Do you have a hard time keeping in touch with people? Perhaps time has passed by and you’re unsure whether you should reach out again. Perhaps you drifted apart because one of you moved away, or a global pandemic shifted the dynamic of the friendship and prevented you from spending time together in person.
It can be tough to see someone who you grew up with and shared your secrets, slowly become a stranger. Sometimes, people are only meant to be in your life for a season. Other times, the friendship requires a little more effort to get back on track.
“You don't lose friends, because real friends can never be lost. You lose people masquerading as friends, and you're better for it.” - Mandy Hale
Here’s the good news - it’s not too late, and you’re not alone. Studies have shown that beyond the age of 25, most people tend to start narrowing down their friendship group, with women losing them at a faster rate than men. Mending a broken friendship can be challenging, but it can be very rewarding. The trick is intentionality in resolving those neglected friendships.
Keep reading to find ways to rekindle a broken or drifting friendship...
First, prioritize yourself.
Before we even begin, it’s important to establish that all external relationships first begin with a healthy level of self-awareness, and putting yourself first. If you are prone to giving more than receiving, ask yourself - is this a friendship worth pursuing in the first place? Are you always the one initiating conversations and meetups? Why do you think the drift occurred? Was it due to circumstances out of your control, or did the relationship feel one-sided? Maybe even exhausting? Think back to how you felt when you were with that person. If this is a friendship that you deem worth salvaging, keep reading.
Remember the details and stay curious
Think back to the last time someone reached out to you out of the blue. Was it because they needed a favour from you, or because they genuinely wanted to catch up because they valued you as a person? Chances are, the latter group are the ones you want to rekindle a connection with.
The questions you ask someone that you’ve had a falling out with is a little different from those you are getting to know for the first time. To shift beyond the “How have you been?”, you could get the conversation started by leading with something you already know about them. For example, you could:
• Mention something that reminded you of them, and reminisce about a fun memory you had together
• Check back in on the most recent topic of conversation you can remember
• Be honest and acknowledge that it’s been a while, but remain curious and understand that people change over time
Above all, listen intently with the purpose of understanding with a deeper level of intuition.
Lead into self-disclosure
Conversation is not a one-way street, and re-building a connection takes time and vulnerability on both ends. “Self-disclosure” is a term in psychology that refers to “a process of communication by which one person reveals information about himself or herself to another.” By opening up to someone by sharing something closer to your heart, you are showing vulnerability which can help foster that lost emotional connection.
Rekindling an old or broken friendship can be an incredible feeling, but don’t feel too discouraged if things aren’t exactly the way they used to be. The disappointment of drifting apart from someone who used to be very close can often feel like losing a part of yourself, but you may be surprised at what might happen when you take the chance!