We Go Way Back
Reconnect with yourself by reconnecting with friends from the past
When you look back on your life, it’s likely that you cherish memories of a close friend that you haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe one or both of you moved far away, and you lost contact. Maybe life simply became busier for both of you, so you haven’t talked in a while. After years of separation, is it really worth the effort to reconnect with a long lost friend? Elizabeth Hill Arredondo, a counselor with Atascocita Counseling Associates in Houston, states, “Old friends know a part of you with whom you may have lost touch. They may know a younger you who was more carefree, inspired, or romantic. Wouldn’t you like to get to know that you again?”
Whatever the reason you fell out of contact with an old friend, it’s possible that you now realize how important they have been to you, and you want that them back in your life. There’s no time like the present to reach out to them, start fresh, and renew meaningful friendships.
Even if you genuinely want to reconnect with a friend that meant a lot to you in the past, you may still fear initiating contact with them. “People fear, more than anything, that they will be judged,” says Arredondo. “They fear an old friend will think either that they aren’t as attractive or successful as they are, or that they aren’t as attractive or successful as they used to be. Those fears usually go unconfirmed. In fact, we’ve all had failures and successes, losses and gains, and are relieved to know we are not the only one.” Giving into unfounded fears could mean losing the opportunity to laugh with and receive support from a true friend.
Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn make locating and contacting a person as easy as doing a simple search. Even if finding them does prove more difficult—for instance, if the person moved or changed their name after marriage, just to name a few scenarios—ask a mutual friend or a school alumni association or reunion committee how you might find them. If all else fails, try Google.
Once they are found, the challenge is breaking the ice in a casual, low-stress way. Try sending a brief message to remind them of your favorite memory, ask about their journey, their family, their career. Express that you have sincerely missed them. If you are both comfortable and live locally, you might suggest meeting in person for coffee or dinner to reminisce and catch up.
What’s great about renewing friendships with old friends isn’t just that you can remember the “good old times,” it’s also that you can create some “good old times together” in the present. Once you’ve reconnected and found that you can enrich each other’s lives, make new memories. More informally, on Facebook or other social media sites you can like or comment on their status updates or posts to show your interest in their present life. If appropriate, invite them into your current life by introducing them to your family, attending an event like a concert together, or planning trips or more consistent outings together.
“Old friends and family members are the people who can best help you understand who you have become … they also can affirm you in ways nobody else can. They know your enduring character and personality traits,” Arredondo says.
No matter how long it has been neglected, a genuine friendship is worth dusting off and restoring.
Long Distance Friendships: How to Stay Close When You’re Far Apart
- Send Facebook messages or comments
- Talk via Facetime or Skype
- Call them
- Email back and forth
- Text inside jokes
- Send birthday and holiday cards
- Share old and new photos
- Navigate a trip through or to their city for a visit
- Plan a trip together
- Watch a movie you both loved at the same time “together”
Topics of Conversation with an Old Friend
- Reminisce about specific happy or funny memories.
- Share something you learned from them.
- Tell them how much they mean to you.
- Ask about their parents, siblings, or other family members you knew when you were close.
- Ask about their own family now (e.g., spouse, children).
- Update them about your family members.
- Ask about a goal or dream they mentioned in the past that they wanted to accomplish.
- Share your career progression, highlights, and low points, and ask about theirs.
By Lacey Kupfer Wulf