Our culture is full of constant starting and stopping. We continuously move from one phase of life to the next. But the end of the year often causes us to reflect on the past and take stock of our lives to start a new cycle and new year with a stronger footing. Jeffrey Kerber, Ph.D., UnityPoint Health family and marriage counselor, says many people find the end of the year ideal for reconnecting with old friends we may have lost touch with along the way.
Why is Reconnecting with Old Friends Important?
“There are so many models of individual psychology that talk significantly about the way individual wellness is really connected to relationship wellness,” Dr. Kerber says. “It’s rare that you see those two things in disagreement.”
Dr. Kerber says most people don’t maintain all the friends they meet in their life journey, trying to do so is likely unrealistic.
“There is no equation for determining an ideal number of friends. It’s about quality, not quantity. If you have a sound social support connection ? for most people that’s just a few people, and it can easily be one — those connections can help you cope with the rest of what the world throws at you,” Dr. Kerber says.
Dr. Kerber says friendships tend to change the most during the transition periods of our lives including marriage, divorce, having children and/or retirement.
How to Reconnect with Old Friends
If you’ve lost a friend along the way and haven’t spoken in a long time, you might be considering reconnecting. If you find yourself in this position, Dr. Kerber says, it’s normal.
“First and foremost, maintaining healthy relationships is a very common dilemma, and many of us fall into the category of letting good ones fall by the wayside,” Dr. Kerber says.
But, before reaching out to reconnect with old friends, it’s a good idea to pause for some self-reflection and consider the context. Think, “why did this happen?”
“If you are feeling guilty about the loss of a friendship, it’s important to find perspective. Consider why the friendship was dropped. If a relationship fell by the wayside because you had a baby and became too busy to go out to lunch anymore, then you shouldn’t feel guilty. Let’s say someone does feel guilty — I recommend finding the authentic explanation and understanding what happened. Considering the context of the relationship might help you recognize that somebody may owe someone an apology. If so, then that’s a critical first step in reconnecting,” Dr. Kerber says.
Dr. Kerber suggests you reflect on these questions:
- Why do I want to connect with this person?
- What’s my intention?
- What do I expect in return?
“No matter what, be clear and be transparent. That’s part of an authentic connection. Leave as little as possible between the lines for misinterpretation. You want to limit the potential for somebody to be confused by your message,” Dr. Kerber says.
He goes on to explain how to be mindful of your expectations. A positive way to approach an old friend would be, “Hey, if you want to connect that’d be great. Otherwise, I know everyone is busy. I just wanted to say what I’ve said because it’s important to me, and I valued the relationship and the time we used to share together.”
What Platform is Best for Reconnecting with People?
Whether it’s a letter, email, text or Facebook message, Dr. Kerber says the way you reach out to someone isn’t as important as what your message says.
“Regardless of the shorter format, I’d rather see someone send a text to reconnect in a way that’s clear and mindful than a longer, less straightforward message. You don’t have to plan for months to figure out what to say, but a bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way,” Dr. Kerber says.
Dr. Kerber ends by saying people are all very different, and there is no one recipe for having successful relationships. He suggests you use the tools above to find what works best for you.
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