After graduation, close friends can scatter and lose touch.

How to Catch Up With Old Friends

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Many people claim that they don’t have enough time to stay caught up with friends, according to Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.” If you have lost track of old friends, consider that you don’t have to catch up with everyone today or this week. If your life is busy with family, career and current friends, your old friends are probably in the same boat.

Social Media

Search for your old friends on social-media sites and friend them, if you haven’t already, suggest Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich, authors of “Stuff Hipsters Hate,” in an interview for CNN. Once they accept your friend request, you can check out what they’ve been doing and get their latest status posts. If they don’t accept your friend request, don’t panic -- maybe they’re just busy or don’t recognize your new name and how your appearance has changed. Give it some time and perhaps send them a message.


Although many people seem to appreciate the speed of instant messaging and texting, you have a bit more freedom with length in an email. Bartz and Ehrlich suggest that you send an email if you are already connected through social media and let your old friends have a personal update. Ask some questions to let your friend know you want to connect and save the detailed requests for a time when you can both connect through a long phone call or internet video call. If you want to meet in person, Vanderkam suggests that you choose an activity you would do anyway, like lunch, if you feel pressed for time and want to catch up with your friend.

Slow Response

If you reach out to an old friend and you don’t get a quick response, don’t assume that your friend doesn’t want to be friends any more, advises psychologist Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., author of “Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend” in a “Psychology Today” article. There could be many demands on your friend’s time and staying in touch could be low on her priority list. Cut your friend some slack and realize that she might get back to you when her life is less complex or when friendships pop back up near the top of her priority list. Levine suggests that you send periodic short emails to stay in touch without any expectation that you will get a response back. If you get a response, it will be a pleasant and welcome response.

Elements of Connection

When you do connect with old friends, remember the elements necessary to maintain the bond, suggests psychologist Debra Oswald, Ph.D., who has studied high-school friendships and discusses them in an interview published in the November 2006 edition of “Psychology Today.” She says those elements include sharing personal information, listening and supporting your friend, interacting in any way possible and keeping your communication positive. You might not see each other frequently or even email often, but you and your friend will know how to reach out when the need and the time is right.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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