Old friends matter. Having them in our lives is proof that special bonds exist outside of the family.
You don’t need to be related by blood to be considered family. And that makes old friends extra special.
They’re the family you choose.
But how do you make sure that these relationships remain strong? In this busy and hectic life, it’s so easy to lose great friends, no matter the history you share.
The good news is it’s not complicated to rekindle old friendships. Here are some simple ways to make sure your old friends don’t ever feel left out:
1. Proactively communicate
This is perhaps the most common reason why friends drift apart from each other. It starts with little things—forgetting to reply to a message, missing calls, until you find yourselves not talking for weeks, months, then years.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Firestone, comfort is the enemy.
She explains: “The familiarity and comfort we feel with another person can sometimes leave us crossing lines or forgetting to show gratitude.”
She adds: “Slipping into a routine can leave us more likely to take friends for granted.”
Don’t take your friends for granted. It doesn’t have to be long conversations or weekends away—they just need a few minutes of your time to know you think of them.
What are you waiting for? Call up your old friend right now!
2. Remember the little things
I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s the little things that matter.
Honestly, when I think of my best friends, I don’t think first about the grand travels we made or the fancy restaurants where we ate together.
Instead, I remember the long talks during sleepovers, the road trips going nowhere, the funny, stupid gifts they gave me for my birthday.
When I talk with my old friends, these are the stories I bring up. And remembering these little things together helps us keep our bond strong.
You see, people appreciate it best when you remember the little details about them. It shows that you take notice, it shows that you care not just when it’s great, but when it’s real and personal.
3. Be honest
Yes, honesty is a crucial foundation for a solid friendship. In fact, it is when you are dishonest that the toxicity takes place.
Dr. Firestone says: “Keeping an honest dialogue helps prevent you from building up cynicism and boiling over in a moment when you feel triggered.”
Longevity in friendships happens because two people are always honest with each other. A friend who always talks to you straight allows you to live life in authentic honesty, too.
If there’s something that’s rubbing you the wrong way about your old friend, you owe it to them to let them know in a truthful, but respectful way. Clear the air.
4. Handle conflicts in a healthy way
This certainly is something I had to learn as I grew older. It comes with the maturity to realize that you can’t control everything, and you have to accept people as they are—not who you want them to be.
Now, I am surrounded by the most supportive and empowering friends anyone could ever wish for.
Conflicts still come up. No matter how much your friends have in common with you, they are still different people. And anyway, you should want friends who are the complete opposite of you.
They enrich your experience and perspective in life.
But it’s important to handle these conflicts with respect. It’s not about winning an argument or scoring imaginary points.
Instead, it’s about finding common ground and a solution to the issue at hand.
Remember, the two of you are on the same team.
5. Always choose compassion
According to Dr. Firestone: “A good rule of thumb when it comes to our relationships is to care more about doing what’s right than being right.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
It’s easy to judge our friends for their actions and decisions. But judgment is not what they need. If we truly love our friends, we should give them compassion.
If you are lucky enough, they will reciprocate it a hundred times more.
This is a classic example of you sow what you reap. Plant compassion and receive compassion.
Cutting loose toxic old friends
So far, I’ve only talked about the incredible benefits of having life-long friends.
But I think it’s also important to talk about the other side of it:
Here’s an important thing realization I’ve come to:
You shouldn’t keep friends just for the sake of keeping them.
Sometimes, we maintain relationships with people for the sole reason that we’ve known them for a long time—even when they’re no longer good for us.
We make excuses for our long history with them. And we use that excuse to justify their toxic behaviors.
But here’s the deal:
Don’t settle for friendships that aren’t bringing any positive value in your life.
Even when you’ve known them your whole life.
It’s okay to let go of an old friend when they’ve become a constant source of sadness, anxiety, worry, or depression.
If they’re always dragging you down, judging you, and making you feel bad about yourself, then they are not worth keeping.
You must love yourself first. This involves choosing your well-being and peace of mind over someone who cares very little for them.
When to know if it’s time to cut loose an old friend?
So how do you know whether it’s time to cut loose an old friend?
Here are a few key signs that your old friendship has run its course.
You have nothing in common
Friends don’t have to be completely the same. In fact, it’s healthy that you all have differences.
But if you only hang out because you feel obligated to hang out, that’s a sign that things aren’t right.
If you hang out, and you don’t have anything to talk about because you have zero in common, that means that your lives have moved in opposite directions.
This doesn’t mean the friendship is doomed, but don’t be surprised if one of you moves to cut things off.
Your friend is a constant source of negativity
Your friend judges you, criticizes your life decisions, and insults you.
If your old friend does this, they’re not your friend. Instead, they’re a bully.
Don’t settle for a bully, no matter how painful the break up is.
Your friend doesn’t make time for you
I get it. Life gets busy when we get older.
However, if your old friends can’t bother to make time for you, but expect you to jump through hoops when they need you, you need to reexamine the relationship.
Friendships need to be equal. If you’re being taken advantage of, it might be time to let this one go.
Your old friend doesn’t get you
This one hurts. You all used to finish each other’s sentences. In fact, for a while it felt that you all were “twin flames.” You were mirror souls.
Now, it’s like you hardly know the person. It even feels like they are your false twin flame.
The good news is you have options. You don’t have to cut the friendship off. Instead, you can do the hard work to get to know the new person that your friend is now.
If your friend pushes hard to work to know the new you, you’ll know they’re worth keeping!
Our old friends are the glue to our past. They’re beautiful relationships that have to be nurtured throughout our lives.
When these relationships are in sync, we can experience profound benefits to our mental, emotional, and physical health.
But it’s important not to hold onto a relationship for the sake of its history. Make sure that your old friendships are working for you. If things have fallen by the wayside, make time to rekindle what you’ve lost.