Friends are essential in life. They make you feel loved and accepted. They also make hardships more bearable because you know that you have someone who will be there for you no matter what. Friendships double your joy and enrich your life in many ways.
While having friends offer all these tremendous benefits, friendships are sometimes challenging to maintain. Your best buddy may take a back seat while you are raising a family or caring for aging parents. Perhaps you and your friends argued over something and didn’t get the chance to iron it out immediately. Or maybe you moved somewhere else and eventually lost touch with friends.
If you have a dear friend that you haven’t seen and talked with for many years, know that it is never too late to rekindle a lost friendship.
However, you cannot merely wait for things to happen. The least you can do is try and reach out to them. When you are ready to reconnect with an old friend, keep the following helpful tips in mind:
1. Opt to Meet in Person to Rebuild Friendship
Although pressing the “like” button or commenting on your friend’s social media posts is a good start to make your presence felt, it is best to meet in person if you have serious intentions of rebuilding the friendship. This way, you can talk freely about how you feel without the risk of being misinterpreted or taken out of context.
You can send a text message or make a phone call to invite them for coffee or lunch. Make your invitation brief and direct to the point—save the long conversation for later. Tell your friend that you have been thinking about them lately, so you mustered up the courage to get in touch.
And that you would love to meet in person if they are interested. Do not forget to suggest a specific time and place so that your friend knows that you sincerely intend to make the reunion happen.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
The thought of spending time with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long while can be very exciting, but you should understand that it does not automatically change everything. Remember that a significant amount of time has passed and that people change. One meeting is not enough to go back to being best friends.
Meet your friend with realistic expectations. No matter how many memories you shared in the past, catching up after several years can be awkward and a bit uncomfortable at first. Acknowledge the feeling and accept that it is part of the process. Otherwise, you might end up frustrated and disappointed.
3. Lay All Your Cards on the Table
When you finally meet up, try to be honest about your feelings at the get-go. Exchange awkward hellos and lay your cards on the table. There is no point beating around the bush and prolonging the agony. If you know that you are the one who caused the falling-out, make a sincere apology.
Perhaps you weren’t there to offer words of encouragement for sobriety when your friend entered rehab for an alcohol problem, or you failed to show up during similarly challenging times. If so, acknowledge your shortcomings without making any excuses. Although you can provide an explanation for what happened, you shouldn’t let that become a justification for your mistake.
Tell your friend how much you regret your actions and that you still care for them. More importantly, do not expect or ask for an apology even if the other person hurt you in the past as well. Keep in mind that you are hoping to reconnect, not play the blaming game.
4. Make a Decision
It is worth noting that you cannot rebuild an old friendship alone, no matter how much you want to make it happen. The relationship will only work if both of you are willing to learn from the past and agree to make an effort to do better moving forward.
That said, try to listen to your friend and observe their demeanor so you can decide whether to stay in touch or say goodbye permanently after your first meeting. Ponder if the connection is still there and worth giving another try.
5. Be Patient
If you choose to stick around and give your friendship another chance, be patient and manage your expectations.
Again, you cannot expect to become close friends instantly as all good things require time and effort. Let your bond deepen naturally without any pressure. You should also be open to the possibility that your relationship is not going to be the same as it was before.
Should you decide to let the friendship go once and for all because it seems like the best decision for the both of you, accept the fact graciously. After all, not every friend is meant to stay beside you throughout your life. Take your coffee or lunch date as a much-needed closure. Thank the person for the good memories and wish them well.
A long-lasting friendship does not happen by chance. It takes effort and commitment to develop and sustain. It is the same with repairing a lost relationship with an old friend. You cannot expect things to work out eventually while you do nothing. If you believe that the friendship is worth saving, you need to take the risk, reach out, and do the necessary work.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.