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How to Make Amends With Friends

An Act That Shows a Friend You've Changed

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Learn how to take action on your apology by making amends.

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Making amends is more than just a simple apology. It comes after a big screw up, something that changes your friendship negatively and even has the power to end it. To make amends you must combine a sincere apology with an act that shows your regret and desire to do better.

Why Are Amends So Important?

If you've really broken your friend's trust or behaved in a terrible way, you need to do more than just apologize. While an apology is always the first step, making amends shows your friend that you're really serious.

Whatever it is you choose to do to make amends means that you've:

  • Thought it through thoroughly
  • Made an effort
  • Devoted time to it

The act of amends help show a friend that you're not just giving them lip service, but that you're really sorry and have a desire to change your ways going forward.

When You and a Friend Aren't Speaking

You can still make amends when you aren't speaking with your friend. Use your friendship as inspiration for the right step in which to make amends. There are times when doing an act of volunteerism or giving to a favorite charity in honor of your friend is appropriate, and others when doing something else that signifies your new lease on life is a better option.

If at some point you hope to speak to your friend again, doing something you wouldn't normal do for yourself could let them know you're serious about changing the situation between you two. For example, if your friend works a lot with the elderly, you could begin volunteering at a nursing home or senior center as a way to give back and show your friend that their interests were important to you.

Or if there was a sensitive subject between the two of you (you were always late, you borrowed money you didn't pay back, you betrayed their confidence, etc.), choose a way to make amends that you know your friend would appreciate. Even if you never talk to them again, you can feel good that their influence on your life is being carried out in a positive way.

Making Amends and Addiction

The term "making amends" often refers to the 12-step process, specifically, the ninth step, which says:

"Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

If you're making amends as the result of addiction recovery, it's important to speak directly to your friend about the change you've gone through and that you've taken responsibility for whatever it is you've done.

After your friend has agreed to forgive you, it may also be a time to talk about what you need from your friend in order to stay clean and sober. Each friendship and situation is different, but most recovering addicts need their friend's support (which is different than enabling an addict). If your friend is completely unaware of how to help you stay on a positive course in your life, help educate them.

It should be noted here that part of this step talks about avoiding someone directly if you feel it could "injure them or others" or cause deep emotional trauma for them. Only you know the extent of the things that went on during your friendship, so if you can't see them directly, you can still make amends in some way.

How to Make Amends If You and a Friend Are Still Talking

The times immediately preceding a desire for amends means that you did something very bad to your friend. In some friendships, whatever you did might even be unforgivable to certain people. So it would be understandable for your friend to pull away from you.

If, however, your friend is still interested in talking, be quick about the amends you make. Think about what you did and see if you can ease the situation.

For example, perhaps you continually used your friend, asking for favors and taking advantage. To make amends, you would then go out of your way in driving a friend places, buying lunch occasionally, and making sure you show your friend you are serious about doing better going forward.

Use the issue(s) that caused the rift in your friendship as a guide to determining the appropriate amount of and type of amends.

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