It is an unfortunate fact of life that friends often drift away. People move, make new friends, get into fights, or become interested in other things, and friendships often fade as a result. However, there is often very little in the way of resuming a happy friendship if you take the time to reach out.
[Edit]Reconnecting with Old Friends
- Think about why you drifted apart. There are a lot of reasons why people lose friendships, from distance and time to conflicting schedules or changing interests. You need to spend some time examining what caused you to drift apart so that you can find ways to remedy the issue. If, for example, one of you moved across the country, you may not be able to become best friends again easily. But you can still have a meaningful friendship using email, Skype, and phone calls.
- Make contact with a brief note or call. Don’t feel like you need to catch up with each other instantly. Take the time to send a quick message to your friend with your contact info and tell them you would love to talk sometime.
- Don’t feel like you need to fill them in on your life now — save this conversation for when you meet later.
- Talk on the phone or exchange emails to restart conversation. If you live far away and cannot meet anytime soon, spend some time with each other online or on the phone. The best way to build or rebuild a friendship is to talk.
- Open up about your life first. You don’t have to get into all of your secrets, but giving a quick update on your life makes your friend more likely to share things about him or herself. Friendships rely on trust, and you need to let them know that they can still trust you with information and details about their life. The best way to do this is to show that you still trust them with your own stories.
- Move beyond surface conversation to talk about things that matter to you, like your life and work. Friends usually talk about much more than the weather.
- Set up a time to meet in person. Think of an activity you both enjoy doing together, and arrange to meet up. A light, casual, one-on-one meeting is the best chance to get to know each other again and rekindle the friendship without pressure to be “besties” immediately.
- Try to limit this first meeting to 1-2 hours — the goal is simply to reconnect with each other.
- Start slowly. Don’t try to rush right back into “best-friends” territory. Have realistic expectations for this first conversation, especially if the last time you talked was 8 months ago or if you ended on bad terms. Have a friendly, open tone as you ask what they’ve been doing and how they’ve been. If things go well, you can begin to get into deeper, more involved conversations.
- Continue making time for your old friends. Relationships—romantic or otherwise—take time and energy to maintain. If you reach out and reconnect, then quickly disappear off the face of the earth again, chances are you won’t be able to rekindle your friendship. Schedule times to meet or talk, ask how they are doing, and find ways to include them in your life to truly reconnect.
- Meet for drinks once a week.
- Invite them to parties or events with “new” friends.
- Send letters or emails with details from your life from time to time.
[Edit]Moving on After a Fight
- Remember what caused your falling out. Why did you stop being friends? Did you get into a fight about money, business, or relationships, or did constant bickering drive you apart? Think not only about the fight, but about your place in it. What have you learned since then, and how have you changed? If you don’t take the time to at least think about the problems in your friendship, you will not be able to get over them.
- Start with small, non-confrontational meetings. Ask to meet your friend in a public place so that there is no pressure to get personal right off the bat. A cup of coffee, a walk in the park, or drinks after work are all nice, low-key ways to meet someone and test the waters for rekindling a friendship.
- Your first meeting should be a chance to talk and catch up, so give yourself time and space to chat.
- At this stage you are trying to feel out their emotions and see if you can still be friends. Don’t come into the meeting with expectations or an agenda.
- Start the conversation by catching up casually. Don’t feel like you need to dive into the bad blood between you right off the bat. If they’ve agreed to meet you, then they want to move on just like you do. Take some time to remember why you were friends in the first place by catching up about work, life, spouses, or hobbies.
- Apologize for your faults in the fight. This is often the best way to approach the subject, but it doesn’t have to be a bent-knee confession. You can begin with something as simple as “I’m sorry for how I acted last time we hung out.” This starts the process of moving past your conflicts and rebuilding your friendship.
- Avoid pointing fingers at the other person. Even if you think your fight was their fault, blaming your friend will only make reconciliation more difficult. Many things may have changed since you last saw each other, and it is unfair to meet with someone just to accuse them. Have a conversation, not an inquisition.
- Work through your conflicts, even if they are difficult. If there are still hard feelings, don’t be afraid to address them. You were friends for a reason, and given the right amount of maturity, there should be no reason why you can’t be friends again. Use “I” statements, like: “I felt (this) when (this happened)” or “Looking back, I feel like (this) because of (this).” When you use this method, you’re able to express your feelings without accusation, and you let your friend know your true feelings.
- Make it known that you would like to resume the friendship. Make a point towards the end of the meeting to set up another time to hang out. While you don’t have to have a set date in mind, saying, “it’s been great to catch up, I’d love to meet again soon,” tells someone that you are serious about rekindling your friendship.
- Take things slow at first. You do not have to become best friends again the minute you see one another. Work on your issues together, and keep meeting once every few weeks until you feel that your concerns have been addressed. If you feel that you’ve been wronged, and that your friend is ignoring the conflict or refusing to change, then you may be headed toward another falling-out.
- That said: if you feel like you’ve both moved on and feel comfortable, then don’t avoid each other. Congratulate yourself on successfully mending your relationship, and enjoy your rediscovered bond.
[Edit]Preventing Relationships from Falling Apart
- Talk to each other once or twice a month. Talking is the best way to keep a friendship alive and stay in someone’s mind. Make time in your day to catch up with old friends so that you have things to talk about when you meet up again.
- Don’t feel like you need to share everything or talk once a week. Simply taking an hour every now and then to chat is often all you need to do to keep a friendship alive.
- Remember big occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries. Sending a card or message to someone on their birthday shows them that you still value their friendship. Even a quick note to celebrate an old anniversary, like the day you graduated together or started your first road-trip, can bring up shared memories that keep your friendship alive.
- Build trust with each other. Best friends remain friends because they have a bond of trust that can sustain time and distance. This means sharing secrets, fears, and worries, and knowing that you will get good, honest advice in return. It also means keeping the secrets and stories of your friend to yourself. No matter how far away you are, you should feel like your friend has your back, and you should have theirs.
- Help your friend out when they are in need. Even a kind, considerate note can be enough to help someone in a tough spot. Good friends are there when the going gets tough, even if they haven’t talked in several months. Offer to help with problems, support them in hard times, and show that you are a friend in the bad times as well as the good.
- Don’t act too eager to rekindle your friendship. It has to be a gradual process.
- Your friend may not want to rekindle your relationship. In this case, it is best to politely move on instead of trying to convince them otherwise.