I once heard the actress and Goop founder, Gwyneth Paltrow, say that her late father, Bruce Paltrow had once given her good advice: “You can’t make new old friends.”
Because I’m a sucker for nostalgia, I didn’t listen to this advice.
During the initial COVID-19 lockdown, I had a sudden urge to look up a group of girlfriends I’d had during my first two years in high school, but which for various reasons, I hadn’t seen nor spoken to any of them in decades. Up until then, I had never given serious consideration into reconnecting with any of my old friends, especially not after so many years.
I began my social media search, and after a little bit of digging, I found one of my old friends, which then led to me finding the rest of the group.
Can old friends become new friends?
We had been a tight-knit group of seven, each with loads of angst and filled with rebellious spirits that we aimed and unloaded onto the world but which we eventually aimed and unloaded onto one another.
On a quiet, rainy night, I decided to message the first old friend I’d found and was relieved when she wrote back. I remember that I started my message by saying, “I don’t know if you remember me,” which she most surely would and which she did.
Even though her messages were friendly and polite, they were just that. Friendly and polite. Before reconnecting with her, I had let myself go down memory lane, and as it turned out, I had mentally ended up back in 1990. But it was 2020.
Right afterwards, I ended up speaking to one other friend, who caught me up with the others’ lives and filled in some gaps I had of that tumultuous time, which actually did put my mind at ease and answered some lingering questions I’d had. But if I thought that we’d be going to dinner or texting each other on our birthdays, I was mistaken.
It wasn’t that they or that I didn’t want to; it had just been too long. We were different people in different places.
In my experience, Mr. Paltrow was right.
Why should you reconnect with an old friend?
I don’t want to deter you from being friends with someone from your past simply because they’re from your past.
Revisiting your past can lead to delightful or disastrous surprises, but remember that reconnecting with old friends doesn’t always have to be a disappointing experience.
While it’s true that for some people, the momentum of their friendships will have fizzled out, for others, these rekindled relationships can turn into something meaningful and substantial.
There are a lot of people who have reconnected with old friends, either accidentally or intentionally, and it’s been great. These old new friends have been able to pick up where they left off or started something completely new and fresh.
Whether a surprise meeting or a deliberate interaction, there are many reasons to reconnect with an old friend.
- It’s fun to reminisce.
Inside jokes, shared experiences, bad haircuts, and bad boyfriends. It’s fun and funny to look back on your life with friends who were with you along the way.
- There is comfort in the familiar.
There’s something lovely about seeing how your friends have changed and what parts of them have stayed the same.
- Hindsight is 20/20.
With time and experience, you and your old friend can look at things with more clarity and maturity about your past selves. This can be especially powerful when understanding and forgiveness are needed.
Is there something in the stars?
No matter how far and wide our journeys may take us as adults, doesn’t it sometimes feel like we circle back to the beginning of our lives?
For example, have you ever been in one of these scenarios?
- You wander into your favourite coffee shop and bump into your best friend from high school who you hadn’t spoken to in over a decade.
- You hug and find an empty seat where you spend the next hour talking about all your highs and lows from the course of your lifetime while you each cradle and sip your café lattes while following each other on your social media platforms.
- You attend a work function and see your old college roommate who you hadn’t seen nor spoken to since graduation.
- You share photos of your one mutual friend who you still keep in touch with and your recent trip and you both list off your most recent accomplishments and make a lunch date.
- You let nostalgia get the best of you on a sad and lonely evening and start searching on social media for exes of all sorts and send one a message.
- You send a DM and hate yourself in the morning.
Every person and each relationship are unique and so it’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to whether or not you should restart something.
It’s a personal choice with many factors to consider; however, you could start by asking yourself:
- Why do you want to revisit or restart your old friendship?
- What are you hoping to get or feel or confirm?
- Is it in your best interest to reopen your past or is it time to let go?
Is it weird to reconnect with an old friend?
Every individual is different, and each relationship is unique, so you will have to do some deep thinking and evaluate what is best for you and the other person.
Consider the reason, or reasons, for the friendships’ initial demise and be sensitive to the fact that old wounds might not have completely healed. In some cases, your old friend might not want to speak with you, but in other cases, they might. Reopening dialogue is a gamble, and you need to be fully prepared to accept both good and bad reactions.
While some people might find it strange to have a visit from their past, some might enjoy it.
Temporarily, at least.
And so it might not be weird to reconnect with old friends, but it might just not work for various reasons, mainly that too much time has passed and you are different people with different tastes, different priorities, and different lifestyles.
Ultimately, when we revisit past friendships, we revisit our past selves, and we find ourselves wondering what could have been.
The tugging of nostalgia might feel inexplicable until we take action, which we do by reconnecting with people who knew us when we barely knew ourselves.
Maybe revisiting old friendships and the time surrounding them that is an aspect of maturing or making peace with your past. After all, by looking at your past, you not only examine previous relationships, but who you used to be. From there, you can make sense of your decisions, your indecisions, your life.
What is best for you?
Perhaps you’ve reconnected with an old friend, and you’ve enjoyed seeing how you have both matured, and how each of your laughs have stayed the same. Perhaps, you’re still friends and you feel like no time has passed, or perhaps the same issues that initially severed your relationship, sprouted back up.
Whether these new old friendships work out or not, there is a level of comfort in revisiting your past. But not everybody wants to stay there. You have to decide what makes the most sense for you and gauge your comfort level.
And of course, you need to ask yourself, “What is best for me?”
Listen for your answer.
What does your wise, inner-self say?