Reconnecting with old friends
July 17, 2010 1:11 AM   Subscribe

Lately I've been feeling like I've outgrown a bunch of my friends. I don't actually want this to happen. How do you make old friendships new again?

I've found myself drifting from friends I've known for years. I get that this happens (I just graduated college) but it's rather distressing. I try to combat this but it feels like I'm going against the grain. It takes tons of calls, emails, and texts just to arrange a lunch.

Meanwhile the friendships I made more recently in college feel so much easier. It's not a huge ordeal to contact people, we'll call each other up to do stuff, and our conversations are much more frequent and interesting. I don't know how to apply this to the old friends, because I'm actually not *doing* anything at all!

So, any ideas on how I could get things back on track?
posted by wonnage to Human Relations (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It only speaks about TIME! Yes time is very important to win back your old friends again. You need to give ample time to contact them, invite them and hang with them.

According to the survey i have made, friendship breaks because both of you will wait who will contact first. Then you will tell yourself "why i will be the one to contact him first". Then no communication will happen until such time the bonding will fade.

So before it become too late, contact your friends. It might be hard to start again but if you come to think of the memories you have got with them, you will succeed in your plans.

Good luck!
posted by JohnD at 1:33 AM on July 17, 2010

Maybe try setting up a routine with them? Some activity that you could have in common and would enforce a more regular interaction? Perhaps a weekly viewing of a show you like, or a join a community sports team together. Or volunteer together. Basically, if it's getting more difficult to have an organic/spontaneous relationship with these people, then maybe a routine or pleasurable obligation could help with the reconnecting.
posted by Sharakov at 2:24 AM on July 17, 2010

Not to be mean, but if you feel that you are outgrowing your old friends, it's possible that they may feel the same. I think that this is a natural feeling, because as time goes by, we change little by little (or maybe a lot at a time, depending.) So the reason why you became friends with one person may not be so relevant to you anymore. And it works both ways.

However, this doesn't mean everything has to stop and you can't be friends anymore. If you really want to preserve what you feel is a fading friendship, then you'll just have to work harder. "Saving" anything requires work, so consciously set aside more time to arrange fun things to do together or figure out a way to get everyone to just hang out and relax. Maybe visit places that are significant to all of you, like an old hangout or something.

I've experienced this with friends I've made in high school. I feel like I've grown and changed a lot since then (I just graduated college too) and my friends and I all grew apart from each other. Part of this was because some of them moved, but also because we ended up taking different paths in life. It was only in college that I met people that I really meshed with, probably because there were more people to choose from and more people who have the same interests, etc.
posted by joyeuxamelie at 4:06 AM on July 17, 2010

I've been facing this dilemma recently. I made all my incredibly-important friends in high school and still spend time with them (less so in college) but I also maintain contact with some friends from middle school, one of which is my oldest, best friend, George.

I can't spend time with George and his/my middle school friends anymore. Being around them is simply and horrifyingly grating. Case in point: His parents hold an annual cookout on Memorial day. I spent most of my time speaking with his mother and father, also close friends of mine, about the house I just bought and the projects, etc. His father recently completed renovating their basement into a lounge, so I suggested to George et. al. that we go down and play some pool. Awesome; except when we got started, Kenny (a close friend of George, but not really me) pulled out a laptop and started YouTubing frustratingly immature fan-dubs of Yu-Gi-Oh (their favorite TCG from middle school, I prefer Magic: TG). I couldn't believe that they still were entertained by this. It blew my mind. I had to excuse myself.

I know this probably sounds terrible. I know it sounds like I'm trying to act more than my age (22,) but I just can't shake that, at 20-22, these people should be grown out of that and talking more about school, or jobs, or the economy, or, really, anything at all. I don't know what to do about it and it's horrible. I spent a lot of time with these people, but it feels like they're permanently stuck in middle school.

I suppose we just out-grow each other at some point. Maybe (hopefully) one day I'll feel like they've grown up, or realize I have my head up my ass.

I don't know if this helped you at all, but it certainly helped me knowing other people are having this problem. Good luck.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:50 AM on July 17, 2010

Sometimes I think the people I was friends with in high school were out of circumstance, and the people I was friends with in college were by choice. When I see my high school friends now, we don't necessarily have that much in common anymore (as we've taken different paths, now have different interests, etc.) but we do have this shared history, and they know things about me and my family that my college friends don't necessarily. So it's nice to have this easy, shared frame of reference.

But the problem is that when we do get together, it's very forced. A lot of it is rehashing old things we used to do together, "remember that time when?", gossip about old mutual friends. We don't really do new things or have new topics of conversation. I mean, a lot of it also depends on how close you were in the first place. Time is a great indicator of how lasting a friendship really is - if both parties still want to make the effort to connect.

Maybe your expectations should be different for your high school and college friends. It can be nice to hang out with people who are familiar and comfortable but who aren't necessarily that similar to you, which is what it's like with my high school friends. I don't think you can force the same kind of connection you have with your college friends. I think the disappointment you feel with your high school friends can be more easily managed if your expectations going in are more reflective of what the situation is (high effort, infrequent and not very satisfying meetups) and not what you want it to be. Again, I don't mean to say the situation is worse necessarily, it's just different. But that's okay! You can have different kinds of friends!

Also, as a recent graduate too, I suspect that my idea of friendship in college was very skewed. Real adults don't see their friends every single day and can't just pop in to the room down the hall. So I don't even know if the kind of friendship you have with your high school friends is actually more indicative of how it is to have friends as an adult. (less frequent, more effort?)
posted by leedly at 7:23 AM on July 17, 2010 [9 favorites]

Ask yourself if you enjoy the time you spend with your old friends or not.

If you no longer enjoy their company either because you matured faster/less fast than they did or because you have very little shared interests or simply live such different lives that you can no longer relate to one another that's probably an indication that the friendship is over. It is quite possible that these friendships were always based on shared circumstances (school) or interests or being part of the same group of people and not so much on enjoying their company.

If on the other hand you are simply frustrated that it takes more effort to maintain contact with people you no longer spend time with on a daily basis but love the time you do spend with them then you'll just have to reconcile yourself that stuff takes more effort to set up because you're all living very different lives now, with different schedules and commitments.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:30 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

It seems like there are two separate issues here. Outgrowing your friends and making time for old friends. Yeah, it can definitely be tedious hooking up with old friends because often they no longer travel in the same social circles that you do. That is definitely a pain but is it worth the time? I have a best friend from high school who has not matured much at all since then and I always end up being annoyed anytime I talk to her now. I think that's part of 'outgrowing your friends' but you can separate that from the time issue. Are they worth your time? You haven't outgrown them.
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2010

If you have to question the lack of interest in old friends, then move on and get new ones.
posted by Postroad at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2010

Do you talk to your high school friends about what you are doing and thinking about now or do you only get together and talk about the good old days? The best way to keep a friendship live is to talk to old friends about real things and not just keep rehashing the past. If you don't talk mostly about the present, the friendship becomes a memorial to your past rather than a living thing.
posted by colfax at 9:42 AM on July 17, 2010

Also, don't stress about this too much. Around age 30, it seemed like everyone I knew was getting back in touch with all the high school friends they'd lost touch with.
posted by salvia at 10:08 AM on July 17, 2010

A lot of good insights here. I chalk it up to age and being in different places in life. I'm still friends with a couple of people from HS and a few close girlfriends from college, but we have drifted in and out of contact over the years. Different lifestyles and interests develop as we age, and the things that I am into aren't necessarily the things that my friends are anymore.

I also found that when I quit drinking and started AA, I did not have as much to say when I was with my dearest girlfriends from college (that I had always been close to). I find that a life-changing situation can quietly affect the quality of relationships to the point that we don't really have much in common as we used to.

Of course, Facebook has brought back quite a few people from my past, but I keep them there and don't feel the need to reconnect in person just because we did online.
posted by mnb64 at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2010

If you want to stay close to them, I think the most important thing to do is to keep doing NEW things with them. When all you can talk about it 'remember when we worked on the Homecoming float that one year?" your friendship is going to grow stagnant. It's important to get together and do new things. It doesn't have to be big, just something so you can later say "remember that time we went bike riding in the park?"

That said, if they're not cooperating...there's not a lot you can do. It's got to be both sides. But sometimes it helps to just have a frank conversation about it. One friend was really hard to get on the phone. When I told her this was important to me she said 'but I don't have anything to say!' and I told her 'Well, maybe i just need someone to listen!' And we've been able to work it out.
posted by Caravantea at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2010

There's more than 6 billion people on the planet. Take it as a sign, make new friends.
posted by wkearney99 at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2010

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