How do we catch up with people that we’ve missed over the past year, but haven’t necessarily kept in contact with? Maybe we don’t have their number, or we used to see them at the gym every day, but we haven’t been to the gym in a year. How do we reconnect with those people?
I always like to advise leading with vulnerability when starting a conversation or reaching out to somebody. Ask yourself: What is the main reason that I’m reluctant to have this conversation? Whatever your response is should be your first sentence.
So if I’m nervous that my friend is gonna feel like I haven’t been checking in, or that she’s gonna think I’m not a good friend, I lead with: “Hey! I know we haven’t talked in a while — I was actually reluctant to reach out, because I feel like such a bad friend and I haven’t connected with you in a long time. But you’ve really been on my mind. I would love to talk.” So, I’m saying the thing. I’m leading with the thing. Instead of running from it, lean into it. What are you terrified of? That your friend will call you out for being absent? Well, if she does, what can you say? “You’re right. I’ve had so much going on and then I felt guilty for letting so much time pass without reaching out. I’m so sorry. I’ve been thinking about you. I’d really like to see you.”
And I think we have to remember that a lot of people welcome that. They’re happy to hear from us! So if you wanna rekindle with a friend and you’re nervous, I say lead with the thing that’s keeping you hesitant, because research shows that we actually like people more when they’re vulnerable with us.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about friendship?
When I began my journey to becoming a friendship coach, I was surprised to learn how much friendship impacts our physical, mental, and emotional health. We too often talk about friendship from a perspective of a nice-to-have: It’s nice to have people to go to brunch with. It’s nice to have people to go to happy hour with. But we don’t talk about it enough from a wellness perspective, like: I need my friends — I genuinely need my friends. Research is telling us that loneliness is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and hopefully that kind of information is a wake up call for us to work on our relational health.
What I wish everyone knew about friendship is that it’s never too late to form meaningful relationships, and that conflict is normal. One of the biggest lies that people believe is that it’s too late for them to make close friends. Or we think, “Once they learn the real me, people won’t wanna be friends with me anymore.” It’s never too late to form the kinds of satisfying friendships that you want for your life, EVER.
Conflict is normal. Let’s not throw friendships away prematurely because something got weird, or someone said something we don’t like. We’ve gotta start normalizing working through conflict in our platonic relationships the same way we do in our romantic ones; we’ve gotta learn how to say things directly but compassionately, and move on. Because the secret is that closeness and platonic intimacy often lie on the other side of a little tension — because then we have conversations where we can understand each other better.