An expert gives us the lowdown on what it takes to rekindle a relationship

Good friendships have to be one of the biggest joys of being human. Whether it’s precious time spent giggling over the dramas of ‘the night before’, or the supportive shoulder that’s always there after a messy breakup, one thing is certain – we really would be lost without our pals. 

But for many of us, there’s ‘the one that got away’. A friend who once was a huge part of our lives and whose absence now leaves behind a void. Sadly, this is the post Covid-19 reality, with one in five Britons saying they have become distanced from close friends due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We speak to Michelle Elman, life coach, boundaries expert and author of The Joy Of Being Selfish, on everything we need to know when it comes to reconnecting with an old friend. Here’s her top four takeaways when it comes to maintaining our mates: 

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself
2. Be aware that social media affects friendships
3. Don’t overcomplicate things – send the text!
4. Engage in ‘speak and distract’ activities 

Read on for everything Michelle has to say.

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself

"The reality of the pandemic is that it took up a lot of our emotional capacity," says Michelle. "When that’s reduced, it’s only natural that you’d have less energy to dedicate to other people. Because we were so reliant on technology, it also had consequences for friendships. If someone isn’t good at replying, or just isn’t adept when it comes to dealing with technology, it could make it difficult to maintain contact."

But Covid-19 isn’t the only reason why friendships may have fallen apart. It turns out it can often be a rite of passage and isn’t something to beat ourselves up over.  

"Sometimes, friendships don’t survive simply because we’re in different phases of life," Michelle continues. "As we grow up, we evolve and sometimes those changes mean we no longer value the same things or align in terms of personality. When we’re younger, we often have the benefit of physical proximity and being forced to see each other via school or university and as that fades, more effort is required to maintain friendships. While this occurs, we also have more responsibilities and sometimes it simply comes down to not having the time and energy to maintain the quantity of friends you had before."

2. Be aware that social media affects friendships

"Whether it's feeling left out because you see a group of friends hanging without you, or getting annoyed because someone never engages with your posts, there’s no denying that social media can really complicate friendships and bring up feelings of loneliness," says Michelle. "The key is to not make assumptions about what you see online. If you see something that upsets you, then bring it up in person rather than sitting on that resentment. When you take a social media post and tell yourself a story about it, you’re creating a narrative with only some of the information and often, if we feel hurt or rejected, we’ll choose the version of events that will make us feel the worst. If we focus on this, it’s damaging for our mental health."

3. Don’t overcomplicate things - send the text!

Reaching out to an old friend you haven’t talked to in a long time may seem daunting or cause stress. The passing of months or years can make you feel like strangers, but remembering the connection you had is key here.

"Most of the time people absolutely love to hear from someone they’ve lost touch with," says Michelle. "A simple text, email, phone call or social media DM is enough. Try a, 'Hey! How are things going? Haven't been in touch in a while and was thinking of you.' It’s an easy way to start the conversation back up."

So, take a deep breath and press send. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did. 

4. Engage in ‘speak and distract’ activities.

So, you’ve arranged a date with an old friend, but aren’t sure where to go, or what activities to try. Michelle has got it covered.

"Any activity where you have a chance to speak and something to distract you works well. An example of this is something like pottery painting. If the conversation runs dry, you can discuss what you’re painting or what colours you are going to use. Doing activities like going to the cinema might be a good warm up, but it will take a few more encounters to actually catch up on your lives, so if you have little time, it's better to choose something where you can actually talk. I’d also stress that you need to accept the possibility that there might be silences or it might be a little awkward. Expect it – it doesn’t mean you won’t have a good time!"

When all’s said and done? Life’s short. So, consider this your cue to rekindle a friendship. You won’t regret it.