You’re sitting at your kitchen table, looking through old pictures and reminiscing about the good times you had with your friends.
You think to yourself, “How is Martha doing? I haven’t seen her in forever.”
But then you remember that you don’t even have her phone number or know how to get in touch with her.
And what would you even say after all these years?
If all of these questions are flying your way, don’t worry.
We’ve got some tips on how to reconnect with your old friends, but first – let’s start with whether you should reach out in the first place.
Should You Reconnect With an Old Friend?
“Should I reconnect with an old friend?” It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another (and likely more frequently as the decades go by), and our answer is yes — but with an open mind and minimal expectations.
Even if you don’t revive a full-blown friendship again, you’ll still learn something about yourself and the types of connections you want in this life stage. The pursuit of friendship and connection is always worth it, no matter the outcome. And social interaction is especially vital for older adults.
After all, friendships are some of the most important relationships we have in our lives. They can provide us with support, laughter, and a shoulder to cry on when we need it.
If some of your friendships have fallen by the wayside after years apart, reconnecting with an old friend can be a great way to reignite a lost friendship, especially if you have fond memories of your time together. It may be worth reaching out and seeing if there’s still a spark there.
In situations where you don’t end up picking up where you left off, it can still be fun to catch up and reminisce about old times.
On the downside, however, there’s always the risk that things have changed too much and you’ll find that you have nothing in common anymore. There’s definitely the possibility that you or your old friend have moved on and are no longer interested in maintaining a relationship. While you won’t gain an old friend in this situation, it’s still a great learning opportunity.
If you’re still wondering if you should reconnect with old friends, consider our two big questions.
#1. Why Did You Lose Touch?
The first thing to ask yourself is why you lost touch in the first place. If it was simply because of distance, then there’s a good chance you can pick up right where you left off. But if there was some sort of conflict that caused the friendship to end, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth revisiting that.
We’ve all had that one friend who just wasn’t good for us. Maybe they were always asking for favors and never reciprocating, or maybe they were always putting you down in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
Whatever the form, these codependent, one-sided friendships are rarely healthy ones. In fact, research has shown that they can actually be more stressful than not having any friends at all.
That’s not to say the relationship was a total waste, it’s more of a learning moment – where you can better decipher the people who lift you up and encourage growth (people in your Circle of Influence) from the people who weigh you down (those in your Circle of Concern).
So ask yourself: is this person dragging you down? Or are they actually adding anything positive to your life?
If it’s the latter, don’t be afraid to reach out and reconnect with old friends who you know have your best interests at heart. These are the kinds of friendships that will help you weather life’s storms and encourage your growth, rather than adding to the chaos.
#2. Why Do You Want to Reunite?
Before reaching out to an old friend, ask yourself what your motives are.
- Are you simply curious about what they’re up to?
- Do you miss them and want to rekindle the friendship?
- Are you trying to avoid loneliness and boredom?
- Or are you looking for closure?
Whatever the reason, it’s important to be honest with yourself before reaching out. Otherwise, you risk setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you’re thinking about reconnecting with an old friend just because you’re feeling lonely or sad, that’s probably not the best reason. When we feel lonely, it’s natural to want to reconnect with old friends and/or people who aren’t a good fit, simply because it seems better than having no one around.
But studies show that loneliness can also lead to impulsive decision-making. Without the relief of companionship, our psychological resources are depleted, making it harder to think clearly. As a result, we might be more likely to reconnect with relationships that aren’t good for us.
What’s more – if you truly connect with yourself first, you’re in a much healthier more whole place to connect with people for the sake of connection, rather than validation (something that’s best when it comes from within you).
“To be connected to yourself means that you understand your value and worth, and that gives you the power to be yourself… [and it also means] a groundedness that gives you the willingness to listen and be yourself.”
If you find yourself feeling lonely, it’s important to take some time to reflect on your decision. Is this really a friend you want to reconnect with? Or are you just looking for someone to fill the void?
Once you’ve honestly answered these questions, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision that is in your best interest. Which brings us to our four reconnecting tips today.
How to Reconnect With Old Friends
If you’ve decided that reconnecting with an old friend is the right move for you, there are a few things you can do to make it happen.
#1 Find Them on Social Media
There’s no doubt that social media has changed the way we communicate. As many as 67% of social media users say that staying in touch is a major reason they use social media sites.
In the past, reconnecting with old friends meant scouring through yearbooks or sending a letter in the hopes that it would reach its destination. But, thanks to social media, reconnecting with old friends is as easy as finding their profile and sending a friend request.
If you’re not sure how to find someone on social media, try doing a search for their name or username. If that doesn’t work, try looking through your list of friends to see if you’re still connected to any mutual friends.
Once you’ve found your friend, send them a message or leave a comment on one of their posts. If they respond positively, take the conversation offline.
#2 Reach Out to Mutual Friends
If you’re having trouble finding someone on social media, your next best bet is to reach out to mutual friends.
Start by simply sending a message to one of your mutual friends or acquaintances and ask if they have any information on how to get in touch with your old friend.
But according to research, you lose about half of your close network members every seven years. So, if it’s been a while since you’ve seen your friend, it may be trickier to find any mutual friends.
If that’s the case, don’t let it discourage you. You can still reach out to your old friend directly with tip #3.
#3 Use a People Search Engine
If you’ve tried social media and mutual friends, but you’re still having no luck, your next best option is to use a people search engine.
People search engines are online tools that help you find people using their name, email address, phone number, or physical address. While there are a lot of different people search engines to choose from, some of the most popular ones include Pipl, Zabasearch, and ThatsThem.
All you need to do is enter the person’s name and any other information you have about them, and the people search engine will do the rest. Most people search engines are free to use, but some may require you to create an account before you can start searching.
For instance, Zabasearch is free to use while Pipl requires you to reach out to a sales expert.
Once you’ve found your friend’s contact information, reach out to them and see if they’re interested in reconnecting.
#4 Pick Up the Phone
We’ve all been there. You run into an old friend at the grocery store, or you bump into someone you went to high school with on Facebook, and you think to yourself, “I should really reach out to that person.”
But then you don’t. Maybe it’s because you’re not sure what to say, or maybe it’s because you’re not in the mood or you’re just worried the conversation will be awkward.
Whatever the reason, many of us end up avoiding reconnecting with old friends. But a new study suggests that we may be underestimating the power of a phone call.
In the study, researchers asked 200 people to make predictions about what it would be like to reconnect with an old friend either via email or phone. Even though participants suggested that a phone call would make them feel more connected, they still said they would prefer to email because they expected calling would be too awkward.
But when participants were actually assigned to reconnect with an old friend via either email or phone, those who called reported feeling far more connected than those who emailed.
The results suggest that we often underestimate the power of a personal connection, even when we’re aware of its potential benefits.
So if you’re looking to reconnect with an old friend, pick up the phone instead of sending a text or email. You may be surprised by how good it feels.
What to Say to an Old Friend?
Now that you’ve found your old friend, it’s time to reach out and reconnect.
But what do you say?
You may feel like you have nothing in common anymore, or that you’ve grown apart too much to pick up where you left off. Or perhaps you have so much to share, you don’t know where to begin.
There are a few things you can say to break the ice and start rebuilding your friendship:
- Ask your friend how they’ve been doing — this may seem obvious, but actively listening can make all the difference. Show genuine interest in what they’ve been up to, and share some updates on your own life as well. This is a great way to catch up and get reacquainted.
- Mention something from your shared past — this could be a shared experience, like a childhood memory or a story from college. Reminding your friend of good times you’ve had together will help to create a positive association with you, and it’ll also give you something to talk about. Not to mention that nostalgia reduces loneliness and improves your overall well-being.
- Express your interest in getting together in person — if the connection excites you, let it be known. Let them know that you’d love to meet up for coffee or grab lunch sometime soon. By taking things slow and starting with small steps, you can rebuild your friendship one conversation at a time.
Here is an example message you could send to reconnect with an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while:
Reaching out can be scary, but it’s worth it to reconnect with someone who matters to you. If you’ve been thinking about it, don’t be afraid to take the leap. Chances are, your friend will appreciate it more than you think.
In one study, 54 participants wrote a note to a fellow college student they hadn’t been in touch for a while. The results show that on average senders rated recipients’ appreciation at 5.57 on a 7-point scale, while the recipients themselves rated their appreciation at 6.17.
So go ahead and reconnect with your old friends. You may be surprised at how thrilled they are to hear from you.
Reunite With Friends & Reconnect With Yourself
We all have old friends that we’ve lost touch with over the years. It’s not uncommon for people to drift apart as they get older and their lives take them in different directions.
But when you reconnect with old friends, it’s like reconnecting with a part of yourself that you may have lost touch with over the years. In a way, old friends act as a mirror, reflecting back to us the parts of ourselves that we might have forgotten.
And if there’s no flame to rekindle, it’s an important insight into the types of people who you do and don’t want to connect with in your current stage. This is a connection to yourself, which is hugely important, so no effort toward engaging is lost.
There are a few things you can do to reconnect with old friends:
- #1 Find them on social media — social media has made it easier than ever to reconnect with people from our past
- #2 Reach out to mutual friends — sometimes the easiest way to find someone is through a mutual friend
- #3 Use a people search engine — if you’re having trouble finding someone, a people search engine can be a helpful tool
- #4 Pick up the phone — don’t be afraid to reach out and call someone (you may be surprised)
Whatever method you choose, be patient and give your friend time to respond. They may be just as excited to reconnect as you are.
Above all, prioritize connecting with yourself first. It’ll lead you to the most authentic supportive friendships, whether it’s old friends or you’re making new ones.