There is a popular study suggesting that if a friendship lasts longer than seven years, it will last a lifetime. However, this is not often the case because life can get in the way. People move. People change. People grow. And sometimes, when people grow, they also grow apart. People take separate paths and end up not knowing each other anymore.
Despite that, we can't deny that old friends will always hold a special place in our hearts. After all, we once shared with them the most intricate details of our lives – our first heartbreak, the night we were ugly crying with clumped mascara running down our cheeks, peculiar inside jokes, and sometimes the bad habits we hide from the rest of the world. They've seen us at our best and our worst – back, front, and center.
Somewhere in our subconscious we miss them and think about them. The great news is that we can always get another shot to win these kindred souls back on our team. How does one revive high-quality friendships from their tragic demise, you ask?
Muster the courage to reach out first.
Don't wait until the crows turn white. What's stopping you? What are you afraid of? You haven't spoken to them for ages, to begin with. It can't get any worse. Taking the initiative to approach your long-lost pal won't hurt. Believe it or not, you have nothing to lose. You have a friend to gain if things work out. Get the ball rolling or forever wonder what could have been if you just set aside your fear of rejection and did not let your ego interfere.
Be upfront and curb expectations.
Pick up the phone and send them a text. Don't call because you might come off as intrusive. Also don't write an email because the probability of having it lost in their inbox is high. Louise Tyler, a member of the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, advises to keep your message short, direct, and avoid starting with an apology.
“It’s hard to make contact without apologizing. But ‘I’m sorry’ is never very inviting,” Tyler says. Refrain from narrating “long and convoluted stories about what happened”and just tell them you miss them, you've been thinking about them, and that you'd love to see them.
Despite your efforts, there's a possibility that your friend might not be ready to reconnect for a million reasons, and that is okay. Don't take it personally. If your cherished friend replied – congratulations, you're halfway there. Remember to practice self-compassion whatever the result is.
Get to know your ex-bosom buddies the second time around.
We are never the same person. Everyone evolves and reaches different levels of maturity ceaselessly. We are transformed by our unique experiences and varying set of realities. But that doesn't mean we lost all the old pieces of our former self that you once knew.
Through The New York Times, Atlanta-based licensed psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford notes that we should be mindful of major changes that happened since our falling out.
“You shouldn’t go in as if you can trust this person or assume that you know anything about this person because you really are meeting a stranger in some ways for the first time again,” she explains.
While slowly reacquainting ourselves with them, this is likewise our chance to consider the reasons we outgrew them to avoid similar tensions from reoccurring in the future, and understand how things might be different now since the friendship's disintegration. To set out from scratch may be disheartening but if it means forging a closer, stronger, and longer-lasting bond with the people who are like gems to us, then why not? Blank slate it is.
Go for a trip down memory lane together.
When you manage to meet up, relive the past. Nothing beats spending some precious time looking back and talking about the good old days. According to Tyler, “nostalgia is known to increase feelings of social connection.”
There is emotional longevity among close friendships that can withstand dormant periods because as it appears, “old friends have seen each other grow up; they understand your history, your challenges, your family background, your relationship history.”
Create new rich memories with them.
Dive into the fun stuff you used to do together but spice it up a little bit this time and make it more memorable. Arrange an outing or travel to a place you both have never been before. Plan a hike. Spend an afternoon at home chilling with your favorite books and cups of hot chocolate. Camp at a nearby beach roasting marshmallows in the middle of the night and so on.
Friends whom we can go months and even years without talking but can pick up right where we left off the moment we meet again as if it's just yesterday are the real treasures. If you happen to have one, you're lucky. Be sure to keep them.