Many people love to contact old friends from high school, college, or work, but they feel scared. And that is why I wrote this article to help you out.
After reading this in-depth guide, you feel much more at ease and comfortable and have more clarity on what to do next. So let’s start unpacking right away!
Reasons Why You’re Afraid To Contact Old Friends
First, let’s dive into the reasons why you’re afraid to contact old friends because this will give you some clarity in this situation. There are some obvious reasons that you might be aware of on a conscious level, but there is a deeper reason on a more unconscious level that makes you scared to contact old friends, which I will reveal later in this article. Below, I’ve listed the more obvious reasons that might sound familiar to you:
- You’re afraid of awkward moments where you don’t have anything to talk about.
- You were bullied in your childhood, and reconnecting with those old friends brings back those memories. And you’re afraid they will also bully you at this moment in time, or you fear to feel the same as back then once you see old friends in real life.
- Rekindling old friendships is emotionally too much for you now.
- You are just an introverted person, and meeting others is difficult, let alone old friends.
- You have a social anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings.
- You fear being judged or scrutinized by the person you are and your life decisions.
- You fear being rejected.
- You have an unsolved misunderstanding that isn’t talked out yet.
- The last time you spoke wasn’t on good terms.
- You don’t know how to get the conversation started or going.
These are ten reasons that make you feel hesitant to contact old friends, which is unfortunate. But you have a desire that you want to contact old friends because that is the reason why you are reading this article. And something is holding you back. And that is fear. But what is fear, and how does it make you feel?
The Function Of Fear
Let’s dive deeper into fear to give you a broader perspective.
“Emotions are action-requiring neurological programs” ~ Antonio Damasio
This means that emotions are helpful and give you a signal to come into action. The universal function of fear is to avoid or reduce harm. Depending on what we have experienced in the past, fear helps us to protect ourselves from dangerous situations. It gives us the signal to come into action in order to stop the threat. Our nervous system is build this way and automatically chooses between variations of fight, flight and freeze in a last-ditch effort to save our lives. A very functionial emotion to keep us alive.
But emotions are only ever felt in the present moment (much as the body is only ever in the present moment). And besides life-threatening situations. Our thoughts causes emotions. We don’t have to experience something in the present moment or be in danger in the present moment to feel fear or any other emotion. And if we get stuck in the negative thought loop, our emotions get intenser as well.
Stages Of Fear
Deeper Reason Why You’re Scared To Contact Old Friends
Now that we know little bit more about fear, let’s dive deeper into the real reason why you’re afraid to contact old friends. And what you can do about that fear feeling.
You Lack Self-Confidence
Most people who are scared to contact old friends lack self-confidence. When you feel confident about yourself you wouldn’t feel threatened or afraid of rejection, awkward silent moments during conversations, or being judges by others.
Indirectly you have the (unconscious) belief that someone’s else’s opinion is more important than your own. Your self value is attached to what other people think of you. So a rejection, a judgment or weird moment between old friends has an immediate effect on your self-worth. This means that you’re not afraid to contact old friends, you are afraid to lose respect for yourself for whatever happens.
Solution: Boost up your self-esteem. And below are some tips
- Use positive affirmations correctly -> Say “I love you” to yourself in the mirror everyday until you belief it.
- Identify your competencies and develop them -> Try out new things and do things you love.
- Learn to accept compliments -> Fully embrace compliments and say “Thank You”
- Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion -> Learn how to think positively throughout your day.
Read more: 24 Tips To Stay Positive
You Have A Trauma That Triggers You
Another common reason to be afraid to contact old friends is that you have unsolved issues. It can mean that you feel emotionally triggered by an old friend because of a situation in the past. Perhaps they bullied you in the past, you had a fight the last time you spoke or you’ve done wrong to your friend in the past. Which results into feelings of fear or guilt.
Solution: forgive yourself and forgive your old friends. You can contact them to talk it out and say sorry, but you don’t have to do that. The energy of actively forgiving yourself and others (might take a couple of times/ meditations) is enough to resolve issues within yourself but also between the bond between you and you’re old friends. You don’t need to talk it out to be able to feel better about the past and to release trauma.
What To Do With This Fear
Is Your Fear Justified?
This is a tricky question. By asking is this is not me saying you’re overreacting. Not at all. I mean: Are you in a life threatening situation where this fear is functional for you to survive? Big chance that it is not. Big chance that the fear emotion you feel comes from the thoughts in your head.
Our body doesn’t know the difference between real fear or artificial fear produces by our thoughts so it can react as if you’re in a life threatening situation. But you can do something about it to reduce your feelings of fear. You have to listen to what it says instead pushing them away as quickly as possible. That is not how it works. Pushing emotions away is only temporary. It will built up until the point you’re numb and you’re far removed from your real self. And at a certain point it will explode like a volcano and you have no clue what just happened.
Emotion are inevitable because we are human beings. We have emotions. We do not are our emotions. That is big difference and gives you a different perspective. That is why it’s best to led the emotions flow through you instead of blocking it. And learn what this valuable signal is. Breath through it and welcome it, embrace it, feel it and be aware of what lessons are here to be learned.
Whenever we feel an emotion it gives us on opportunity to dive deeper into what triggers us about the situation or thought if we interpret the messages our emotion carry the right way.
“It is not that the experience of emotion alone leads people to wise action… How people make sense of their emotional experience and how they use it is what makes the difference. Awareness of emotion and the ability to enable emotion to inform reasoned action is what is necessary for emotional intelligence” according to Greenburg.
Why You Should Contact Old Friends
In most cases “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” And for that reason I’ve listed a couple of reasons why you should contact old friends. It can be the best decision you’ll ever done, but you just needed some extra support. So here it goes:
- You are not the same person from your childhood, and your friends have changed too. But the memories of that childhood you shared are ingrained in both your memories. Both good and bad. After the initial awkwardness, mostly old friends become very good friends just because they have shared an earlier life together. They bond on a deeper level that no one else i more recent friendships can.
- A bad memory or argument should not hinder you from reliving the also good times with your old friends from time to time. Perhaps your old friend is hesitant to contact you for the same reason. What if nobody makes the first move? Do not regret to reconnect and keep in mind that there could be a rejection and that you’ll be fine.
- Introverts also need friends. Staying socially active is vital for your health. Although initial association can be really hard, if you are really searching for a friend, bonding with an old friend who you knew is much easier and fulfilling than someone you randomly meet.
- Through the ups and downs of life, you can see each other in a new light. You each have grown, learned from past experiences, and look at the past differently. This can work to your advantage when it comes to contacting an old friend. Differences in the past or misunderstandings can be forgiven more easily when both persons have grown on a personal level.
Tips To Not Make It Weird To Contact Old Friend
Many people fear that things get ackward or that it’s weird to contact an old friend. So let’s dive in deeper.
At first, you can ask yourself the question, would it be weird if friend X will get in contact with me right now? If the answer to this question is a NO, then why worry?
If it’s not weird for them to contact you, then it is not weird if you contact them. You’ve been friends in the past, you’ll share the same memories, had the time of your life at some stage in your life, so most old friends will feel honored to hear from you.
Below are some extra helpful tips
- Tip 1: There is no harm in trying. Life is too short to live with regret. So why not go out of your comfort zone and reach out. Perhaps after reconnecting you ask yourself, why didn’t I do this earlier? Why was I filled with anxiety to get in contact? Why did I think it was weird reaching out? In many cases, the other person is also afraid to reach out and will be happy with you making the first move. So just go for it. You’ll have nothing to lose.
- Tip 2: Don’t have any expectations. Having expectations when reconnecting with an old friend can lead to disappointment on your end. And also your old friend can feel this expectation of yours too and feel uncomfortable and maybe shut things down early. Therefore try to keep your expectations low.
- Tip 3: Be honest. Being honest goes a long way. If you show your motivation behind why you want to contact your old friend and be honest in the initial contact you’ll not make things weird. Your honesty will be appreciated and in most cases reciprocated. You’ll create a safe space for the other person to be honest too.
- Tip 4: Be open for rejection. You might want to contact your old friend, but that doesn’t mean that person wants to get in contact with you. Many people like to keep things from the past in the past. Therefore if you stay open to the idea of being rejected, you wouldn’t feel weird about reaching out and the possibility of being rejected. And if you do get rejected, don’t take it personally. Just accept it and move on. Respect each other’s boundaries. Perhaps the other person is going through a tough time and needs their intention on their own life right now. And might come back to your friend request years later. Yes, this can happen. Or the distance in miles (different cities) make it impossible to meet up and is also a reason for people to be less invested in rekindling a friendship.
- Tip 5: Be Ready To Be Vulnerable. When you don’t want to make it weird and want to have the highest chances of success, you need to be ready to show your vulnerability. Being vulnerable helps you to foster better connections and relationships with others. It opens the line of communication, instead of shutting it down. Also, when you show your vulnerable side, the other person is likely to show theirs as well. You’ll have a heart to heart that can heal things from the past and can form a strong foundation for a possible friendship in the future.
How To Avoid Akward Moments
1) The First Move: Keep It Light & Simple
When you’re ready to get in contact with an old friend you can have different approaches. For some, a direct approach (like you both are used to) can be a perfect way, but in most cases, a light and simple approach is the right way to go. This way you can test the waters as well. But in all cases show that you’re happy to hear from them. Show some love and it will go fine.
You can consider sending an email, text, or direct messages on social media. And a great opening line can be
“I saw or read something the other day that made me think of you and I was wondering how you are doing…”
And then ask a couple of questions but also tell something about yourself. You sharing things about your life makes it easier for other people to share something about their life too.
The keys to success are honesty, vulnerability, and positivity.
And once you’ve established a little conversation you can show your interest and ask if they want to meet up for coffee, lunch, dinner to catch up.
2) Have Great Conversation Starters Ready
You might talk for hours on end and laugh at the same jokes in the past. In the time between then and now a lot of things might have changed. People’s perspectives on life have changed (or not at all) and you don’t know where their heads are at.
And when you’ve come to the point that you’re going to meet each other for coffee, lunch, or dinner you may need some extra help to get the conversation going again. So that is why I’ve listed some good questions and great conversation starters. But the more natural, the better so don’t make it into an interview. Ask open questions, thoughtfully listen, ask more related open questions or share something yourself so they can hop on that topic as well.
- How are you?
- What have you been doing all these years?
- What are the highlights of life since the last time we met/ spoke?
- What is the most fun memory you have about school/ college/ work?
- Do you remember… (fun anecdote)
- What did you like most about school, marriage, having (grand)kids?
- What is your plan for the next few years?
- Do you have read some great book/ films/ series/ documentaries lately?
- What are you doing tomorrow? (leads to a more private place, like their plans and hopes)
- What are your plans this week? (gives you an insight on their current life and see if you have things in common)
- Have you seen or spoken to (names of mutual old friend)? (try not to get into gossip, but just stay interested in a nonjudgmental way)
3) Start With An Apology (if needed)
If you’ve hurt an old friend, then it is wise to start with an apology. Even if it is through text or social media at first. Showing you’re wrong helps you to get the communication line going. Later down the road, you can always apologize in person if it gets to that point.
4) Respect Each Other
As I mentioned before you have to respect each other. And that means if they don’t want to meet up, accept this fact and wish each other well. But if you do catch up, know that your old friends might have changed their views on politics, past memories, people, opinions, etc.
Therefore also respect each other’s new ways of thinking, opinions, and perspectives. You want to avoid getting into controversial topics the first time you meet each other. Although some friendships are used to that and can handle it better. Or sometimes it requires to get into a hard conversation first before you can move on. Sometimes you need to hash things out of the past before you can build on the future. But in all cases try to stay respectful.
Now it is up to you to figure out what you want to do with it all this information.
Perhaps this article gives you so much clarity and strength to immediately contact old friends right away. Or you need some time to solve some issues within yourself before you are able to contact old friends with more confidence in the future. Or even decide it is not worth it and you moved on and are prioritizing other relationships. All is good.