How Do I Fix a Broken Relationship?

Most of us aren’t relationship gurus who know the exact path to a healthy relationship. For that matter, even gurus base their relationship advice on broad assumptions and inferences from what they’ve seen or studied about in psychology books. A rare few teach from personal experience but those experiences are unique to them and may not help everyone. So, how do we arrive at a rational set of tips to fix broken relationships when there’s very little out there?

While there’s no exact science to fixing a broken relationship, there is plenty of common-sense and anecdotal evidence that supports some approaches over others. Such advice about how to heal a broken relationship with a lover, spouse, friend, or even a family member can be invaluable because it is universal. It’s invaluable because you can take it and mold it into something that works for you, hence the broadness of its nature as well as its appeal. You already know these things, which is why the rest of this article is more of a reflection about what you know deep inside rather than about eye-opening concepts. But if your eyes suddenly open, all the better!

Communicate

Rule #1 in any type of relationship is to keep the lines of communication open or open them up if needs be. If there is no communication, there can be no meaningful relationship. Period. There’s no way around this. Of course, the type of communication doesn’t always have to be verbal, either, although that helps quite a bit. In certain cases, though, all it takes is a look and some body language to get the conversation going. In fact, a lot of our verbal face-to-face conversations are heavily complemented by body language, tone, and other verbal cues.

If you’re in a broken relationship where the lines of communication are still open but maybe terse or perfunctory, you’re already ahead! On the other hand, if you’re not speaking to each other for some reason, it’s a little harder to light the conversation spark. That doesn’t mean there’s no chance there; it merely means you’ll have to use other methods of communication in order to get things started again.

Act – Actions Speak Louder

Although communication is the first step, action often precedes it. It’s almost like a preamble to the constitution. Every constitution has a preamble, which sets the tone and conveys the purpose of what’s to come. Although the preamble always preceded the constitution, the latter is more substantial and specific. In fact, it is laid out as clearly as possible to avoid legal misinterpretation.

Action and communication have a similar association when you’re trying to fix a broken relationship. If communication has come to a standstill, the best way to revive it is to first set the tone and convey the purpose of what’s to come. The communication that follows must then be as clear and straightforward as possible; no egos, no digs at the past, nothing. Just clean and well-intentioned communication.

So, what type of action can you use to set the tone for communication to resume? That’s up to you, of course, but make sure it’s something that triggers an emotion. That’s the crucial part. It can be a thoughtful act, a meaningful gift, a problem you handled for them, etc. What you want is an action that can set off a chain reaction of positive emotions that eventually lead to the lines of communication opening up again.

In a long-distance relationship, this is a lot harder to do because of the physical distance. But there are ways to get around that. As an example, if you’re looking to rekindle a long-distance love that sort of fizzled out, a simple “hey there” text might be good enough to get the conversation going again. On the other hand, if the reason the relationship is broken is that you messed up in some way, it’s going to take a lot more, like maybe actually trying to remember their birthday this time and sending a gift!

Active Participation

This is the next logical step in fixing a broken relationship with a long-distance lover, assuming you took the action required to start communicating, of course. This time around, don’t make the mistakes you did the last time. You may have been insensitive or not attentive enough, or maybe you just started taking the relationship for granted, as is very often the case when you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time.

Never forget that love is not a passive thing; it is a highly energetic and active emotion – and one that merits a like amount of effort from both sides. If your relationship broke because the kind of love you gave (or received) was passive (well, we’re together, aren’t we?), then it’s time for a reality check. Even if the fault was not your own, remember that you’re the one that wants to get back together. That’s why it’s crucial to really think about whether you want to fix the relationship in the first place, and what you want out of it. It’s time to be a little selfish and ask the old WIIFM question: what’s in it for me?

Even more importantly, do you know if that’s what he or she wants as well? You don’t want to be stuck in a one-sided relationship. There’s no give without take and vice versa. If it isn’t a two-way street, it’s very likely just infatuation on one side and toleration on the other. I know that’s a very harsh way to put it, but that’s all the more reason why you need to be sure that this isn’t what’s happening with the two of you.

But if you’re clear about what you want and you know for certain that the other person wants it, too, then your path – or course of action – will be equally clear. This time, it’s up to you to make the relationship work, but you’ll have all the help you need.

Conclusion – or the Beginning?

Frankly speaking, that’s basically all the advice you need. Act, communicate and keep the action part going. You can fix nearly any broken relationship with just these three guiding principles. This is how countries reconcile with each other; it is how broken marriages are fixed; it is also how friends-turned-enemies become friends-for-life. How you interpret them is what ultimately matters because you’re the one who’s going to execute the steps. Everything else is just talk.

Remember what I said at the beginning about the ideas here being universal? That’s exactly what they are. Apply them to fix a broken relationship with a long-distance lover or apply them with a belligerent boss – the effect is much the same.

If you choose therapy or professional advice over plain horse sense, I can’t stop you. And I won’t even try. But all you really need is this simple common-sense formula of Act –> Communicate –> Actively Participate to fix a broken relationship or even create a healthy relationship out of one that you may be struggling with at the moment.

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