How to Reconnect With An Old Friend Without Making It Awkward

Female friends sitting in cafe with mug of coffee, talking, support, friendship

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You probably have fond memories of an old friend—of chatting, laughing, and spending time with them. The two of you may have drifted apart over time, but occasionally something may remind you of them, causing you to wonder how they are.

If you’ve lost touch with a friend, you’re not alone. According to a 2016 study, people often tend to lose touch with others after the age of 25. Life can get in the way, with hectic schedules, different paths, life changes, and big moves making it difficult to keep in touch with all the people in your life.

If you’ve been missing your friend and thinking about reaching out to them, you may worry about whether it’ll be just like old times, or uncomfortable and awkward. You may wonder whether you’ll have anything to talk about, whether they miss your friendship and want to be friends again, or whether there are any hard feelings.

This article discusses the benefits of reconnecting with old friends, reasons why it may be awkward, and some tips that can help you prevent any awkwardness.

Benefits of Reconnecting With Old Friends

These are some of the benefits of reconnecting with an old friend, according to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University:

  • Reliving happy memories: Spending time with an old friend can help you remember and relive happy memories, adventures, and the strong bonds you developed through challenging times.
  • Getting in touch with your past: Rekindling friendships from different times in your life can help you reconnect with different parts of yourself. Old friends can remind you of the person you used to be and help get you in touch with parts of yourself that might have become suppressed over the years.
  • Offering a new perspective: Reconnecting with old friends can give you a new perspective on your life now, relative to how it was in the past. You can also get a perspective on the past from someone who has been through it with you. 
  • Building your community: Reestablishing a friendship with an old friend can help you strengthen your roots and feel more grounded in your community. A deeper feeling of connectedness contributes to better well-being.

Reasons Why It Might Be Awkward

As close as you and your friend once were, there may be awkwardness in your relationship now. According to Dr. Romanoff, these are some of the reasons why it could be awkward:

  • Hurt feelings: People sometimes take friendships drifting apart personally and put a negative interpretation on the distance in the relationship. For example, they might assume the other person did not like them enough to stay in contact or that they purposely distanced themselves. Their feelings may be hurt or they may hold a grudge against the other person for not staying in touch.
  • Changes over time: Reconnecting can also be awkward because people change significantly over time, and your reference point for your old friend might be very different from the person they are today. You might find that your lives have taken radically different paths since you were younger, and it may be challenging to connect over your shared past when your present lives are so different.
  • Comparisons: When reconnecting with an old friend from the past, there may be a tendency to compare present situations. Negative themes of jealousy, envy, or upward social comparison could hinder reconnection.

Tips to Prevent Awkwardness

Dr. Romanoff suggests some tips that can help you prevent any awkwardness while reconnecting with an old friend:

  • Reach out via social media: Connect with them through social media or text message if you’re too nervous to make a phone call or to initiate a meet up. Follow up on one of their most recent posts to spark conversation about what they’re up to. Slowly build up the relationship in a way that feels natural to you.
  • Show some love: If you’re genuinely happy to connect with your old friend, make it a point to communicate that to them. Be warm and affectionate with them and let them know how much it means to you. Genuine warmth can help melt away some of the awkwardness that may build up in a relationship.
  • Bring back a fond memory: Initiate conversation by bringing up a cherished memory or a funny time you shared. It will transplant you both back to that moment when you were close and help smooth over the “What are you up to now?” conversations that can sometimes be rigid.
  • Display your interest: As you chat with your friend, let them know you’re interested in what they’re sharing with you. Paying attention, asking follow-up questions, and empathizing with them can help you connect with them and get to know who they are today.
  • Move past conflicts: Don’t dwell on conflicts or the reasons your friendship drifted apart. If it happens to come up naturally down the line, then feel free to address any possible hurt feelings. But, in the beginning, focus on what you had in common and the good times you shared together.
  • Make future plans: As you end your conversation or your meeting with your friend, make future plans with them based on shared interests.

A Word From Verywell

Reconnecting with an old friend can bring up a lot of emotions, including excitement, nostalgia, insecurity, and awkwardness. However, if you and your friend are able to get over the awkwardness, you can rekindle your friendship based on the times you shared together in the past as you get to know each other in the present.

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2 Sources
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  2. Blieszner R, Ogletree AM, Adams RG. Friendship in later life: a research agenda. Innov Aging. 2019;3(1):igz005. doi:10.1093/geroni/igz005