re capable of “missing” your friend, I think you’re ready to overlook the fight, regardless of who started it or what it was over, and be friends again.

The big question is: does she feel the same way?

And moreover, how are you going to go about finding that out?

The biggest part of holding a grudge is pride. People who aren’t terribly proud don’t hold grudges. You’ve apparently got a bit of pride in you, or you wouldn’t have been angry this long in the first place. Luckily, your pride isn’t completely keeping you from moving on. How prideful is your (former) friend? Is she still angry about the whole thing?

You can gauge this in several ways.

sea lions fighting

Do sea lions hold grudges? Image: Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First, check with mutual friends. She may have been talking to them about you, especially if she’s over it. If she hasn’t been, you could ask them to bring you up in conversation and see how she reacts. If she shrugs her shoulders or changes the subject, she might be willing to reconcile, although it’s still dicey. If she spits on the ground and curses you, it’s probably not the right time. You can certainly forgive and forget in this case; just don’t hope for any luncheon dates with her anytime soon.

You could skip the intermediary, of course, and just ask her yourself. The best way to get through a grudge is just to admit wrongdoing on your part, not accuse her of any on her own, and apologize, regardless of how wrong you think you were.

A very kind (but arguably sissy) gesture would be to write her a letter. People don’t write letters these days very often, so sending her an apology card with a brief note that says you’d like to bury the hatchet shows you really care. And you were willing to spend 44 cents on a stamp! Amazing!

An email would serve this purpose just as well, although it doesn’t speak the volumes as much as the formality of the mailed letter. Still, you should keep it short and apologetic rather than accusatory. Be the bigger wo(man) and simply say that you miss her and you feel that you were wrong.

Is there a little voice going off in your head right now? Is it saying, “NO WAY JOSE, she was wrong and I was right”? That’s your pride speaking. And if your pride is saying things like that, you’re not ready to get over this and you’re just being sentimental.

But if you’re ready to apologize, really apologize, even if you still don’t think you did anything wrong, this could work out well.

Under no circumstances would I suggest a face-to-face confrontation here. This is one of those instances where being a sissy works. You want to think out your words, and edit them, until they will be impossible (or at least very difficult) to misconstrue. If you approach her physically, you’re just opening up the opportunity to have another fight before you even get a chance to say what you mean.

Of course, if she’s not ready to forgive you, it’s not going to work out, anyway. Still, the act of forgiving is a great release, even if the object of your forgiveness doesn’t believe she needs forgiving or doesn’t accept your forgiveness. You can at least know that you gave it an effort, and the grudge ball will be in her court. Furthermore, you’re not telling her that you forgive her in this case — you’re asking her to forgive you. Do the forgiving whether she asks for it or not, and move on.

Frankly, I think if we stopped carrying around our petty grievances, we’d all be a lot lighter for it. So I say hop to it, and forgive and forget, even if you can’t repatch the friendship.

1 Response to “forgiveness”

  1. 1 Melisa
    December 16, 2010 at 10:10 am

    There is also another outcome which is the position I’m in with a former friend of mine. We had a falling out and when the time came when she missed me and wanted to be friends again, I wasn’t interested. Not that I’m still angry or hold a grudge, I just have no interest in being friends with her and I don’t miss her. I’m better off without her in my life and there isn’t a thing I can think of to say to her. She is just a non-issue. It doesn’t mean I hate her but sometimes friendships are just over and that’s ok

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