By Alina Dizik
When we get super-busy, some friendships fall by the wayside. But that doesn't mean you can't revive the relationship. "Even if a lot of time has elapsed, it's worth saving those nurturing friends who know you deep down and whom you can confide in and call in a crisis," says Vicki Field, a midlife coach in Chapel Hill, NC. Wanting to rekindle a friendship isn't enough, though. You have to find a way to reconnect, which can be difficult after months or years of sporadic-or zero-contact. Here are the best first moves to make to get your friend back in your life. Photo by iStock.
1. Write Her a Facebook Message
Getting in touch electronically is one of the easiest ways to catch up, says Field. But what do you say in that first note? Start with some information about how busy you've been and then add in details about what you've been doing. Sharing updates about your life can encourage your friend to reply with the same openness. Once you've reconnected, make plans to see each other in person. "You can't substitute Facebook or other forms of social media for real relationships," says Field.
2. Reconnect Over a Favorite Pastime
An activity that you used to do together can rev up a stalled friendship, says Celestine Chua, founder of the Personal Excellence blog. "Since that drew you together in the past, it should reignite positive memories and bring you closer again," she explains. Start by emailing your friend with a list of shared favorite activities and suggest doing one of those. Anything from going shopping to visiting that coffee shop you both love can rebuild your bond.
3. Send a Handwritten Card
A note in the mail can be a welcome surprise for a friend you haven't spoken to in a while. And there's no need to wait until a holiday for an excuse to send it; a "just because" card can restart your relationship anytime, says Shari Goldsmith, a women's life coach and mental health therapist in Cincinnati. In your note, "don't come on too strong," she cautions. "Women are busy and don't want to feel that the friendship comes with too many strings attached." So avoid mentioning the past or specific dates when you're available to meet up. Instead, leave the message open-ended, explaining that you're available for lunch or drinks in the next couple of weeks, she says. And remind her of the best way to contact you.
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4. Set a Phone Date
Hearing a friend's voice can be a great way to reconnect. But with hectic schedules, you may wind up playing phone tag for a while before you catch each other. That's why it's best to schedule a chat. Leave a voicemail with times you're available, suggests Shasta Nelson, founder of GirlFriendCircles.com, a women's friendship matching site. "It may feel weird to call out of the blue, but people understand," she says. Once you've got your friend on the phone, be sure to set up time for another phone date or an in-person meeting, she adds.
5. Do Something Unexpected and Kind
Whether it's sending a handmade present or her favorite type of cookies, preparing a small surprise can go a long way in rekindling a friendship, especially with someone you once considered a good pal. "This will open your friend's heart to you, which will further the friendship," says Chua. Just don't go overboard with a nice gesture; mailing something affordable rather than showing up at your buddy's doorstep is your best bet.
6. Throw a Dinner Party
Chances are there's more than one friend you've been meaning to catch up with, so inviting over a group can restart multiple friendships at once, says Nelson. Let your buddies know how much they mean to you with "a girlfriend gratitude dinner," she suggests. Consider inviting women who all know each other, such as a few former coworkers, to simplify planning and keep the dinner conversation flowing.
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7. Invite Her Along to an Event
Have an extra ticket to a concert, party or book reading? Bringing your friend to a gathering can be more casual-and less intimidating-than meeting one on one. "This takes the pressure off and lets both of you relax in a group environment," explains Chua. Rather than jumping into a serious discussion of why you drifted apart, you'll be socializing with other people or enjoying some entertainment, which can make your reunion less awkward.
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8. Try Out a New Experience
Creating fun memories together is a sure way to rekindle a friendship, says Chua. Email your friend about meeting up and suggest a list of activities you've been meaning to try for your get-together. Some ideas: playing paintball, going rock climbing, taking dance lessons and going trekking, says Chua. "This is a great way to learn new things about your friend and find fresh commonalities to bond over."
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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