Although it’s easy to keep track of your friends on social media, you may lose touch in your 20s. You might find that someone you used to be able to talk to every day, despite all the career changes, milestones and other life events, hasn’t texted or called you in over a year. It can be hard to find the right way to reconnect with old friends, but it is incredibly rewarding to bring someone you love back to your life.
The goal is to put your former friend at ease, and a big part of that will involve trying not to exaggerate what happened between the two of you.
“Keep it simple, especially if you’re short on time and haven’t talked in a while,” Jenn DeWall, a life and career coach for millennials, tells Bustle.
Send a simple text or email with a ‘hi’ and a ‘note to think about you. It doesn’t need to be complicated. People are simply happy that you reached out! After you have reached out, you can make plans or a sentimental gesture.
2. Be direct
Honesty is the most important thing. It’s likely that there will be awkward moments, even if it’s been awhile. But your friend deserves your honesty and candor. Caleb Backe, a health and wellness coach, says that if you had a strong friendship, then be honest. Don’t be afraid of addressing the problem as it is. Let them know you are thinking of them and that you want to check on how they are doing. This can show genuine care and help them to know that you are interested in reuniting with them as friends, not as strangers. Most of the time, losing contact was a two way street. You may not have heard back from them for a while but you still haven’t reached them.
“Assume it,” Wiercyski says. “Acknowledge that you haven’t been in touch for a while and just ask if they’re interested in getting together …. Then, when you do get together, if the situation is a little awkward, ask them open-ended questions. This will take the pressure off you and make them feel good because they can talk about themselves and the great things they’ve done.” No one should be blamed for losing touch, but you shouldn’t avoid the situation either. Honor the fact that life beat you to it, and it will be easier to move forward together.
3. Make plans
People don’t like to hear “let’s go for a coffee”, when they know that it means “let’s not talk again for one year”. It can be rude, even though it may seem polite. What if you mean it?
“A genuine “let’s go for coffee!“ DeWall says that this is followed immediately by setting a time, date and place. It’s unlikely that you will have coffee with someone if you don’t establish a date. These plans will help you plan for the next stage of your friendship.
Once you have made arrangements, be sure to make your friend feel at ease. Wiercyski advises to keep it casual. It can be as easy as going for a cup of coffee or happy hour. It is important to keep the ratio at 1:1. It’s easy for someone to feel anxious if they haven’t been in touch for a while, and then you invite them on a date with all your friends. It may be a good idea to invite someone to a specific activity if you are trying to reconnect with someone you haven’t seen for years. If you have a great time, plan for your next outing. It’s important to book brunch at least a week in advance.
4. Try slow mail
After you have made the initial contact with your friend, you can show that you care by showing your friend you are willing to put in extra effort. Send a card. Mail involves special attention. DeWall states that handwritten notes have more meaning than texting.
A card allows you to write any thoughts or memories that are not normal. It also makes it feel real and authentic. It’s also much less expensive than gifting a gift.
5. Make them laugh
Long-time friends are known for their ability to make you laugh. If it has been awhile, you can return the favor. DeWall suggests sending them a funny or lighthearted text or meme. “Make them laugh!” Who wouldn’t love to be able to share our happiness with those we love? It’s okay to lose touch if there is no resentment.
DeWall states that the biggest difference between losing contact and losing friends is how easy it can be to pick up from where you left off. If you are still friends, the conversation is easy and you will both be happier after the exchange. You can even tag them in the comments and start a conversation about what makes you smile. This is more personal and increases your chances of them sending you something back.
6. Fix serious problems
Being a good friend to someone you’ve lost touch with also means not being afraid to have difficult conversations. While you can share drinks and laughter, the friendship won’t really return to where it started if you don’t address the serious issues you both have. “It can go wrong if you’ve grown apart because of an argument or misunderstanding and the issue still hasn’t been resolved and one (or both) of you is still harboring resentment,” DeWall says. “To avoid this, be sure to address the issues and not sweep them under the rug. The conversation can be kind and loving, of course, but it should be direct.
“Forget any judgment about what caused the break in contact. That’s life,” says Wiercyski. You and your friend both deserve it.
7. Consider what has changed
It is unhealthy and foolish to act as though nothing has happened. It is okay to reflect on what has happened and help you decide if your friendship can be sustained. According to Heidi McBain (a licensed marriage and family therapist), “Depending on the time passed, you may have changed.” You should take this into consideration and be curious about your ex-friend’s transformation.
Reactions and emotions can range from mild to severe. Wiercyski states that “[Reconnecting] may bring up old wounds and feelings of regret.” If you have gone through a major change in your life such as a move or other significant life changes, reconnecting might make you regret your decision. It is possible to feel inferior and compare yourself with others. It can be difficult to see the positives in your friend’s life, even if they have been extremely successful. These feelings are not something you should avoid. Just know that they can be felt and have a plan for how to handle them.
Reconnecting with old friends can make you feel great. Let go of all the pressure and focus on the joy. Wiercyski advises that you don’t expect to reunite or force your friendship back to its former glory. It may feel like old times. However, it may be more comfortable or less awkward. Without expectations, you can honor the relationship without pressure by getting together. It is not better to live your life fearing losing touch with a friend you love than to reach out and risk an awkward encounter over coffee. Your friendship deserves to evolve. It might take some effort.