• Keeping Friends

Reconnecting with old friends after a long hiatus

December 25, 2015 | By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
A young woman asks for advice about reconnecting with old friends after a long hiatus when she returns to her hometown.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I’m 27 years old and due to relocation for college and post-college, I lost touch with some old friends. These were friends I had made in high school and the early years of college.

I haven’t spoken to one of these friends for about five years, but we were best friends at one point. Another for about eight years—but we used to be best childhood friends. Another, I wasn’t always very close with but I recently saw her at a wedding and had a nice conversation.

I’m going home for the holidays in about a month and a half, and I would like to catch up with these girls. Will it be awkward? Is this just something I’m going to have to get used to, as I get older, that people often go years without talking? Is this normal? I miss some of these girls I used to be so close to!

Any advice you could give would be great. I’m not sure how to approach them.

Signed, Lisa

ANSWER

Hi Lisa,

After high school, it’s common for people to move in different directions as they relocate to attend college and/or graduate school or to pursue new career opportunities. This is also a time of rapid growth and change for young adults. While some people maintain relationships with friends from the past, other times, distance and life circumstances get in the way.

If you have lost contact with these friends, your extended visit to your hometown will offer a convenient opportunity to reconnect.

My advice:

-Some of your friends may be involved in other things and not even be interested in getting together.

-Some might have changed from when you knew them. Their lifestyles and interests may have become very discrepant from yours. You may have little in common except for your past.

-There may be one or two friends with whom you reconnect instantly, almost as if the friendship hasn’t skipped a beat.

If you temper your expectations, you won’t be disappointed and may be pleasantly surprised. If you’re rejected, don’t take rejection too personally. It may have more to do with the other person and his/her life circumstances than it does with you.

A few practical tips:

-Try to give your friends as much advance notice of your visit as possible. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean that they are.

-Tell one or more of them you’ll be in town and would love to get together for coffee or lunch. Since so many years have elapsed, it should make for relatively easy conversation as you catch up with each other’s lives.

-Keep the visits time-limited so no one feels pressured. If you really hit it off, you can extend the length of an initial get-together with a friend or arrange to see him/her again.

Hope this helps! Would love to hear how your visit goes.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (8)

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  1. Jared says:

    “Some of your friends may be involved in other things and not even be interested in getting together.”

    This made me pause. In my book, if someone doesn’t have “interest” in getting together, they’re not a real friend. Real friends MAKE time and FIND interest in hanging out with you. It may not be on a regular basis, but if years go by, the answer is that they’re not a real friend. Exceptions exist, of course, but they are few and far between. It should NEVER be a regular occurrence to have friends that don’t make time or have interest in hanging out with you.

    This issue used to drive me crazy until I discovered that many people will refer to me as their “friend” out of being polite rather than true friendship. People would introduce me as their friend when they really meant acquaintance.

    I agree with Ben that your feelings may not be reciprocated. It’s a sad part of life, but just like we might love someone who doesn’t love us, friendship is the same.

    • SusieQ says:

      I experience the same thing. People referring to you as a friend when really you are an acquaintance. It use to confuse me because I’d think of them as a friend, make time for them, kept in contact etc only to watch their behaviour…it was that of an acquaintance. It saves me a lot of heart ache to put them in the same category. Thanks for mentioning that distinction.

      I think it’s worth trying if Lisa wants to reconnect. She can judge peoples actions to see if they are in line with the words. People change and perhaps over time have come to value how important real friendship is. I’m still hoping.

      • Jared says:

        SusieQ, thanks for replying. It’s nice to know someone else experienced this as well.

        I’ve had to learn a lot of things over the years when it comes to social interactions. For example, when someone introduces me to others as their “friend,” they may just be acting polite. It doesn’t mean they want me to contact them or hang out again.

        Another thing: when someone says, “we should do this or that,” they may not mean it. It might be wishful thinking. It doesn’t mean they want to make a concrete plan.

        The most important thing I’ve learned is that real friends will make some time for you. It’s not fulfilling to be the only person invested in a relationship. Whether it’s romantic or platonic, it has to be a two-way street.

  2. SusieQ says:

    I just recently reconnected with an old friend. I always did the maintaining of relationships and once I stopped…the other person never picked up her end so like many of my “friendships” they don’t exist any more. But, I did decide to try again with this one friend and I shared my feelings about being the only one who calls etc and it made a difference with us. I got to spend Christmas with her and her family instead of all alone as usual. So, take it nice and easy and go for it.

  3. Amy F says:

    Reconnecting with old friends can be so life affirming. I’ve reconnected with formerly close classmates after hiatuses of over 20 years and it felt like no time or distance had passed. I also recently reconnected with a non school friend of almost that long and we cleared up why we lost touch. The love and affection is still strong, although we not in the same way as when we were in our 20s and 30s.
    -Invite with an open heart.
    -Realize they may have plans over the holiday so if they can’t squeeze you in, don’t take that personally
    -Expect the visits may feel superficial as “reunions” sometimes are
    -Keep you expectations realistic, you may have grown in different directions or you may remember why you haven’t stayed in touch
    -DO NOT try to impress, that will be s big turn off or your friend night feel inadequate comparing herself to you.
    -Jusf be yourself

  4. Ben says:

    It’s totally normal to feel affinity for someone, just realize that those feelings are your own. It would be nice if everyone felt the same way we do for someone, but the reality is they don’t. We all live in our own skin. Feeling love or connection toward someone is a good thing. Compassion is a great quality. Whether or not the other person feels the same or reacts the way you want doesn’t diminish the way you feel. Be prepared that those feelings you feel are not shared by others. Sad but true!!!

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