How do you keep in touch with a friend without a good reason?

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When I was in my early 20’s I was afraid of contacting people if I didn’t have a specific reason to do so.

When I was on the phone with friends and acquaintances, I didn’t want anyone to be bored or annoyed so I always tried to keep it short. Especially, I was afraid it would get awkward. So I stuck strictly to the topic and ended the call as soon as possible.

Why some are just annoying when they contact you without a reason

There was this one guy in my social circle. He would call me to talk about his ideas and personal problems. He could go on forever about it.

At first, I thought it was kind of interesting to listen to him. But eventually, I noticed that he wasn’t really interested in what I was up to or what I was thinking. He never asked me how I was doing.

It was always about him and his thoughts.

Even if he was a nice guy at heart, I started to avoid his calls.

Then I met my friend Oscar – he was GREAT at keeping in touch

He sometimes called me for no reason other than to talk. At first, this made me quite uncomfortable.

I always tried my best to come up with something to talk about to avoid awkward silence. When I couldn’t, I tried to end the call prematurely.

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I didn’t want him to feel bored or annoyed that I couldn’t come up with anything interesting to say.

I gradually got more comfortable. We could sometimes talk for over 3 hours.

I started to understand that you don’t need to stick to any special reason or task when talking with friends on the phone. (It can even be easier to open up over the phone than in real life.)

The funny thing is, this insight made me notice that almost all of my other friends were just as uncomfortable with long phone conversations as I was before.

Most of us are afraid to keep in touch without a “reason”. But staying in touch is something we need to get to know people! This fear stops us from having close relationships.

If we do it wrong, we come off as weird and annoying.

What my friend Oscar does differently

When Oscar called me, he let me know that he just wanted to check in.

Hey Viktor. I called just to say hello and see how you’re doing.”

That made it clear he didn’t have any hidden reasons for calling, like asking for a favor or wanting to meet up.

He then made sure that I wasn’t busy.

“Are you into something or are you free to talk? I can call later if you’re busy!”

By doing that, he showed respect.

When the weird guy I mentioned before contacted me, it was a one-sided friendship. It was only about him. Oscar was interested in what I was up to and what happened in my life.

He actually helped me a lot with some personal problems I needed to talk about during that period. We also talked about his personal problems. It was mutual. We both enjoyed our talks.

It felt like Oscar has an “alarm” in his head that beeps when he’s spent too much time in his own world and too little in mine. When that alarm goes off, he says something to balance up the conversation:

“Well, enough about me. How’s it going with your plants? Did those avocados you talked about last time sprout?”

Or

“…so because of that, I would rather live in Los Angeles than Miami. What about you, where would you rather live?”

That’s the difference between an annoying and a good conversation – you want to make it mutual:

People mainly get bored or annoyed when someone’s calling them to talk about things they aren’t that interested in. When you ask genuine questions about them, they’ll find the conversation more valuable.

When it comes to acquaintances and coworkers (that I would like to make closer friends with) I seize the opportunity to bond whenever something comes up that I need to discuss with them.

It could be asking about something they are proficient in. Or, if they want to join me for some group activity.

Then after we’ve taken care of whatever the reason for the call was, I try making some mutual conversation.

Quite quickly, you’ll notice if they add to the conversation and want to talk more. (Unless people are stressed, they are surprisingly interested in talking as long as the conversation is balanced.)

Read more: How to make conversation more interesting.

Have you had any similar experiences with keeping in touch? I’d love to read what you think, comment below!

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

Go to Comments (15)

15 thoughts on “How do you keep in touch with a friend without a good reason?”

  1. Yes I have avoided reaching out to someone I knew because I had no apparent reason to. Didn’t want to come across as desperate for friendship or needy.

    It doesn’t always make sense but sometimes it takes courage to reach out to acquaintances who could be close friends and friends who could be a lot closer if you would just talk more.

    Then there are the people who will not answer the phone cause they prefer text then they text conversation with you lol.

    Reply
  2. I tried doing this all the way,everytime got the same result ,people just talk at the moment and they don’t look back again!This just ended up making me look desperate since I texted them everyday to meet them .They never even think of me once to ask to join them for a group activity which can actually help bonding with them.It just pains my heart how people don’t even care to look at my face while talking or don’t even think of joining them for a party though we meet almost every other day!! I started feeling sorry for my son who could end up being like me,he is two yr old but that lil one unfortunately don’t even know how it’s like to attend a bday party,since no one actually invites us.My heart is crying for him and I feel hell lot of regret and sorry for him for having a mother like me who is always outcasted ,and all the trials end up crashing down even before I try best.

    Reply
    • You throw a big party for him at a park or somewhere. Don’t worry he is young. Don’t feel bad. I was a stay at home mom and my kid went to his first birthday party around five years old.

      It will all work out you are probably investing in the wrong people. The right people will think of you. I know how it is. I use to have the same situation all the time.

      It can get better don’t beat your self up in fact start to see how unique and cool you are. I bet you will attract the right kind of people in your life the more you appreciate who you are and what value you bring.

      Reply
  3. I have the opposite problem, I reach out to former and continuous people in my life, and I feel as though I am clapping one handed. It’s a one sided event, unless, I reach out again. I always inquire about their lives, contribute some on my own, to help with balance. It’s always been that way. How do I change this? If I don’t reach out, I don’t speak with anyone.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • I feel ya. Continuously the one who reaches out. Beats loneliness though. I have a select few who contact me when I have not reached out sometimes it just takes time.

      Reply
  4. You know, Viktor, this is probably the most important rule of thumb in social interactions. In my opinion, ideally every conversation would be mutual; it’s supposed to be a two-way street, right? I can’t really stress that enough: in order for a conversation to be enjoyable and pleasant, it needs to be mutual or balanced in some way. This is something I’ve been getting at lot better at recently, just by storing this to my long-term memory. Like Oscar, I’m very alert about this, and I always want a conversation to be a pleasant exchange between me and whomever I’m meeting with. This is a huge game changer, something that even social butterflies might fail to understand or remember. If it’s not mutual or balanced, it most likely will not go well. I feel like it would make a world of a difference if everybody learned this. I will always remind myself of this.

    Reply
  5. This article really hit home for me. Every sentence was relatable to my own life. However, one thing I personally struggle with in terms of keeping in touch with friends is actually meeting up with them. Often times a friend will say “We should hang out” or hint at hanging out (“Did you hear about that new movie? We should go watch it sometime”). When I tell them to call or text me, they never do. Is this because they are afraid or am I doing something wrong?

    Reply
    • That’s good to hear! Great question! Instead of saying “call/text me”, try setting a date either immediately or text them yourself later that day and try to set a date. If your friend already said they want to hang out, it’s up to you to reciprocate that and show that you want to hang out too 🙂 They may feel pushy/needy if they have to take all the initiative.

      Reply
    • You need to set up a time and place when they hint or it becomes a cold lead. Strike when the iron is hot they say.

      Reply
    • It depends on how your relationships are right now and which person in your family you are thinking of?

      If your relationship is very bad, some simple questions won’t do much until you solve the underlying conflicts (which is not always possible).

      But in general, I’d say try to be curious about them. How did they grow up? How was their relationship to their parents? What were their dreams as teens, what are their dreams now?

      Reply
  6. Hey! My best friend and I always have amazing, mutual conversations. However, he usually calls me first. I think this is because he is normally busy. I know that he is a very busy adult, so I hesitate to call him because I don’t want to interrupt anything that he is doing. What can I do about this?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • In what way is he busy? What happens when you call? What is it that occupies his mind so much, maybe you can help him there or reduce his stress somehow? It’s hard to give useful advice without more background info.

      If he’s at work, you need to find better times to talk.

      Since you are having such amazing conversations already, maybe the best thing is asking him about it?

      Reply
    • Just text him and ask when his schedule is more open that you would like to plan ahead the best time to reconnect and see how things are going for him lately.

      Reply

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