I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of close personal friends. Yes, I’m friends with my neighbors. Yes, I have a ton of internet friends. And yes, I’ll say “hello” to just about anybody I recognize in the grocery store (most of the time, anyways). But, I much prefer a few great friends I can really count on over dozens of good acquaintances any day of the week. Truthfully, I have found it hard to make a lasting connection with many people along the way because they have misrepresented themselves, turned on me, or even betrayed me. I’m a really jaded thirty-something. Having said all that, I’m here to tell you why you should rekindle old friendships and knowing when not to.
Recently, a childhood girlfriend reached out to me when I commented on her Facebook post and said “This might sound silly, but I feel like we should really be friends again in real life”. I agreed immediately and we set up lunch plans for the following week. We have stayed cordial after our parents had a falling out when we were teens, but never really reconnected. Now that we’re adults, I see no reason why our parents’ disagreements should be ours in any way. It sounds cheesy, but rekindling our old friendship has given me a little bit of faith in humans again. So why should YOU rekindle an old friendship?
Childhood was much more simple
Do you remember how you made friends back when you were a child? I’m not talking highschool here. You know, back before you worried about bills, boys or your BMI? Back then, you made friends with someone based on mutual interests. Not because she was the “cool girl” that had the right shoes or hair. You didn’t worry about what lunch table you two sat at or whether she would remember that you already wore those jeans that week. When you are younger and unburdened by life’s dictates, you make friends based on what you actually like about a person.
My girlfriend and I initially became friends because we both liked making mud pies in the creek behind our school’s playground. While the other girls were taking turns on the swing set and the boys were playing tag, we were sacrificing fashion for our craft. We didn’t care that the rules said we should be perfect little ladies in our ruffly dresses. We cared about shorts under our dresses so we could squat in the mud and create things. I still like to make a mess and be creative. Which brings me to my next point.
Core values don’t change much as you age
Am I a different person than she met in the creek over two decades ago? Ummm, yeah. I’m not covered in mud and my mother no longer dresses me, even though she wants to. But, my core values haven’t really changed. I’m not talking about “treat everybody with respect” (which is an important value). I’m talking more about my intricacies that distinguish me from everybody else. Like the fact that I’m not much for convention, I’m fiercely loyal to the ones I love, and I put my whole heart into most everything I do (except housework).
I value all those things in my friend too. I recognized those attributes in her when we were young girls, and we both still possess them today. Ultimately, the things that brought you together as children quite possibly could make for an excellent adult relationship; should you choose to rekindle it. But beware; not everybody is refriending material. If one of her core values is the reason you stopped being friends in the first place, it might not be a good idea.
Knowing when not to rekindle a friendship
I think we can all safely agree that you shouldn’t rekindle a friendship with someone who has been convicted of multiple felonies, works sixty hours a week, or wrote a tell-all book about her family. Those are easy calls to make. Not your circus, not your problem. Wish her the best and move on. What about cases that aren’t so clear? Try to recall why you are no longer friends. Did your parents not get along, like ours? Maybe another friend came between you? Did you just grow apart when your life changed? Those are all relatively low hurdles to overcome now that you’re both adults.
But what if she hurt you in some way? Was she always taking from your relationship and never giving back? Did she betray your trust or use you for her own gain? What about getting you into trouble or even putting you in danger? All of these situations speak to a person that might not value you or your friendship as much as you deserve. In that case, don’t confuse nostalgia for a friendship in need of rekindling. By all means, forgive her for her past transgressions and wish her well, but don’t let that negativity back in. Friendships should always be a contributing factor in your life, rather than a draining factor in your life. If it’s more work than reward, you’re better off without it.
Go take a look at your Facebook friends and figure out who on your friend list you might need to rekindle a REAL friendship with!