Even good friendships are susceptible to derailing. How Can We Rekindle a Friendship with a Friend That Use to Be Close?
My answer …
The first thing to consider is why has this happened and do you really want to make the effort to renew the friendship. I’m assuming by this point the friendship has gradually declined, you’ve taken some initiative but the friendship seems to have stalled.
Good friendships do not chug along consistently throughout life. We need to accept that and be understanding. We also need to keep in mind that the ‘coldness’ we feel could be misleading. The most important question as far as I’m concerned is has the NATURE and STATUS of this friendship changed and if so how much? There’s a huge difference between a close friend who is highly distracted by life but still values your friendship a great deal to someone who has deliberately taken several steps back in the friendship for unknown reasons.
If a good friend remains true but is seeing a lot less of me because he has started a new business, is dating someone he is serious about or has a different lifestyle to me I’m fine with that though naturally disappointed. I’ll take what I can get and happily continue the friendship. If the friendship has entered a different season then perhaps the thing to do is to give them another hundred yards of rope. If this is the case though let him or her know that you are still keen on his or her company and perhaps find a small niche where you can get together. It might be for the occasional movie, the Whiskey Fair that comes annually to your city or a hike once a month.
If a close friend loses his or her ‘close’ status I’ll continue the friendship but I will go out and seek someone to fill that gap in my life. Someone who I have a special connection with and who can have a greater presence in my life. That what I need.
Here are some scenarios from my own life.
One particularly good friend started to see me less. His work and his lifestyle were the cause. Initially, it bothered me as long times would pass before I saw him and at the time I was depressed and lonely. When he found out I was troubled by it he kept in contact with me more. Bless him. He always made me feel that he appreciated my friendship and he made time to meet up with me now-and-then. I ended up reducing significantly the amount of social events I invited him to though as he wasn’t that responsive. Knowing that the nature of the friendship hadn’t change made it much easier to accept the situation.
Another good friend of mine made me feel as though he had taken seven steps back in our friendship. He used to be a fervent friend but then he became mellow. I tried to revive the friendship but it didn’t work out partly because he moved to another city not too long afterwards. He struck me as somewhat careless in the end and I got the feeling he valued my friendship a lot less than before. When I can no longer recognize a friend because the nature of the friendship has changed I’ll give it a pass and move on. I never burn bridges though so the friend can easily come back into my life if they show some initiative and interest.
A third friendship wasn’t that close but serves as a good example of another scenario. It was a co-worker who had recently moved to my city and only knew one other person. We ended up spending a fair amount of time together till his circle of friends grew and he found a girlfriend. He no doubt gravitated towards other friendships and I got the feeling that I had been dumped. With friends who are like this I usually scale down my initiative with them till it’s at the same level as there’s. If their initiative hits rock bottom I will simply leave the ball in their court and walk away.
In the past I have admittedly always made an effort to rekindle friendships that were going south. Here are some ideas on how to do it.
Tell one of your close friends that you are taking him (her) out for dinner. Prepare a special gift that you know he will like. It’s a subtle way of impressing upon a friend how much you appreciate his friendship. Don’t be surprised if you’re friend says to you. “It’s good to see you again. We must meet up more often.” In addition to this, consider what your friend’s interests and hobbies are, find out what social groups do those things locally and suggest you check the group out together. Alternatively, if your friend joins a certain social group every weekend express an interest in checking it out. “That sounds interesting. I’d like to try that out. Mind if I join you this weekend?”
Another option is to invite him to your home, prepare a special meal and tell him you’ve been having a look at some old photos of the two of you and your friends. Do a slide show on your HDTV and reminisce about the golden years you shared. Then try to direct the conversation to ideas on something both of you could do in the near future.
Then there’s the direct approach. A close friend of mine recently told me he hoped we could meet up more often. I made a mental note of it and have been taking more initiative with him of late.
In conclusion, my experience has taught me that it can be difficult to rekindle a friendship. It seems highly unlikely that one can revisit the glorious peaks he or she once dwelt on with a friend. Life moves on… and so must we.