I’ve had more than my fair share of friends come and go over the years.
It used to bother me that friendships would wane or that we would drift away from each other. Sometimes, it hurt when a friend “replaced” me, or when the friendship ended before I was ready.
I’ve also had friendships end like a bad car accident. Like the car, the friendship is completely totaled and beyond repair.
Not all friendships that ended stay that way forever.
So many past friendships are just a phone call — or even a text message — away from being rekindled, even those that ended years ago.
There’s a saying that comes from a famous poem that says friendships are either for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. It stands true until today.
It only took me 50-plus years of my life to finally understand the true meaning of this saying.
When I was a kid in summer camp, I thought my cabin mates would be my friends forever.
As I graduated from high school, I thought my besties would always be a part of my life.
While married, I was certain that the wives I hung out with regularly would be in my social circle forever.
But people change. They move on, and sometimes, they move away.
I’ve done my fair share of moving on and away from friendships myself, and it truly did end many of them permanently.
My attention was focused on my new environment, creating new connections, and building new support systems in the new environment.
Part of this is a survival instinct, but it’s also human nature.
Humans are social creatures. We crave and need connection with other human beings to feed our soul and well-being.
Now, more than ever, with this past year of isolation and social distancing, the importance of being connected with others is amplified for everyone.
I can’t tell you how many friendships I’ve rekindled over the years not even realizing that that was what I was doing. I truly was just feeding my curious soul for contact with someone from my past.
Here are 4 ways to get started rekindling a long-ended friendship.
1. Use your social networks.
This is like shooting fish in a barrel!
Everyone has sent a friend request to someone they know from their childhood through their social network at some point.
Maybe that’s where the re-connection ended — you’re now “socially networked.” But that’s not really friendship.
Friendship requires interaction and communication. It’s what you do with this new networked connection that rekindles the friendship.
2. Send a message and then get on the phone.
Test the waters with messaging then ask to get on the phone. Catching up with each other and bantering about what’s been going on in your lives over the years is one of the quickest ways to rekindle a friendship.
I find these conversations can last well over an hour — they’re full of memories, laughter, and even tears sometimes.
3. Use professional networking.
I left corporate in 2014 but considered many of the people I worked with over the years to be much more than just my peers — they were my friends.
I learned, when I left, that they were friends for a reason — a shared industry, client, goal, etc. When I left the industry, many of these friendships simply disappeared. Poof!
Through the years, as I purged my database of contacts, there were some that I didn’t want to delete.
For whatever reason, our connection was more than professional — they mentored me or I mentored them, or I simply think that one day, there may be a reason or opportunity to reconnect with that person.
I’ve reached out to many of these through my professional network, and we’ve developed friendships on a very new and rewarding level.
My old boss, the president of the company I left in 2014, has become a very dear friend who I see just once a year, but we speak at least every six months. That’s a friendship I cherish.
An old employee who worked for me back in the early 2000s I hadn’t heard from in years, reached out to me about six months ago to let me know she was moving to the area I moved to.
She’s finally settled in and we’re meeting for the first time in many, many years. I can’t wait! She was always a joy, and I’m looking forward to rekindling our relationship and building a new and modern friendship.
4. Make them a destination.
Having traveled a good part of the world in my youth and first career, I know people all over the world. Do I consider them friends?
Many of them were seasonal friends — friends for the time our lives intersected. Now, when I’m preparing to travel, I go through my address book and reach out to them if I will be going through their city.
This always rekindles the friendship, like no time at all has passed.
Even though I may only see them again for the duration of a meal as I pass through their city, our rekindled friendship fulfills my need for human connection. My comfort in knowing I can call them a friend, regardless of how long it has been, is magical.
Do these re-connections automatically rekindle a friendship? Nope, that’s up to you and your friend to make sure the kindle catches fire.
Friendships are relationships. They require nurturing and effort from both parties. If the effort is not put in, the friendship will most likely not endure.
What has been your experience in rekindling old friendships?