How To Reconnect With An Old Friend You Haven’t Seen In A Long Time

We’ve all drifted apart from a friend before, sometimes without realizing it.

Life just gets in the way, and friendships can be impacted – especially those that may have already been long-distance or slightly rocky to begin with.

Reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to for a long time can be very daunting, which is why we’ve put together some tips on how to go about it…

Take baby steps.

If you’re reaching out to someone you’ve not seen for a while, it can be hard to know what to say and how to go about it.

It’s important to start slow, even if you once were very close!

There may be reasons why you drifted apart, so it could be a delicate situation that you’ll want to approach gently.

Start by liking a photo or commenting on something they’ve posted. It may sound silly, but it’s an easy way to show interest from afar without the other person having to commit to anything.

You can do this a couple of times, making your presence known again to your friend. If you’ve not spoken for a while, they may be a bit taken aback by a message out of the blue, so it’s nice to ease your way back into their life.

Next time, leave a comment about missing them, or meeting up, or wanting to know what’s going on with them.

See how they respond – they may return the sentiment, in which case, drop them a message.

You don’t need to be upfront about the fact that you’ve drifted apart as you’ll both be fully aware of it!

It can be a bit awkward to point out the obvious and may make you both feel a little bit uncomfortable.

Instead, say something about how you’d love to catch up and hear their news, and ask if they want to grab a coffee or drink.

See how they respond – it’ll be pretty obvious if they’re just fobbing you off with a generic, polite answer (and we’ve got some advice on how to deal with that below), but you’ll also be able to tell if they’re keen to see you.

How to approach meeting up.

So… this is the scary bit for a lot of people!

It can almost feel like you’re going to a job interview, and you might feel a bit nervous and unsure of how to act.

It’s strange seeing someone you used to be very comfortable with and now aren’t as close to, so prepare yourself for feeling a bit weird.

It’s completely normal to feel a bit upset, even, when you see someone for the first time in a long time – it can highlight how much things have changed between you and that can be sad to realize.

Give yourself a little pep talk or chat to other friends in your life – they might have gone through something similar and will be able to help you process how you’re feeling and how to get ready.

For the actual meeting, see what kind of vibe you’re getting. A glass of wine (or something else) can help! Not because you need to be drunk to spend time with them, but because it can help you both relax and encourage natural behavior.

It’ll get rid of the nerves you may be feeling and can feel really nice and familiar if it’s something the two of you used to do together anyway.

If you’re not drinkers, choose a nice, quiet coffee shop. You don’t want anything so loud and distracting that you struggle to focus on each other, but you’ll want a nice little hum of background noise and activity so that there’s less pressure on you both.

How to act and how to reconnect.

How to act?

Normal!

It may seem like silly advice, but a lot of people don’t know how to act in front of people they’ve not seen for a long time.

Just be yourself – they knew you before and liked you, so there’s no need to feel shy or like you have to act a certain way for them.

If it comes up in conversation, you can acknowledge the time and distance. You don’t need to make a big deal of it, as you’ll both be very aware of it anyway.

Neither should you feel the need to apologize – if it feels natural, go for it, but don’t force it or create false excuses, as it’ll be really obvious and uncomfortable. 

Just be your lovely self – you were close at some point before, so you know what you have in common and what they like/dislike.

Keep it genuine, but also try to throw in some funny memories you can reminisce over together and drop in a few things you know they’ll respond to!

If you know they like a certain actor, bring up their latest film – it may seem silly or a bit ‘desperate,’ but it’ll get you back on common ground and get you both feeling comfortable.

Remember that they may also be feeling nervous, so they’ll probably appreciate you trying to open up the conversation and making it easier on them. 

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or on them – there’s a temptation for us all to picture the ‘perfect’ version of any event, and it can make us feel very disappointed when real life doesn’t quite live up to it.

Rather than forcing anything to be ‘perfect,’ acknowledge that this isn’t the ideal situation anyway!

You’ve drifted apart and may have lost a lot of friendship and love in the process – so this meeting is kind of starting from a low point anyway (not in a negative way!), which means it can only go up.

You’ve got the chance to enjoy something great again, so try to be relaxed and don’t expect too much – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Be honest about any nerves.

This links back to the point above, but is very important, so we wanted it to have its own section!

It is 100% natural and okay to feel nervous – and it’s 100% okay to talk about that.

If you’ve tried to reconnect in the ways we’ve listed above, but it’s not quite working, just be honest.

Admit that you feel a bit nervous or awkward, or unsure of how to act. This is not a bad thing at all – in fact, it shows that you care and that you want things to go well. 

As mentioned, they’re probably feeling a similar way. While you don’t need to go into huge levels of details, you should feel free to say that you’re nervous.

And, given that you used to be pretty close to them, they probably already know anyway!

This person was once a close friend of yours and knew you very well – that means they’re not going to judge you for feeling a bit anxious or uncomfortable; it means that they cared and they still care.

Remember that honesty is a good thing, even if it feels scary, and that they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to be.

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Don’t expect to know everything.

One of the things a lot of people find weird or difficult when reconnecting with an old friend is the gap. 

The gap being the period of time when you had drifted apart where lots of things happened – things that you had no idea about.

Meeting up with someone you’ve not spoken with can be great, but it can be tricky to answer “So, what have you been up to?” when you’ve not seen them for a few years!

Accept that you won’t know everything that’s happened in their life, even if you follow them on Instagram.

Be prepared to hear some things you had no idea about – and be prepared to not be okay with that.

It can feel quite uncomfortable, or painful even, to hear things have happened that you weren’t told about at the time.

They may have gotten married, or divorced, lost their job or been promoted – whether it’s good or bad news, it can feel like a bit of a gut-punch to know that you weren’t one of the people they told at the time. 

Try to remember that this is okay. It’s nothing personal; you just weren’t that close then.

It’s easy to suddenly feel very left out or left behind, but try to move past that.

You might have shared all of your news with them as it happened; or they may not have been the first, or even third, person you thought of calling when you got your new job.

Don’t be offended that you weren’t in their ‘inner circle’ at the time, and just focus on whether you want to get back into it and how to do that.

Make sure you follow up.

Even if you’ve both had a lovely time catching up, there can still be some tension or confusion around the next steps.

You’ve enjoyed seeing each other, but does this mean you’re friends again?

Are you going for another coffee together next week or was that a nice one-off, closure-coffee?

This is why following up is so important!

Don’t get too emotional in the follow-up text, but mention that you loved seeing them and want to do it again sometime.

We all know that, as adults, “doing it again sometime” can be a polite brush-off and you’ll never speak again.

That is why it’s a good idea to suggest a date – “Loved seeing you, was great to catch up! How’s next Thursday looking for you – glass of wine?”

This makes it really obvious that you have actual intention behind the suggestion – it shows that you want to commit to seeing them and value them.

This will help them realize you’re serious (they may have thought you were going to brush them off!) and it gives them an out if they don’t know how to say no.

They can say they’re busy that day and not suggest another date – in which case, sadly, you know where you stand.

Or they can say yes or suggest another date if they’re busy.

Either way, sending a message after seeing a friend for the first time in a long time is a great way to gauge the vibe and see what the next steps are. 

How to deal with rejection.

So, going all the way back to stage one where you suggest hanging out, what if they say no?

This will feel really conflicting – on the one hand, you’ve not spoken for a long time anyway. On the other hand, it can feel like rejection, and nobody likes rejection.

You’ve got a couple of options here:

1. Ask again.

Don’t get too pushy, but you can suggest another day or thing to do.

If they said no to coffee on Friday, ask them if they want to grab a drink with you and your mutual friends the next week.

See if they fancy a movie (no talking, so less pressure!) instead of dinner (big commitment!) or a yoga class instead of a day out with your kids. 

2. Let it go.

Acknowledge that they don’t want to reconnect and do your best to move on. It’s just one of those things and there’s not really much you can do.

Remind yourself that you’re not really missing out, as they’ve been absent from your life for a while anyway.

You have other friends who value you and see the worth in spending time with you. You drifted away from this friend for a reason, so, without being bitter, let it go.

3. Get closure.

If you don’t understand why they’ve either not replied to you or have just said no/ made up a dodgy-sounding excuse, you might want to get some closure.

Have a good think about why they may be reluctant, or just defiant, about not seeing you.

Did things end badly? Have you offended them in some way? Have they recently posted about a divorce and maybe the timing is just bad?

If you can’t work out what may be putting them off, you can ask. You’ve not got much to lose at this point, so you may as well find out and find a way to move on.

It may be that things didn’t end well between you or that things have changed since you saw each other, but it’s good for you to understand why and then have the closure to be able to move on.

So, there you have it – some advice on how to reconnect with a friend you’ve not seen for a long time. It might be messy or awkward or upsetting, but it also might be the best decision you make.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.