Revive a Friendship

Whether from lifestyle adjustment, conflict, or the development of different interests, everyone experiences a friendship fade from time to time. Maybe you’ve come around and want to see an old disagreement resolved, or simply want to diminish the distance that has crept between you and an old friend. Fortunately, there are clear and constructive steps you can take to indicate your interest in reconnecting and begin the process of revitalizing a friendship.


Conveying Your Hope to Revive a Friendship

  1. Take the first step. Don’t wait for your friend to reach out. If you want to reconnect, make yourself available, either by reaching out or by inviting your friend to meet with you. A phone call or an email are quick, easy, and respectful ways to convey your interest to speak or spend time together. However, you should consider your options regarding how to reach out.
  2. Reach out in the right way. Depending on the degree to which you’ve grown apart, there are different recommended routes to take. The depth of your previous friendship, and the context in which you drifted apart are important factors when considering how you should approach an old friend.[1]
    • If you simply haven’t seen or spoken with someone in a while, reach out casually. A message on an online media platform that you both use may work. An email is better because it is a more reliable and secure method of communication. People also tend to check their email more frequently.
    • Consider sending a letter. If you had gone through a conflict with your friend, be wary of rekindling old animosities. Take care not to make them feel as though they are under pressure to respond. Don’t just call someone you had a falling out with; this may make them feel uncomfortable or may even upset them. A note or card gives them time to think and contemplate a response.
    • Do more than just text. While texting is great way to convey information of send a quick hello, it is not a productive method to rekindle a relationship. If you feel your relationship is casual and comfortable enough to contact a friend via text but you haven’t spoken in a while, give them a call. The more personal approach will indicate your interest to truly reconnect.
  3. Don’t worry about how long it’s been. Don’t feel as though your friendship has ended or become less important. Friendships often change when people get married, move, or have kids. If you’re missing an old friend, there’s a good chance your friend misses you as well. It is always appropriate to try to reconnect.
    • Recognize the importance of circumstances. If you had drifted apart because your friend went through a major life change, and you recently went through a similar life change, you may soon find you have even more in common now than ever before![1]
    • Don’t wait any longer! The more time you spend missing your friend without acting on it, the further you may drift apart. Know that it’s okay if you haven’t spoken with someone in a while. You may actually make their day by letting them know you’ve been thinking about them and would like to reconnect.
  4. Be persistent, but not over-eager. If your friend doesn’t respond, or does so hesitantly, you can try to convey your hopes to reconnect again. Don’t rush though. Allow time in between contact. If they simply don’t respond, accept the fact that they may not be ready or willing to reconnect for the foreseeable future.[1]

Getting Together with a Friend After Time Apart

  1. Keep your first (re)meeting short. Know that the present is not the past. Your friend may have changed substantially. Don’t expect them to be the person they were when you were closer.
    • Holding expectations about someone else affects the way you feel about them, which is unfair to them and may lead to unwarranted expectations about the potential to rekindle your friendship.
    • Meet for coffee or lunch instead of going out at night together. This will allow each of you to interact more casually, with less assumptions or expectations about the meeting.[1]
  2. Apologize. If you have something to apologize for, do so as soon as you are able. Be completely honest. Know that your friend may still be experiencing some negative emotions about whatever happened between you, and that negative emotions may even arise for you upon meeting up with your friend again.
    • If you were at fault for something that led to a conflict, even only partially, accept that fault.
    • Tell your friend that you’re willing to put the past behind you, and that you’re willing to speak about whatever happened if they’d like to do so.[2]
    • Try something like, "Hey, George, I'm really sorry about that argument we had. Want to catch a beverage together someday soon and catch up?"
    • Try, "Sally, you know, I've felt really bad about the way I acted a while back. I'm so sorry. I’d like to get together again sometime, if you’re interested."
  3. Listen and Respect. You should always be respectful when interacting with other people, and all the more when interacting with friends. One of the surest ways to indicate that you respect someone is by listening intently during conversation. In order to understand what a friend is feeling or thinking, try to consider your friendship from their perspective.[3]
    • Practice active listening. Especially during meaningful conversations, make sure to follow these tips to help you listen intently:[4]
      • Summarize what it seems like the other person is saying when you are unsure.
      • Encourage your friend to continue with short prompts such as “Then?” or “Oh!?”
      • Use “I” statements when responding. Reflect about what the other person is saying out loud, by beginning with, “I feel like…”
      • If something is unclear, ask them to expand upon a point you don’t understand.
  4. Recall fond memories. Whatever the context of your friendship now, you undoubtedly have positive memories from experiences you shared together in the past. Recall some of the enjoyable moments you spent together, particularly those that might get you laughing together again.
    • By recalling positive memories of your own, your friend will likely recall similar memories of their own, and you will both end up remembering more about your friendship than either of you had remembered independently.
    • This alone will rekindle positive feelings towards one another, if not a resurgence of interest in spending time together again.

Reflecting On Your Friendship After You Reconnect

  1. Forgive. Notice that this step comes after apologizing. Not only do you need to forgive a friend that you hope to continue having a relationship with, you need to forgive them even if they don’t apologize. If you and a friend are not fully able to resolve an issue, you still may be able to have an amicable friendship.
    • Know that there are learning and growing opportunities for both individuals in every friendship. Respecting one another can help you both find the positive in the relationship you had before and the relationship you will have moving forward.[3]
  2. Follow through on plans. If you commit to getting together, immediately act on it by making specific plans. Talk together about what days or evenings you have free in the coming week and at least settle on a day and time to meet.
    • If the day comes and you’re not as free as you’d hoped, compromise. Avoid rescheduling if possible; Instead of lunch, meet for coffee. If you’re unable to meet up, make specific plans again.[5]
    • If your friend invites you out, go! There is no quicker way to let a friendship fall by the wayside than continually turning down opportunities to spend time together.
  3. Give your friends space. Know that even when a friendship is rekindled, especially after a long period of time, it will likely not feel exactly as it had before.[1] Even if it’s harder to share your lives with one another, you can still value each other’s friendship – you may just have to accept the fact that you won’t get as much time together as you’d like.
  4. Consider whether friendship is still in the cards. Be aware that your hopes or expectations for reconnecting with a friend may be different than their expectations, even if they’re willing to meet. If you meet, but a rekindling of your friendship seems unlikely, leave with the knowledge that you both still respect each other enough to reach out to one another again in the future. In the meantime, don’t allow yourself to be stressed about a situation that is out of your control.[6]
  5. Know that not every friendship is the same. Nor will every friendship stay the same. For that matter, no friendship will ever be perfect. More importantly, the context of your relationships with other human beings will change, perhaps out of the blue.
    • Don’t hold it against your friends when they change. Accept them as they are now, just as you had accepted them when you’d been closer. [7]
    • Understand the difference between types of friendships. In the course of your life, you will have relationships that amount to acquaintances, casual friendships, and close friendships. Put your time and effort into nurturing relationships with those people who value their time with you, respect your perspective, and encourage you to grow in whatever capacity you choose.[7]

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