Tips For Reconnecting With A Friend After Drifting Away

Like romantic relationships that burn hot and fizz, friendships can also fizzle out after months or years of shared priceless memories. According to a new survey of 1,000 people across the U.S conducted by Not4Dating (via Daily Mail), more than two-thirds of participants revealed that they'd lost at least 90% of their friends in 10 years' time, and only 55% managed to keep the same best friends for a decade or more. When a friendship has run its course, your former ride-or-die becomes just a familiar stranger.

Friendships flatten out for a number of reasons: tempers flare, mismatched expectations, or loss of common interests. The way a friendship ends isn't always obvious and convincing. Most end without a bang — no solemn rites like couple counseling or a court hearing involved. And the common denominator in every dead friendship is: neither party makes a conscious effort to revive it. You can shrug your shoulders and say that it's life getting in the way, but friendships are not so much about retaining as sustaining. "Friendships are vulnerable to circumstances, but that vulnerability is also what makes them flexible," says Bill Rawlins, a professor of communication at Ohio University, to The Art of Manliness. As long as you genuinely want to let a friend back into your life, there are ways to mend the fences and get on the same wavelength again. Below, check out tips on how to reconnect with a friend after drifting away.

Strike up a conversation

Before you get the ball rolling, you might want to take a long, hard look at your relationship with your old pal first and identify the deal-breaker. Ask yourself: what was the cause of the rift and who was to blame? Why do you want to salvage it and how? There's no point in reviving a dead relationship if it's not getting any better or it doesn't enrich anyone in any shape and form.

On the other hand, if you have parted ways with the person for a very long time, you might want to set realistic expectations here. "If you think it's going to be a completely different person than the person you broke up with, you're probably being unrealistic," warns Irene Levine, a psychiatry professor at NYU, to The Cut. That means, being ready to be disappointed and abort the mission. 

Having said that, if the person means the world to you, don't let your pride or assumptions get in the way of reconnection. If a phone call seems too bold, just send a simple text for a start. Life and career coach Jenn DeWall tells Bustle: "Text or email a simple 'hi' or 'thinking of you' note. Remember it doesn't have to be long and detailed, people are just happy you have reached out!" Take it slow, and casually invite the person out for coffee so you two have a chance to talk things through and rebuild your friendship.

Have a heart-to-heart chat with your friend

Once your friend has agreed to meet you, be ready for a painfully awkward conversation. Of course, you should think ahead about what you'd like to say and rehearse before the meet-up. "When you get together, if it's a bit awkward, ask them open-ended questions," life coach Desiree Wiercyski tells Bustle. "What line of work are you in now?" or "You're looking great! Have you been working out?" are some good examples. These questions give your friend a chance to talk about themself while you get time to analyze them and think about what to say next.

After some standard small talk, the conversation will inevitably progress to the part where your friend asks you the whys and wherefores of your suddenly reaching out to them. This is your chance to clear up any misunderstandings, so be honest and do it right. "Take ownership of your responsibility in the friendship fading, and actively listen to what the other person says," dating app Bumble's chief brand officer Alex Williamson tells TZR. Having to listen to your friend's side of the story can be a hard pill to swallow — but you can't avoid it. There's also a possibility that an honest conversation with your old buddy will lead your reconciliation effort to nowhere. You might realize that the person has changed or lost interest in having a friendship with you. If you just cannot picture the person being a part of your life again, stop investing.

Create new memories together

If you want to get chummy with your friend all over again, you need to do more than just texting or liking their posts on social media. Unless you and your friend are living in different cities, you should make a conscious effort of meeting your friend in person, getting physical, and engaging in high-leverage activities together at least once per week. There's something about physical togetherness that strengthens a sense of belonging and wards off feelings of loneliness. "It's really surprising how people can seemingly click so well on text, yet have zero spark in person," Breakup BOOST podcast host Trina Leckie tells Elite Daily. "This is why it's so important to meet soon after connecting online vs. spending time texting for days or weeks on end."

According to OneLove, checking out Insta-worthy food places is a great way to create fun memories and bond as freshly reconciled friends. You can also hang out at each other's place, cooking or watching a flick together — just like the old days. While it's good to refer to your shared history for ideas, consider introducing activities that correspond with your evolving interests — like playing golf or going to facials. Keep in mind that interests change over time, and it might be time to establish new traditions.

Show your friend the new you

If you and your friend have decided to give the friendship another try, make sure the person knows you're putting your best foot forward. Prove to your old pal that you're no longer this spoiled, attention-seeking person who's always canceling plans last minute and putting yourself ahead of others. The thing about long-time friends is that they tend to look at you as who you were years ago and struggle to accept that you have outgrown your old self, per Covisioning. To make your friend do a double take and recognize the new you, make a conscious effort of changing your behaviors, and don't be shy about taking the high road.

For instance, stop flaking out on your friend — that's a big turn-off. When you really have to take a rain check, apologize and be serious about making new plans with them. If you haven't heard from your friend for a while, proactively check in on them. When you're with them, be as present as possible. Even when the topic is not of your interest, listen intentionally, show empathy, and affirm their self-esteem, per the coaching platform BetterUp. The rule of thumb for coming across as supportive is to ask, not tell, and only offer advice when asked. If the person thinks you're too self-centered to make an effort, they will lose interest quickly.

Move past conflicts

To revive a friendship, do not dwell on the reasons that caused the rift but communicate openly and forge a path together, leadership coach Antoinette Beauchamp tells PsychCentral. However, if there was a major fallout and you're afraid the past will come back to haunt you if you just sweep it under the rug, you can tread very lightly around the issue and avoid talking in negative terms. If your friend is the one at fault, do not play the blame game and make a reunion look like a witch-hunt. No person would want to be friends with someone who's vindictive and has no regard for other people's feelings. If you're the one in the wrong, the best way to restore your integrity in the eyes of your friend is to eat the humble pie and apologize.

Cultural anthropologist and author Susan Kuczmarski tells Reader's Digest: "We all make mistakes, but we all don't admit that we do. Model how to be humble and how to talk about problems, and be bluntly honest about your own thoughts and feelings." Although extending the olive branch is a beautiful gesture, you should be very sure that you mean what you say. No matter how much you want this relationship back, you should avoid getting into a pattern of over-apologizing for things you didn't do and making yourself an easy target for a manipulative, abusive relationship.