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Breach of faith is the third topic in our series of articles on problems with friends

30. July 2017 - Alexander Schmidt

Breach of Faith: 3 Common Problems With Friends And How You Solve Them


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Even in the best friendships there can be quarrels, misunderstandings and problems. Especially unpleasant for all involved: a massive breach of faith. Here is our advice on how you can still save the friendship.

This article is No. 3 in our series on problems with friends. So far, we’ve already covered envy and competitiveness.

Problem #3 – Breach of Faith Between Friends

Your best friend has blurted out a super private secret that you had only confided in her…. Your mate lies to you about why he supposedly doesn’t have time for you and then you catch him with other friends…. You entrust your flat to a friend while you are away – and afterwards everything is dirty and some things are broken…

For all these situations it is true: a friend abuses and loses the trust that another has placed in him. And such a breach of faith hurts like hell! First of all, it hurts the one who has placed the trust in the other(s). Often the trust-breakers only realise afterwards what they have done to the friendship. And then it is also bad for them.

In short, a breach of faith between friends is a serious problem that can lead to the end of a friendship. Depending on how serious the breach of faith was, how insightful the person who committed it is and how well the other friend can forgive him or her for it. How can the problem be solved and a friendship saved even after a major breach of faith?

The Path to a Solution

As with many problems with friends, there are two main things that help to work through and resolve a breach of faith: Self-reflection and communication.

Self-reflection of the Victim

Even if in many cases it seems clear who is to blame – even the friend whose trust has been violated would do well to do some introspection and reflection before discussing or even hastily ending the friendship.

  • Was the other person really quite sure that he was committing a breach of faith with his behaviour?
  • Did I clearly tell her/him not to tell anyone about fact XY?
  • What could have been the other person’s motive for the breach of faith? Was it perhaps “well-intentioned” in the end?
  • Maybe my friend was in a moral dilemma – e.g. between loyalty to me and honesty towards her/his partner? How would I have acted in this situation?
  • Are there any circumstances that explain or even partially excuse the behaviour of the other person?
  • And the most important question: Can I (ever) forgive her/him for this breach of faith?

If the answer to the last question is a clear no, then unfortunately there is little hope for your friendship and it is probably better for both of you to avoid each other from now on. In the case of very serious breaches of trust, this is quite understandable, but then the friendship obviously wasn’t worth that much, because anyone who secretly gets into bed with their best friend’s partner, for example, seems to have no respect for friendship at all.

But much more common than such cinematic jealousy dramas and breaches of faith of the nastiest kind are the small breaches of faith that hurt a friendship like crazy but can be healed.

Self-reflection of the Offender

The very person who has committed one should, of course, reflect a fortiori on what has happened.

  • Why did I actually do what I did?
  • Was the friendship simply not important to me at that moment or did I rather repress how shitty my behaviour is for friend/ XY?
  • Maybe she/he doesn’t know about certain circumstances that forced me to act the way I did, or at least made it seem more understandable? How can I best explain this to her/him?
  • Can I do better? And what can I do to regain her/his trust?
  • How do I best apologise and how do I make up for the consequences of my actions, as far as that goes?

Communication – The Clarifying Conversation After a Breach of Faith

For all more serious problems with friends, it is only possible to sort them out if both sides are willing to do so. Especially in the case of a breach of faith, at least one person’s feelings are very hurt at first and it may take a while before he or she is even willing to talk to the person who broke the trust. The latter should therefore allow the hurt friend the time he/she needs. And use this time to do some soul-searching and come up with a really good apology, explanation and reparation.

If it finally comes to a discussion, then both should think carefully about what they want to say to the other beforehand. It is also very important to listen to the other person and not get too emotional, otherwise what was meant to be a clarification of the problem can quickly lead to its deepening. Sometimes it makes sense to bring in a third party who is equally respected by both sides as a mediator, e.g. a mutual friend.

Of course, it is clearly up to the person who has violated the trust to take the first step and apologise honestly. This also applies if there may have been excusing circumstances that contributed to it. For it shows the friend whose trust has now been disturbed that the other person is genuinely sorry for what happened and never wanted it to happen that way.

Conversely, however, the friend whose trust has been abused should also be able to accept an apology and an offer to make amends (if possible). And also give the friend the chance to explain himself, to present things from his point of view. Because even if this cannot simply undo the breach of faith, a discussion is the best chance to preserve the friendship.

Friendship, love and spending leisure time together with the people who are important to us: these are the big themes on Abenteuer Freundschaft. On the ideas portal you will find many tips for more quality time through special activities with friends, as a couple and with children.

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