Do you remember all those friends you have had in the past – specifically the connections that have been severed, mostly due to time an a lack of communication? Well, it’s never to late to welcome them back into your life. I am completely reeling because I just spent over an hour talking to someone I haven’t spoken to in 5+ years, and haven’t seen in almost 10 years. Now, that doesn’t sound like a ridiculous amount of time, but I’m not even 25, so it’s a significant portion of my whole life, and the majority of my adult life. This is a person with whom I was once very, very close. Out of the blue, we reconnected on facebook and it feels like a breath of fresh air to talk again. All of this is possible because of the interconnectedness of the internet. And yet, though I am “connected” to over 900 facebook friends, I talk to most of them rarely. Why bother being so connected if there’s no reward? Is it really that important to me to have a large audience for my status posts? Because I have to answer no to that second question, there must be a more important reason for staying “connected” to so many former friends.
So my advice is to take a moment and reconnect with a long-lost friend. You’ll probably be surprised by how positive the interaction can be. But here are some tips to make that conversation go as well as it can.
1) Acknowledge that you knew a past-version of your friend, and will need to get acquainted with the current-version.
2) Don’t be afraid to mention things you saw on his/her facebook profile. If it’s on there, that means it’s public enough that he/she shouldn’t be uncomfortable that you know. This may spark more in-depth conversation. It’s certainly better than pretending you don’t know when you clearly know already.
3) Try to pick up where you left off. You’ll have to fill in the gaps, but don’t forget that you have at least some sort of history in common with him/her.
4) Pay attention to social cues and timing. If the conversation is lagging, you might end it early. If the conversation is really picking up, try not to be ADHD and click over to another screen. I’ve been in too many online chats where the other person completely forgot they were talking to me, and I always perceive it as rudeness. But I sometimes do it, too, so this is very much a “note to self.”
5) Prepare for it to be awkward. There was probably some sort of reason you stopped talking to this person. If it was a bad event or a fight, the chances are that it doesn’t matter anymore and has faded away in retrospect. Try to embrace the awkward and just roll with it. It can still be a fun conversation.
6) Don’t let this be the end, again. I decided to end my recent reconnect with, “Should we exchange phone numbers? Would that be too weird?” And though we exchanged numbers, we made no specific promise to talk or text regularly.
7) Don’t expect things to be just like they were. I will need to get to know this friend of mine all over again, despite the fact that we have some past things in common. But so much time has passed that things just can’t be quite the same. For one, we are both older, and for another, so much has happened in each of our lives that the other doesn’t know about.
8) Take it one step at a time. But do take the first step. I just did, and I have high hopes that it will turn out well.
Here’s to new-old friendships! It’s not quite a cliche as reconnecting at a high school reunion, but it’s close. And it’s within your reach, through the power of the internet. Now, go reconnect with a former friend! If it’s awesome, you’re welcome; if it sucks, don’t blame me.