What Should You Do If An Old Friend Doesn’t Want To Reconnect?

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“It’s always hard when you’ve known a person a long time and then you have to recognize that you have nothing left in common, but your memories.”

~ Eva Heller

What should you do if your old friend doesn’t want to reconnect? Leave it alone or tread lightly.

With the influx and popularity of social media, especially amongst 20-somethings, knowing where your old friends are and what they’re doing seems like a no-brainer, but is it really?

The truth is, it is easy to lose touch with your childhood and/or college buddies once you start “adulting.” Work responsibilities, relocations, relationship commitments, parenting tasks, bills, and just life can sometimes get in the way of old friendships. Then, when the dust settles (for a minute or two), you wake up and realize you haven’t talked to your old friend in ages. You also haven’t texted or private messaged him or her in months or even years. Yikes! Has it really been that long? Probably.

You wonder if your friend is pissed at you because you haven’t contacted or connected with him or her. You decide to test the waters by reaching out…but you get no response and if you do get a response, it’s frosty. Now what? You miss your friend. But, reconnecting with him or her is proving to be quite tricky. Is it worth the effort? Most of the time – YES.

The benefits of old friendships

Friendships, especially old ones, are extremely important and beneficial. In fact, healthy friendships, regardless of how “old” they are, can greatly improve your emotional health (i.e. a more stable mood and fewer mood swings, peace, personal, work and relationship happiness, etc.) and physical health  (i.e. lower blood pressure, a lower risk of obesity, fewer headaches, illness, and gastrointestinal distress, etc.).

So, it just makes sense to try to reconnect with your old comrade. Yes, it will probably be “challenging” if hurt feelings are involved. However, it’s totally worth the effort of bringing one of your closets and dearest friends back into the fold. And, no it doesn’t make you a “bad friend” if you’ve lost touch with your “ride-or-die” – even if you or the other person feels that way.

There may be hope for your friendship, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first. Maybe all you need is gentle persistence, patience, honesty, and respect.

Harboring feelings of shame and blame can prevent you from reaching out to your friend so stifle those feelings and make an honest effort to reconnect with him or her – even if he or she is resistant at first. Call your friend just to say, “Hello” and check-in. Keep things brief, light, respectful, and honest. Don’t push for a kumbaya moment, because you’re probably not going to get it, at least not initially. Maybe over time, however.

Try this for a while (begin with once a month then increase it if the interactions go well). After you’ve been checking in with each other for a while, ask your old friend out for coffee, ice cream, or breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The only way to truly know if your friendship can be salvaged is to spend time together talking.

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Actionable Steps


Take baby steps

If your old friend is resistant about reconnecting with you, take baby stepskeep it simple and don’t push. Keep in mind that your primary goal (at this point) is to give your buddy reasons to want to reconnect – to want to be your friend again. So, if you begin your first conversation by talking about what went wrong in your friendship it could widen the rift between you.
There will be plenty of time to sort out what happened once you get on solid ground again. Take your time and wait for calm waters before you jump in the deep end of the pool.

Start out with a quick text, private message, email, or phone call (about 15 minutes if a phone call, or a paragraph if a text, message, or email). Keep it short and sweet. The goal is to let your old friend know you’ve been thinking about him or her and hope he or she is doing well – that’s all. Don’t, however, be too wordy or detailed. Once you take this initial step, it *could* open the door for longer and more in-depth conversations in the future.


Be honest about your intentions

You’ll also need to be honest with yourself and your friend about your true intentions. How? By saying something like, “I’d love to get together sometime!” Or, “Do you mind if I check-in with you from time-to-time?” You could also say something like, “I miss you” to let your friend know you still care and want to be a part of his or her life.
But, don’t push. I can’t stress this enough. You don’t want to inadvertently push your friend away because you’re moving too quickly. So, take your time and be open and honest with your friend – he or she deserves that from you. Additionally, do not aggressively force your agenda onto your reluctant friend. Be respectful and don’t overstep any boundaries. In other words, throw the ball in your friend’s court and let him or her reach out to you the next time. If you broach the idea of talking more or getting together, and your buddy is reluctant, let it go for now.
Be patient and wait for more receptiveness from him or her. Keep it to occasional calls, texts, emails, or messages until your friend’s attitude changes towards you. But, don’t give up if you care about the friendship. Once things calm down a little, apologize for your part in losing touch and let your friend know you want to reconnect with him or her. 


Keep the convo light-hearted

One of the best ways to reconnect with an old friend who isn’t sure he or she wants to “keep in touch” is to make him or her laugh. Laughter is healing. So, keep any conversations, texts, emails, phone calls, and/or private messages light-hearted – at least until you are on better footing in your relationship. Send your friend funny GIFs, texts, memes, or tell funny jokes while you are on the phone.


Be respectful – even if you don’t like the outcome

If your friend doesn’t appear to want to reconnect, be respectful even if you don’t like the outcome. For instance, if you reach out to your old friend and he or she isn’t receptive to it, then back-off for a while. Give your friend space. He or she may change his or her mind eventually. But, if you disregard your friend’s feelings and wishes, it could destroy your friendship forever. So, throw the ball to your friend and let him or her take control of the situation. You’ll be thankful you did once your friendship is back-on-track!


Read more about this topic

If you are interested in learning more about what you should do when an old friend doesn’t want to reconnect, check out the following articles: 7 Ways To Reconnect With A Friend You Lost Touch With, Miss Manners: Old Friend Doesn’t Want to Reconnect, and You Can’t Go Home Again: Why Your Old Friends Don’t Want to See You Over the Holidays.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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