Rapprochement is a French word that means, “an establishing or restoring of a close, harmonious or sympathetic relationship.”
The word is typically used in connection with foreign diplomacy, as in two countries seek a rapprochement after rift, war or prolonged suspension of relations.
It’s a smooth-sounding word, a noun rife with connotations of potentially positive outcomes, such as healing, understanding, a viable new friendship, or at least a steady peace.
Rapprochement is very much on my mind these days as I assay possible methods of initiating it with lost friends or possible methods that lost friends might employ initiating it with me. Will these initiatives come in the following weeks, months, years or decades…or never come at all? I have no idea.
What should be the goal of a rapprochement? Should there even be a stated one or should it all just unfold without an agenda, demands or expectations? Does the issue that instigated the war, rift or suspension of relations need to be addressed in the process? Perhaps. Maybe it all begins by asking “How are you?”
I don’t know. There are no diplomatic protocols for matters of the heart, at least that’s what poets say. We go on guts and hearts and intuitions and perhaps not what a paid therapist, talk show host, or conventional wisdom advises or dictates. Anger and blame don’t seem to be productive emotions when attempting to initiate rapprochement. A failed rapprochement, I think, is better than not trying at all.
Rapprochement can initiate from one side, the other side, both sides at once, or with the diplomatic skill of a neutral or vested third part. But someone has to make the first move and that is the hardest part.
A month ago, a crucial friend in my past life initiated what I think she thought was rapprochement. I didn’t know what it was because of its detached clinical tone so I didn’t respond. I will one day because she is special to me, she did reach out, and I must honor that effort. (I did, later, and never heard from her again. I might add she’s a professional therapist.)
How does one initiate rapprochement with someone who was formerly dear to them but whose relationship was destroyed by known, unknown, imposed, self inflicted, misunderstood, conniving, maligning, state-sponsored, or independent zealous forces?
I don’t know. This is all new territory for me and I have made mistakes in navigating it. I will doubtless make many more.
In my recent experience, I would say the best way to initiate rapprochement is with face-to-face communication. All wars ultimately must end that way, with peace accords signed with a real pen on real parchment. Yes, face-to-face is undoubtedly the best. There is nothing I can add to that except real face-to-face means you have to move your body, walk across the street, drive across town, travel a hundred miles, traverse an ocean.
An email of decent length works pretty well, but it’s still a bit formless and lacks something, at least to me, that is corporeal.
A phone call is a superb method. Voices are important to hear. There is feeling and nuance in them. There is listening. There is asking and answering in complete sentences. There is the sound of humans forgiving one another and accepting responsibility. There is the sound of swallowing pride and moving forward into new terrain of more formidable friendship and leaving behind the previous flimsy ground.
A handwritten letter is an incredible method of rapprochement. I received one not too long ago and it instantly changed my life and provided hope. More handwritten letters! They’re the ultimate in encryption.
Cards induce smiles and tears. More cards. Cards, cards, cards. Old cheesy Hallmark cards with fat fonts and groovy line illustrations!
A text message seems inadequate to initiate rapprochement, although one could argue it’s better than nothing. A drunken text message late at night is a disaster. A post on social media means ?
I am sure others have employed successful methods of ingenious rapprochement in their lives that I failed to mention here. Whatever it takes to annihilate the whatever. Employ any method at your disposal. Then follow through. I know that works both ways, too.