“I’ve fallen out of touch with a few of my old friends. How can I reach out and reconnect without coming across as awkward or clingy?”
Catching up with old friends online or through text can help us feel reconnected even if we don’t end up meeting in person. In some cases, it can be the first step to rekindling old friendships.
But it can feel incredibly intimidating to reach out to an old friend after a long time of not talking. We risk getting rejected or ignored. Our friend may not be interested in resuming contact with us. They may even express anger towards us.
We also may fear feeling judged. Perhaps we think that we’re not in a good place in life and are afraid that our old friend will look down at us. There’s also the risk that the friendship which used to feel so natural will now feel strange or forced.
This guide will teach you how to initiate contact with a friend after a long time of not being in touch. It includes conversation starters and message examples to give you practical examples of things to say to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.
Before reaching out, ask yourself why you’re reaching out to this person. Do you genuinely miss their presence in your life, or are you just looking for people to hang out with?
It’s also important to ask yourself why this particular friendship ended. If you want to catch up with a friend that hurt you, are you ready to forgive them?
Give yourself time to think before messaging your friend. Make sure you’re trying to reconnect for the right reasons, and not loneliness or because you want to win an old argument.
It might be a good idea to make attempts to meet new people and make friends. That way, it will be easier to know if you’re reaching out to your friend because you truly want them back in your life or whether you’re idealizing the friendship that you had.
Letting your friend know why you’re contacting them can help them feel more comforting and open to reconnecting. It doesn’t have to be anything significant. You can write something like,
- “I saw your post on Facebook and missed you.”
- “I heard this song, and it made me think of you.”
- “I passed by our old school and wondered how you were doing.”
- “I was thinking about how we stopped talking, and I realized I was in the wrong.”
Our guide on how to text someone you haven’t talked to in a long time may help.
If you want to reconnect with a friend that you have ignored or with someone you stopped talking to or hurt in any way, it’s essential to acknowledge your part in what happened.
For example, there’s a difference between saying, “Hi. I know I haven’t spoken to you in a long time. I was going through a tough time,” and saying something like, “Hi. I know I haven’t spoken to you in a long time. I was going through a tough time back then, and I didn’t know how to communicate it. I’m sorry, and I hope we can give our friendship another shot.”
Being accountable for your actions helps people know that you are open to learning from your mistakes and that they can learn to trust you again. However, you can’t rebuild trust or reconnect if you gloss over mistakes and hurts.
For further tips on apologizing and building trust in friendships, read our guide: How to Build Trust in Friendships (And Deal with Trust Issues).
Note that you can only be accountable for yourself. If you’re trying to reconnect with a friend who ghosted you or hurt you in another way, you can’t demand that they apologize or make it up to you.
However, you can share your feelings. You may say or write something like, “when I stopped hearing from you, I felt hurt and confused.”
Reconnecting with a friend after falling out can be tricky. Focus on “your side of the street” as much as possible and let them take care of theirs.
While you can’t demand or expect your friend to apologize, you can decide for yourself that if they don’t seem able to see their side of the conflict, it may not be worth reconnecting after all.
When you’re considering how to text a friend after a long time, you may just want to leave the ball in their court by sending a short message that you’ve missed them. But that doesn’t give your friend much to go on.
Instead, make it easier for them if they want to reconnect. Write a short sentence or two about what’s going on in your life to give them something to build on if they are open to having a conversation.
Make sure not to ramble. You don’t want to dump anything on your friend without first checking if they’re open to hearing more from you.
Asking a few specific questions can let your friend know that you’re interested in them. It helps to show that you remember what was going on in their life.
- Are you still working at X?
- When we last talked, you wanted to take up sculpting. Did you go through with the class?
- Did you ever end up taking that trip you wanted?
End your message with some sort of invitation to reconnect:
- I’d love to hear back from you.
- Would you like to have coffee sometime?
- Are you free to talk about this in person?
While messaging can be a great first step in reconnecting, it’s usually better to talk things through face-to-face. Seeing each other’s body language and hearing the tone of voice minimizes misunderstandings.
We have a guide that will help you ask someone to hang out without being awkward.
It can be tempting to want things to go back to the way they were. But people change. We develop new interests and hobbies. We may have a new career, relationship, or have become new parents since we last spoke to our friends. They might be in a new phase of life and have different priorities.
The time that went by and the things that happened between the two of you will naturally influence the potential friendship you will have with your old friend if you reconnect.
You may find our guides on how to find things in common with people and what to do if you feel like you don’t have anything in common with anyone useful.
It may seem like there is a lot to fit in a reconnecting message: why you’re messaging them, an acknowledgment and apology, a bit about yourself, and asking about them, and showing a desire to keep in touch.
Each part of this “structure” can be around a sentence each so that your overall message will be around a paragraph long.
It’s important to keep your initial message short and sweet to make sure you’re not going to overwhelm the recipient. Be straightforward about your intentions.
For example, your end result may read something like:
“Hi. I was passing by the coffee shop we used to hang out at, and every time I do, I think of you. I have been thinking recently about how we feel out of contact and my part in it. I’d love to get together and talk about what happened if you’re up for it. Are you still living over at X? I’ve changed jobs, and now I’m over at Y, but I can come to meet you if you’re still in that area.”
For more messaging examples, see our article on how to text someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.
Be realistic about what will happen.
Your friend may take some time to get back to you or not reply at all.
You and your old friend may exchange some messages but not be able to rekindle your old friendship.
You may not find the time to meet. Perhaps you’ll discover that you changed in different ways and don’t have much to talk about anymore.
In some cases, your friend may not want to reconnect. Perhaps they are hurt from the way the friendship ended or simply feel too busy to include a new-old friendship in their lives.
Take the time to imagine different possibilities and how you would feel if they happened. It’s important to be aware of the risks. You may decide to wait if you feel that you wouldn’t be able to handle a negative reply right now. In that case, it may be better to wait until you’re feeling more stable.
Be prepared for different outcomes but try not to let fear stop you. Rekindling old friendships can be extremely rewarding
Whether or not you and your friend manage to reconnect, it’s important to reflect on the time you spent together and the lessons you can learn.
If it ended badly between the two of you, and your friend doesn’t want closure or to attempt reconnection, it may be tempting to think that the friendship was a waste of time.
No lessons are wasted. If you’ve had good times with your friend, the relationship wasn’t a waste, even if it didn’t continue.
If the friendship was unhealthy, you may learn how to recognize problems earlier and when to walk away.
It’s possible to reconnect with old friends if both sides show willingness and interest. Take responsibility by sending a message stating that you miss your friend. Take responsibility if you have done anything to hurt them.
Send a message telling your friend that you miss them. Tell them a bit about what you’ve been up to since you last talked and let them know you would like to hear from them or meet up. Acknowledge any unaddressed issues that may have led to your friendship ending.
While you can’t guarantee to get old friends back, you can make attempts to reconnect. Let them know you’re interested in a friendship. Keep in mind that as people change, so do their friendships. Even if you become friends again, your friendship may look different.