How to Nurture Your Oldest Friendships
Because you can still be close in heart, no matter how many miles (or years!) separate you.
Those she’s-got-your-back soulmates are the best. In fact, studies have found that good pals don’t just make us happier; they keep us healthier. But maintaining friendships can be hard as our lives evolve. Here, some advice to keep the spark alive with longtime pals.
You’re navigating long-distance.
Random reminders of how much you care fill in the cracks between calls and get-togethers. “Small acts celebrate your connection,” says Deborah Tannen, PhD, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University and the author of You’re the Only One I Can Tell. See a pillow she’d like while browsing Etsy? Send it. Love a new podcast? Share it. Says Shasta Nelson, author of Frientimacy: “Remember how easy friendship was as a kid? That’s because consistency was automatic when we were in the same camp cabin or class,” she says. “Later, we have to create the consistency.”
You’re a frequent texter. She’s a social media poster.
If you and your pal aren’t on the same page about how to communicate, start a conversation about the logistics of keeping in touch. “One friend can feel close just seeing Facebook updates, while another might feel rejected without regular calls,” says Tannen. Make a plan and stick to it.
You’ve been out of contact and want to rekindle your bond.
“Reconnecting with old friends can be so rewarding,” says Nelson. Her advice is to be the first to call or email. Be a little vulnerable. Tell her you miss her and share what prompted you to reach out, especially if she might be caught off guard. For example, says Nelson, maybe you were dropping your kid off at college and remembered your time as roommates. Tell her you regret falling out of touch. “We can pick up and rebuild this incredibly meaningful relationship that would be hard to replicate if we were just meeting someone new,” says Nelson.