Is it ever too late to reconnect with an old best friend?
March 3, 2011 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Is it ever too late to reconnect with an old best friend? More details inside.

I used to have a best friend - P. He was awesome and we had the best times together, just the two of us but also with his boyfriend and other mutual friends. We saw each other several times a week, every weekend, went on vacations together, went out, stayed in, laughed and had tons of fun. I was in my late teens and he was in his early twenties.

Then one day we were at a party with a mutual friend, N, and I met one of N's acquaintances, B, and we got along well. We started to hang out together - all the while I was still best friends with P. So here is the problem: P didn't really like B. Also, at this time, B and I and some other friends started doing drugs recreationally on the weekends. P didn't approve of this. Over the next few months, P and I started to see each other less and less, and I saw B more and more. P and I would still hang out once in a while, but it was never the same as before. I tried to call, arrange for us to hang out, and we did but he never reciprocated and called me. After a while it faded out.

This was three and a half years ago. The first two years, I went out a lot, had friends whom I partied hard with but would only see on the weekends. Then, it got pretty old for me and I started to not want to go out as much. Now, I realize that the people who are my friends I don't really connect with on a weekday basis, even though I try to see them outside of a party setting. I miss the connection I had with P and some of the other people I was close with back then.

I always assumed that it was the drug thing that made P not want to be friends with me anymore, or maybe jealousy over my friendship with B(?) Then a year or so ago I found out that at least now he is good friends with one of my acquiantances, who also does a lot of drugs (more than I ever did). I rarely do it anymore but have not completely stopped (maybe one night every three months). I am still friends with B, though, who has also stopped doing drugs - but again, the connection is just not the same.

So now to the question. Do you think it's possible for me to reconnect with P? We are Facebook friends and I see pictures of P and his boyfriend and other friends, and I just feel really sad that I'm not a part of that anymore. If it's not too late, how should I go about it? If it is, what should I do with my friendship situation of okay-but-not-really-great friends?

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am a girl and P and N are both gay guys. I have a boyfriend and there are no (misdirected) romantic feelings in this, just strong friendship feelings. Also, we all live in the same city. This is anonymous since my MeFi name is the same as other profiles I use with IRL friends.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't sound like it would be too soon to try to become better friends with P again, but it would be good to go in without high expectations, and to do something casual / in a group first to see if you guys reconnect - I'm unclear on how okay your friendship is now.

It's pretty much always ok to send an old friend a message that says "I miss you. Any chance you want to go do X sometime soon?".
posted by ldthomps at 6:00 AM on March 3, 2011

[changed OP title from "too soon" to "too late" sorry for the confusion.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2011

Hmmmm.... I dunno. I'll admit to being biased because one of the great disappointments of Facebook for me is that "reconnecting" with ex-friends beyond accepting a friend request and them telling me hi once has just not happened. I doubt it helps when they've moved to other towns/married and had kids either, because life has moved on for them more than it has for me. Facebook can be such a token "friendship" and it can get your hopes up when there really isn't anything left any more.

Here's the thing: how likely are you to see P in real life? How close does he live to you? How much can your lives overlap here so that you can more naturally flow into a situation where you see him more often? Is there anything happening in real life that can facilitate your slipping into more of an actual friendship with him again?

You can always give it a shot. We don't know why P stopped being friends with you per se (maybe you act differently when wasted than you do normally and it got on his nerves?), and you can certainly ask/try. I just wouldn't go in with huge expectations. Take it slow and gentle. Recapturing the past/nostalgia is a difficult thing and you may not be able to pull it off, but maybe you could forge a new friendship.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:15 AM on March 3, 2011

First, close friendships change a lot at that age and often come and go with alarming speed. I went through something similar with my best friend from high school in our late teens, and lower-key versions with several other close friends. It might be that P was going through some sort of change you don't know about, for instance. Or it might just have been that you two needed some time apart for whatever reason. So if you're taking this personally, or thinking it's necessarily because of something you did, I would try to avoid that line of thinking.

That said, I would just give him a call or drop him a line letting you know you miss him, or it's been a while, or however you feel comfortable expressing it. And then ask him to get coffee or a drink to catch up.
posted by lunasol at 6:20 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with lunasol; tell him you'd like to catch up. I've lost touch with many of my friends as the years pass, and often I've worried that it's because of something I said or did. But the times that I've reached out have been received positively, never once has someone said "I don't want to see you!" I think the reason friendships fade is not so much because someone has decided they don't like the other friend, but because neither friend makes the first move to reconnect. Most likely P is missing you too and would be happy if you said hi.
posted by moutonoir at 6:52 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd try to have, say, brunch, one on one if you can swing it, and I'd up-front ask what happened. There might be something you can apologize for, might not.

In the meantime, I'd hide him from your news feed--it hurts like hell to see social stuff you're not included in, and there's no reason to do that to yourself.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:45 AM on March 3, 2011

Friendships are tricky -- in some ways trickier than (for lack of a better term) dating relationships because, unlike them, more often they end without a breakup . Even very close best friendships sometimes end without any definable reason or break point - it's a combination of things over a slow drift and suddenly you realize one day somebody who was an integral part of your life is no where to be found.

(I have a theory that this is why we place so much importance on these monogamous pairing dating relationships - because you're expected to set rules.)

So as you want to reconnect with P, you want something to fix. Your instinct is to go all relationship-C.S.I. and sift through the past to find a reason for why things happened the way they did. And maybe there is a reason -- one specific thing or problem -- and if you apologized for that (if you feel it's something you did wrong) or explained why this thing shouldn't be a problem (if there's nothing to apologize for), everything could go back to the way things were.

Maybe this would work. But I'm going to recommend you try to stop trying to fix something and instead try to re-establish from where you are now. You're both different people -- you can change a lot over three years and it's even more likely at your age. But you still miss this person and want to be a part of his life. So let him know that.

I think it's best not to make a big production of it. This can make people feel really uncomfortable and he may view things entirely differently than you. He may feel that you left him behind or that the choice to not be friends any longer was something you initiated. Again, because friendships don't tend to have big dramatic breakups, we tend to remember what happened through the way we view them. It might not even be that big of deal for him -- you were once friends, and now, for whatever reasons, you aren't. That happens a lot. So for you to initiate contact like an ex, it could really make him feel unnerved or defensive.

So just say "hey" and ask him how things are and let him know what you've been up to and say that, for whatever reason, you've been thinking about him and would love to get together. Worst case -- he's not interested and he doesn't let you know why. This will probably sting, but at least you've given it your best shot and you've told a person who you cared about that you were important to him -- which is a kindness you should be happy to give. Better cases -- you get together and play it by ear.

Remember though that you are establishing a new friendship -- though you have a past, with this much of a break, it can't possibly go back to where it was previously. Maybe you'll find that the person he is isn't somebody you want to be friends with anymore. But at least you've given it a shot.

The only time it's too late to reconnect is... well, pretty morbid. But at any rate, the sooner, the better.

And good luck!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

i stopped hanging out with some close friends because 1) i stopped being into the party lifestyle and 2) i didn't like someone they always hung out with so would not show up to events he was at (no jealousy, more like he made me uncomfortable due to having once told a boyfriend of mine he wanted to bang me =_=). so i'm speaking from the point of view of someone who stopped hanging out with people because they wouldn't stop hanging out with someone i didn't like and i didn't feel like being part of that anymore. your friend could be like that too.

if they wanted to reconnect without the party lifestyle and the douchebag dude i would be for it. you can try to slowly renew the friendship. it may not be the same. it could be worse, it could be better. if there's a chance for it to be better, why not try?
posted by raw sugar at 8:28 AM on March 3, 2011

I have always found it difficult going back - because you can't really go back to where you were, those feelings that you had can't exist here now or in the future they can only exist in the past.

Any attempt I've made to go back from a nostalgia perspective has failed miserably and ultimately sullied all the good stuff.

We generally like the familiar and so have a tendency to want to return to the familiar because it is at least easier to feel comfortable with that than something new, which is much more confronting. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable, but sometimes that comfort's more an idea than a reality.

This is quite different to unfinished business. Sometimes I feel like I have unfinished business with people I've been friends with before - that's definitely not a nostalgia thing, that's seeing these people as somehow integral to the future.

Which means you really have to think of the relationship as being a completely new relationship if it's going to work successfully. Which is hard, because this new relationship might be worse than it was before. But, it could also be a better one.
posted by mleigh at 9:11 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's never too late to try! You might or might not be successful in building a new super-close friendship, but there's only one way to find out.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:52 PM on March 3, 2011

I have two friends that I've lost contact with for at least 3 years, and successfully "re-friended". Both frindships kinda faded away due to moving in different circles and life getting in the way, one of them partly facilitated by my (former) penchant for partying and such-and-such.

But I rang one out of the blue and arranged a catch-up, and we picked up pretty much where we left off. No hard feelings, a little bit of regret on either side that we hadn't kept in better contact, and promises to stay in touch, which we have done.

The other I ran into just the other week on the street, not even realising that we now lived pretty close to each other, and even worked in the same industry. And yeah we're now keeping in better contact than we have the last few years

I've noticed with good friends, even if I havn't seen them for months or years, I can pick up where I left off pretty easily.
posted by robotot at 8:42 PM on March 3, 2011

I've recconnected with friends after a decade of not seeing each other - and it was worth the try. Ask P to go for coffee, just the two of you. It's a good way to talk.
posted by jb at 10:52 PM on March 4, 2011

I'd say at the very lease keep in touch and be sure P has your contact info (should it ever change). Even if it just means dropping him a line once and awhile that may go unanswered. I had a close friend with whom I feel out of touch with 15 years ago who seems to have dropped of the face of the Earth. Last year I tried every mutual contact we had and have not been able to find him. We both have moved and changed jobs quite a bit over the years, but if I had made more of n effort to keep him up to date perhaps he would have done the same.
posted by evilelf at 7:39 AM on March 7, 2011

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