Offending a Friend: How to Recover?

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I can be a very blunt person. I am not obnoxious, and I do have tact when necessary. But when I am with those I care about, I feel I can be completely honest. It is only with my closest friends and confidants that I can truly expose my inner thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Sometimes, though, I am too blunt even for them.

At dinner the other night, I seriously offended a friend of mine. We were talking about her personal life and I asked a probing question, believing that in our bubble of honesty, she would understand. What I said touched a serious nerve. She immediately stopped talking and folded her hands in her lap, refusing to make eye contact with me. I felt awful, even if I did think she was being a bit sensitive. The question is what to do when we have offended one of our close friends. How do we recover and mend the friendship?

I very much value my close girl friends. Good friends are rare. And it is difficult to know what types of strategies are best with each individual person. How do you garner back one’s favor? At what point do you realize that certain subjects are off limits? How much of your offense is merely the other person being defensive? Navigating the nuances of friendship is an art I am still learning and will probably be working on until the day I die.

The first step is to obviously apologize. But how much of an apology is too much or not enough? I immediately apologized for hurting her feelings and attempted to explain my thought process so that she understood I was not intentionally trying to be rude. I probably said too much to her. I have never been good at knowing when to stop apologizing. Is a simple “I’m sorry” really enough to smooth the waters?

If the friend does not seem to immediately respond to said apology, give them space. Don’t run off from the table, but certainly change the subject and do not bring it up again. After the engagement is over, let them contact you first. This is the advice I have been given by other friends. But at what point is your friend avoiding you or will they feel like you are avoiding them? Us girls are odd creatures. We constantly analyze and overanalyze. Even the most grown up adult women turn into the worst hormone driven teenage girls over silly spats.

But the worst situation is when you have offended a friend and are completely oblivious to the fact. There you are going about your business and suddenly your friend stops talking to you or starts acting passive aggressive. Many a friendship has been ruined by someone not politely and lovingly speaking up. So please ladies, do speak up. Apologize when necessary and remember to forgive. If that doesn’t work, a muffin basket normally helps.



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