Time and life have a way of creating distance between people, both physically and figuratively. Having children, moving away and starting a new career can all create a divide in friendships that once felt so solid. Sometimes those friendships are meant to fade away, but often there are opportunities for restoring them, even years down the line.
Consider the reasons this friendship dissipated and the role you played in allowing it to fall apart. Think about whether you have some apologies to offer up and how you can explain your shifting priorities over the years without making excuses. Reflect on whether your old friend is likely to be open and available for a reconnection and how best to make that happen.
Contact your friend directly if you still share social connections. Wait until you see each other at the next event, and then suggest getting together for coffee sometime to catch up. If there were more dramatic circumstances behind your friendship ending, explain that you would love the opportunity to discuss the situation and apologize for the part you played in the end of the relationship.
Utilize social networking to connect with your old friend if you don’t see each other in daily life. CNN reporters Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich suggest sending a Facebook friend request along with a sweet note regarding your desire to catch up. Rely on an old-fashioned e-mail if you can’t find your friend online.
Sit back and allow your old friend the opportunity to respond once you've extended your request for reconnection. While you've been contemplating this reconnection for a while now, your friend may still need some time to process the possibility, explains Irene S. Levine, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Don't be too pushy.
Arrange to get together for coffee or lunch once you hear back from your friend. Keep the first outing short and sweet, allowing for time to catch up without too many awkward silences. Extend any apologies you owe right at the start so that the rest of your time together can be spent engaging in more pleasant conversations.
Be patient. Don’t expect things to immediately return to how they once were. It takes time to reignite a friendship and rebuild trust, according to Dr. Daniel Shapiro, psychologist and co-author of “Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate.” You may be different people now from when you were once so close, and you'll both need to put in some effort get to know each other again from scratch.