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The art of finding and reconnecting with long lost friends

“A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents ever so often – just to save it from drying out completely.”

–Pam Brown

Long lost friends

Image by: Travis Modisette

Most of us can probably think of a friend from our past that we would perhaps quite like to see again if the opportunity arises. But of course, life happens and our busy schedules hinder us from re-knotting these old ties. Maybe you and your friend had a falling out and you want to bridge the gap. Or perhaps you’ve moved to a new area and you can vaguely remember an old pal mentioning that they live in the same town as you, and you’d like a friendly face to help settle you in?

Either way, reconnecting with old friends isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth the effort because friendships are important. In fact, a survey carried out by a nurse/blogger called Bronnie Ware revealed that one of the biggest regrets people have on their deathbeds is not having made more of an effort to see friends.

Life is short, so without further ado, here are some tips on how you can make the connection with your long lost friends…before it’s too late!

Analyse the Drift Apart

Before you attempt to make contact with your old buddy, it’s probably a good idea to think back to the last time you saw each other and analyse what factors made you drift apart. If it was a somewhat messy ‘breakup’, you really must decide if you forgive them or if in fact it is you who needs to do the apologising. Yes, time is a great healer – but you have to respect the other person’s feelings. Don’t assume that everything is okay just because a few years have passed.

Maybe there was no falling out but the friendship between you went a bit stale. Perhaps the gap between their interests and yours caused you to grow apart. In this instance, you need to think about how much time and energy you’d be willing to devote to healing this friendship. Decide if you’re willing to bring up your energy levels to meet theirs every now and then, or ‘tone it down’ around them, if needs be.

The Search to Find Them

Social networking has made it easier than ever to connect with people, but what if your long lost friend doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account?

First of all, you could try searching for their name on Google and see what comes up. If that doesn’t work, you may have to attempt to find them with a little more cunning. For example, if you think your old friend still lives in their hometown, use a UK address finding tool, such as the service found on White Pages. Type in their surname and the initial of their given name and search the electoral roll for their details. If that doesn’t work, you could try the same with their parents’ or siblings’ names and addresses.

How to Say it

Making contact with a long lost friend can be nerve-wracking, but it’s worth it once you’ve made that first call. You could try phoning them, or sending them a message electronically. A cute idea that most people would enjoy receiving is a message on a post card. So think outside the box to make an impact.

What to Say

Once you have successfully established your friend’s whereabouts, you might want to take some time to figure out what you’re going to say to them upon meeting again after all this time. For some, this will be easy – you’re confident that you and your friend can pick up where you left off – but for others, social anxiety creeps in and you may feel like you need ‘an in’ – some sort of reason for you to be making contact with them.

In this case, you could invite them to an event you would both like to attend, or you might want to set up a casual coffee date with them. Coffee dates work well for meeting up with old friends; it’s a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere where you and your friend can leave after you’ve finished your coffee (say 20 minutes later), or stay all afternoon at the same table if you’re really having a laugh. No one has to feel uncomfortable about making an exit from a coffee shop in the middle of the day, after all, you might have errands and those errands aren’t going to run themselves!

But what is important to remember is that once you have made the steps to re-establish old bonds with your friend, it’s up to you to keep the momentum going. Be honest with your friend about why you are seeking them out and start to build the trust up again from there. Make time for each other; even if you feel tired after a long day at work, don’t cancel your plans to hang out. Imagine your friendship as a beginning of a relationship, be yourself but behave yourself! They may have forgiven you in the past for always cancelling plans, but don’t be naïve to think that they will accept that kind of behaviour from you again 10 years later. Respect each other and you will be on your way to having your old friend in your life once more.

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