How To Keep In Touch With Friends

“I love spending time with my friends, but I’m not sure how or when to reach out when we’re apart. What’s the best way to keep in touch with your friends without coming off as needy or annoying?”

If you can relate to this quote, this article is for you. We’ll first cover how to keep in touch with friends, and by the end of the guide, talk about what to do if a friend doesn’t reciprocate.

Why is keeping in touch with friends important?

Regular contact and shared activities keep friendships alive.[1] Confiding in one another and making memories strengthens your bond.[2] In addition, good social relationships are linked with better physical and mental health, so it’s in your best interest to stay in touch with your friends.[3]

How often should you keep in touch with friends?

Try to keep in contact once or twice per week with your close friends. For more casual friends, try to reach out once per month. For acquaintances or friends you aren’t particularly close to, reach out at least twice every year.

These guidelines are a useful starting point, but you might need to adjust them to suit your friends’ personalities and communication styles. For example, your introverted friends might prefer occasional in-depth conversations to regular light chats or messages.

You also need to consider what you need from each friendship. For example, if you are happy to keep the relationship casual, reaching out occasionally is fine. But if you want to become closer to someone, you’ll need to get in touch more often.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to stay in contact with your friends, including those who live far away.

1. Feel free to reach out just to catch up

By definition, if you’re friends with someone it means you enjoy talking to each other and hanging out. The fact that you haven’t seen your friend for a while is a good enough reason to get in touch.

However, sometimes it feels easier to start a conversation if you have a specific purpose in mind. You could:

  • Contact them to give an update on a major event in your life, such as graduating college or getting married.
  • Reach out on special occasions and anniversaries such as their birthday.
  • Message them when you see something that reminds you of them or a memory you have shared together.
  • Ask them to do a specific activity together.

2. Get into the habit of reaching out

Set aside some time every week to call, message, or write to your friends. Make it part of your routine. This might sound like a lot of work, especially when you’re an introvert, but your friendships require two-way communication to thrive. It’s like exercising: you might not want to do it all the time, but you’ll probably be glad you make the effort afterwards. Put reminders in your diary or calendar so you know who to contact and when.

3. Escape the avoidance cycle

Here’s how the avoidance cycle goes:

  1. You feel bad because you haven’t reached out to your friend in a long time.
  2. The idea of calling your friend makes you feel awkward because you don’t know how to explain why you’ve been quiet.
  3. You keep avoiding them, even though you miss them, because you aren’t sure what to say. The cycle continues.

The best solution is to take the initiative and reach out. If you are both introverts, you might end up in a deadlock. Somebody needs to make a move first. Your friend might be wishing that you’d get in touch with them.

When you reach out, apologize for not contacting your friend. Tell them that you’ve missed them, and that you’d like to talk or hang out again. Most people will be willing to give you another chance.

4. Be flexible

Sometimes, it’s hard to find enough time for a good conversation, but if you and your friend are both committed to staying in touch, you can find creative solutions. For example, if you have a friend with a hectic schedule, you could talk or message:

  • While they are traveling to or from work
  • During their lunch hour
  • While they make dinner
  • When they are waiting around for their kids to finish an after-school activity

5. Nurture your long-distance friendships

“I’m not sure how to stay in touch with long-distance friends. We can’t hang out since they moved away. How can I keep our friendship strong?”

Any of the following can help you stay in touch with long-distance friends:

  • Phone calls
  • Video calls
  • Instant messaging apps
  • Social media
  • Letters and postcards; this sounds old-fashioned, but it’s exciting to get mail, especially mail from overseas
  • Emails

Try to go beyond sharing news. Spend quality time with your friend online. For example, you could:

  • Play online games
  • Watch a movie online and talk about it afterwards
  • Follow online tutorials together during a video call
  • Take a virtual tour of an online gallery or museum
  • Learn a language online and practice together
  • Plan a trip if you have the time and money. This gives you both something to look forward to.

6. Rekindle past friendships

“How can I get in touch with a friend after a long time? I haven’t seen my old friends who’ve moved abroad for many years. What should I say to them?”

If you’d be pleased to hear from your old friend, there’s a chance they’d be happy to hear from you. However, be prepared for the possibility that they’ve moved on. It might not be personal. For example, perhaps they hated high school and would rather not speak to anyone from that period in their life.

Send them a short, friendly message via email or on social media. Ask them how they are, and give a quick update on your life. If they are pleased to hear from you, suggest catching up via video call or, if they live nearby, meeting up for a coffee.

Bear in mind that if they think you have an ulterior motive for getting touch, they might be reluctant to rekindle your friendship. For example, if you recently split up with your partner, they might assume that you are only getting in touch because you feel lonely. Keep your messages thoughtful and show a genuine interest in what they’ve been doing since you last spoke can reassure them that you are sincere.

7. Keep in touch through social media

Social networking is no substitute for face to face interaction with family and friends, but it can keep relationships going when you’re apart.[4]

  • Take the time to reach out to people individually instead of sending mass updates or messages to everyone. Generic measures don’t encourage the kind of self-disclosure you need in close friendships.
  • Leave meaningful comments on posts rather than just giving likes or leaving emojis.
  • Social media is great for staying in touch with friends after high school or after college. Often, friends move away after graduation, but setting up a group chat or private group page can help everyone stay in touch.
  • If you and your friends are creative and enjoy sharing ideas, start a joint Pinterest board and encourage everyone to contribute to it.

You can keep in touch without Facebook and other social media platforms. If you don’t like social networking, you can call, text, use messaging apps, or send letters instead.

However, if you don’t have social media, you might miss out on big updates, such as a friend’s engagement. When you get in touch with your friends, remind them that you don’t use social media and ask them to fill you in on any big changes in their lives.

If you don’t have a phone or computer, check out your local library or community center. They usually have facilities you can use for little or no cost. Or you could ask a friend or family member you see in person if you can borrow theirs.

8. Keep your conversations positive

Research shows that staying positive helps maintain friendships.[1] You don’t have to pretend to be happy all the time, but try to lift your friends up whenever possible. You can do this by:

  • Asking them what is going well in their lives, and sharing in their excitement when they hit big milestones.
  • Complimenting them on their successes.
  • Reminding them of their strengths and encouraging them to think positively when they are facing a challenge.
  • Choosing to talk positive rather than negative events in your life.
  • Telling them how much you appreciate having them as a friend, especially when they help you out.

The better you make people feel, the more likely they are to stay in touch with you.

9. Understand why someone might not reciprocate

“I can’t help feeling like my friends don’t really want to talk to me. Why am I the only one keeping in touch? Am I doing something wrong?”

Some of your friends might genuinely be too busy to talk or hang out. For example, they may have recently moved home or are preparing for a new baby. Others might be struggling with personal problems like depression, and socializing may not be a priority for them right now.

However, if people keep cutting you off, you might need to improve your social skills. Ask yourself whether you’re making any of these common mistakes:

  • Only talking about your problems; this can be tiring for other people.
  • Only calling when you want or need help; this can make other people feel as though they are being used.
  • Only getting in touch when you have broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend; this can make you come across as flaky.
  • Holding one-sided conversations; good friends have balanced back-and-forth conversations and are genuinely interested in one another’s lives.
  • Messaging or calling too often. As a general rule, do not keep trying to get in contact if they have already ignored two of your attempts.

This article may help you identify the problem: “Why Do People Stop Talking To Me?”

How to have better conversations

  • If you are calling a friend, start by asking whether they have time to talk. It’s generally best to message them in advance to fix a time. If it’s not a convenient time, reschedule.
  • Ask for updates that relate to your previous conversation. For example, if your friend said they were nervous about a date when you last spoke, ask them how it went.
  • Balance self-disclosure with questions. Every few minutes, check that you are doing enough speaking and listening.
  • Move beyond small talk. If you want some ideas for meaningful conversation topics, see this list of 107 deep questions to ask your friends.

What to do if a friend doesn’t reciprocate

Changing your communication style can help you keep friends. But even if you have great social skills, you might find yourself in a one-sided friendship where you have to initiate every conversation and arrange every meetup. In this situation, you have several options.

Option #1: Have a frank discussion and ask them to take a more active role in your friendship

If you know each other well, this may work. Your friend might not have realized that the friendship has become unbalanced. A calm, honest talk may solve the problem. Use “I” rather than “you” statements. Tell them how you feel, and what you would like from them.

For example:

“When I have to initiate all our conversations, I feel like our friendship is more important to me than it is to you. Would you be willing to get in touch with me more often?”

For more tips, read this guide on how to navigate difficult conversations.

Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work in most cases. Your friend might become defensive or feel pressured and grow resentful. Plus, you can’t make someone like you or want to spend time with you. You don’t want someone to hang out with you from a sense of obligation.

Option #2: Give them some space and expand your social circle

You may have read or heard that it’s best to cut someone out of your life completely if your friendship becomes unbalanced.

But if you genuinely like them, there’s no need to write your friend off forever. Some people are likable but unreliable. They might come and go over the years. If you can accept them for who they are, you can enjoy the good times without taking their behavior personally.

Option #3: Focus on other friendships

Instead of cutting people out, focus on growing your social circle. Make new friends instead of worrying about what your old friends are doing. If you reunite later, that’s a bonus. The more friends you have, the less desperate you’ll be to win the attention of any one person.

Read more in our complete guide on how to make friends.

Show references +

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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Comments

  1. I recently graduated from university & face these problems a lot these days. My best friends are mixed introverts & the problems of keeping in touch are so real, especially when you’re the one always initiating or when your friends live far away/work in distant areas.
    Thanks for this piece; it was quite useful.

    Reply

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