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Friends again: you and a bud are on the outs? Hey, it's the holidays. Give the gift of forgive-and-forget.

She was your pal. Your chosen chica. Your be-there bud. Now? She's not even in your world. It's been weeks, maybe months, since you two had the spat that ended in a split. So what better time than the feel-good season to mend a wounded friendship? Here's how to get back to being buds in a few easy steps....

[STEP 1] Send a shout-out

You could call her cell and say, "Whassup?" But if you two had an all-out fallout, a warm response isn't likely. Cold, hard shock is more like it. Instead of a sneak attack, give your former friend a chance to contemplate the idea of reconnecting.

hoot a friendly e-mail or card that says, "I'd like to see you over break. Are you up for it? "Then, wait. No, not by the phone. She'll need time to absorb this, so give her some space. After a few days, expect one of two things to happen:

* She calls or e-mails you back. In that case, move on to Step 2.

* You don't hear a peep? Sorry, but you'll have to let it go. Unless ... Has it been so long since you two spoke that her e-mail may have changed? If so, double-check the address with a reliable source, and repeat Step 1 with correct contact info.

[STEP 2] Break on through

She's made counter contact, so set up a meet-and-greet. Yes, seeing her might feel awkward at first. But shake it off and briefly pretend there was never a bust-up. Ask how she's been, tell her about your weird Aunt Mildred stashing rolls in her purse at Thanksgiving. You know, rebuild the rapport. Don't launch right into any big issues that need to be resolved. Just have some fun time and, when the moment is right, say, "It's great seeing you. We need to talk, so let's get together again and discuss it, OK?"

* You owe her an apology? Read Step 3.

* If she owes you an apology, see Step 4.

* Neither of you even remembers what the whole argument was about? Go straight to Step 5.

[STEP 3] Sayin' sorry

Whether you spilled her secret, kissed her crush or swiped her autographed Diary of Alicia Keys CD, you screwed up. So serve up a sincere "I'm sorry." Meet your friend at a neutral spot, maybe the library courtyard or corner bakery. Spit it out--as in, apologize. And mean it! You miss her, right? Tell her that, too.

* OK, apology accepted. She even hugged you. Tight. No hard feelings, so no need to beat the issue to death. Go to Step 5.

* The ice is broken, but things are still on shaky ground? Read Step 4.

[STEP 4] Talk it out

It's tough, but you and your pal need a heart-to-heart to move past the hurt. Without being combative, set best-bud boundaries. Like, agree to never let a guy affect your friendship, or promise to be pals who don't "borrow" each other's stuff. Think of it as a problem that needs a creative solution--and come up with one, amicably. On to the final step....

[STEP 5] Get back in the groove

There's nothing greater than a diehard friendship, but be warned: It's easy to fall back into unhealthy relationship habits, so stay alert. Be mutually respectful and, if either of you starts to slip, catch it before it blows up. If you two are true-blue, before long you'll feel like you were never even apart. Now, give each other pats on the back. Instead of Good-bye Girls, you're Back2gether Buds.
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Title Annotation:Friends
Author:White, Kelly
Publication:Girls' Life
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:BFF Dilemma of the month.
Next Article:Twinkle toes.

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