Did you move away from a childhood bestie? Lose track of a favorite coworker? Or
forget to text back your college roommate, and now it’s been... 10 years? Whatever the case, there may come a time when you want to get back in touch with someone from your past and catch up. Whether the goal is exchanging a few quick stories or reviving the lapsed friendship, the first step is sending an opening text.
But what on earth do you say to someone after a long period of not talking to them? According to licensed clinical psychologist
Dr. Holly Schiff, it’s not uncommon to feel awkward or at a loss for words when sending a message to a friend after a long time. “We naturally drift away from others over time,” Schiff says, so you might worry that they’ve changed, that they won’t want to talk, or that they’re mad at you for ghosting them.
It’s nerve-wracking, but therapist
Jennifer Vandegriff, LCSW, says you shouldn’t let awkwardness, pride, nerves, or even guilt stop you from texting an old friend and seeing what’s up. Chances are they’ll be happy to hear from you, or at the very least will be flattered that you reached out. How To Decide Whether To Text Someone
When you’re deciding whether to message a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, friendship expert and psychologist
Dr. Marisa Franco, Ph.D., tells Bustle it’s important to look back and examine the dynamic of the friendship. “Most friendships actually end because they fizzle out and people forget to contact each other,” she says. In this case, she says to go for it and reach out.
“But if it was more sticky endings, like you got into conflict, you know something was wrong, [or] maybe there was a disrespect,
violation of boundaries, [or] some sort of betrayal — then I would say there definitely needs to be more intentionality about thinking through why you want to reach out.” She suggests a few things to reflect on to help you make your decision. Ask yourself how things are going to be different this time, and think about what has changed that would make the friendship work this go-around. Another question Franco recommends asking yourself: Was this a healthy friendship? “Often we enjoy people’s company, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good friend,” she offers.
Another thing to ponder is
why you want to rekindle things. Oftentimes, it’s due to loneliness and feelings of emptiness and lack, Franco explains, “and when we’re feeling lonely, we can be driven to do things that aren’t in our best interest in the long term.” Ultimately, you’ll want to examine whether resurrecting your friendship is going to add to your life or if it’s simply going to be compensating for something else that’s missing. How To Approach The Message
The kind of message you craft will depend on the nature of your friendship and how it ended. “If it’s just a fizzle out, I think you can anchor it in, ‘I was just thinking about this memory that we shared and wondering how you’re doing,’” offers Franco. “Or you can say, ‘Hey, it’s been a while, I’ve missed you, just
wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.’”
Your mindset is what’s important, Franco tells Bustle. “I think often people don’t reach out because they think this other person has moved on, [they think] ‘they don’t care about me,’” she says. Instead, she’s a proponent for optimism — assume they will be ecstatic to hear from you. “That’s the sort of mindset that’s really going to help you move forward and reach out to this person,” she says.
If you didn’t end on such great terms, you’ll want to address the issue head-on. “You can do that in a more subtle way, just acknowledging, ‘Hey, I know that things were really difficult for us for a while, but I totally would be interested in rekindling things if you might be open to it,’” Franco advises. Otherwise, if you just gloss over it and text them as if everything is fine, it can seem like you’re ignoring or denying something.
If you miss someone who used to be in your life, scan through these 30 sample texts to send to old friends, choose the one that feels right, and fire that thing off.
"I know it's been a while, but I just wanted to see how you're doing."
A simple, straightforward text is always good choice. Because hey, “if you are missing someone and want to reconnect, you can just be honest and say it,” psychologist
Dr. Rebecca Leslie tells Bustle. No need for formal greetings, fancy apologies, or verbose explanations. “Hey, it’s XYZ. How’ve you been?”
If it’s truly been a minute, go ahead and toss your name into the text just in case they no longer have your info in their phone, says success coach
Lisha Davidovits, ACC, CPCC, CPQC. This is a good choice for long lost coworkers, old high school friends, or even an ex. "I heard you graduated. Congrats! How have you been?"
Sometimes a significant life achievement makes it easier to reach out, so jump at the chance if they’ve had a recent success like a graduation or promotion. In these scenarios, there’s also a natural compliment built right in,
Nicole Arzt, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, which will be super nice to hear. "Miss your face!"
Depending on the situation, you might want to opt for a text that's light and playful. This one is casual and fun, while also letting the other person know you've been thinking about them and miss their company, Vandegriff says.
"Hey! Just wondering what your life is like these days. I’d love to catch up.” FreshSplash/E+/Getty Images
Quick disclaimer: When reaching out to folks from the past, keep your expectations neutral. You don't know how their life has changed or if they'll even want to talk, especially if you had an argument and ended things on a weird note.
But don't let that stop you from trying. If you'd like to rekindle a friendship, counselor
Candice Conroy, MA, LMHC, suggests being clear about your desire to catch up. Hopefully it'll open the door to more texts, a phone call, or maybe even a coffee date. "How has it been three months already!? Love you miss you!”
For closer friends, it might feel right to dive directly back in with a random text and pick back up where you left off. "But even then, it can be helpful to acknowledge that you’re reaching out somewhat out of the blue," Conroy says.
"Things are looking stressful back at home. Just wanted to make sure you're OK."
Life is difficult for everyone right now, with impossibly stressful events occurring all around the globe. If one of them makes you think of or worry about someone you haven’t talked to in a while, Conroy says it’s only natural to reach out with a text like this one to make sure they're OK.
"I just saw your story. Those cupcakes looked amazing! How's everything going?"
Another way to reconnect is by responding to someone's Instagram stories, Conroy says. If one of their recent posts happens to catch your eye, use it as your "in" to get a convo going.
"I totally ghosted you and I’m sorry for that... "
To make amends after
ghosting someone, whether it was a friend or potential partner, start by sending an apology text. Clinical psychologist Dr. Kimberly M. Martin suggests this wording, which acknowledges the impact your disappearance might’ve had on the other person. Send it and see if they’re down to clear the air. "I just saw Twisted Lime Doritos at the store and it made me think of you!"
To make your text feel more personal — and purposeful — look for a specific reason to reach out, says Sulonda Smith, LMFT, CLC, a licensed marriage family therapist and certified life coach. The receiver will enjoy the fact you remembered something specific about them (like their undying love for lime Doritos).
"An alien abducted me but now I'm back. How are you?"
Smith also recommends breaking the ice with a joke. The image of aliens lifting you off the planet — as an explanation for why you haven't texted in a year — is A+ and will (hopefully) encourage them to text back.
*send a photo* "This made me think of you!"
"Photos are a harmless and easy way to try and revive an old connection,” Arzt says, so if you happen upon something that reminds you of the person you’re reaching out to — like a cute dog, favorite restaurant, etc. — don't hesitate to snap a pic and send it their way.
"lol I just heard 'Old Town Road' and thought of you <3"
The same is true for songs, Arzt says, since so many people connect through music. If you hear a song that reminds you of a road trip or nights spent working the closing shift, send a text and see how they react.
Reminding them of something specific will help jog their memory, which Davidovits says is important if it’s been ages since you last spoke. It’ll also increase the chance that they respond.
"Was feeling sad that we haven't connected in a while. Could we talk or catch up soon?"
In all situations, but especially ones that might feel awkward, remember to keep the focus on yourself and how
you've been feeling, Keith J. Myers, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, ACS, a licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle.
Texting something like "Why haven't you reached out to me?" points fingers and puts the other person on the defensive. Instead, be vulnerable and show your feelings. Myers says it will have a disarming effect, which will help set the other person at ease.
"Wow, I just had a flashback. Remember when we pulled that all-nighter in college?" franckreporter/E+/Getty Images
Whether it was an all-nighter in college, a fun party, or a concert you went to in 2017, go ahead and reminisce via text in vivid, hilarious detail. "Some humor or a reminder of shared interests or memories foster connection," therapist
Lisa Andresen, LCSW, tells Bustle. "This also makes for an easy conversation starter before you start catching up." "Wishing you a happy holiday! I'd love to talk more in the new year!"
When in doubt, wait for the holidays. "This is an opportunity of convenience to reach out and to acknowledge the work that needs to be done moving forward to maintain contact and strengthen the relationship,"
Dr. Markesha Miller, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. (Just make sure you actually follow through, or else you'll be back at square one all over again.) "Wanted to say that you're awesome and I don't want to lose touch."
Another tip? Keep your first text short and honest, in order to make a genuine bid for connection. As
Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says, “Let them know they are important to you and you would like to reconnect." "I really need your help with something, if that's OK!"
Sometimes folks spring to mind during very specific times, like when your guitar string breaks and you immediately think of that one friend who happens to be the best at restringing guitars. Smith says moments like these are the perfect excuse to reach out, ask for help, and catch up.
"Ugh, I'm so bad at responding"
Sometimes brutal honesty is the best policy. “Taking accountability for your behavior in losing touch and not prioritizing the friendship goes a long way towards reestablishing trust and connection," Vandegriff says. Whether you're "bad" at texting, have a lot going on, or simply shifted priorities, let the other person know your silence has had nothing to do with them.
"Hey! Did you ever read that book we talked about?" jeffbergen/E+/Getty Images
If you recommended a movie, book, or album to them, go ahead and follow up to see if they liked it. It could spark a fun conversation!
"Happy birthday! Let's not let another year go by without talking."
Birthdays offer a great reason to reach out. You can always wish them a good one and move on, but if you want to fully rekindle your connection, try to keep chatting afterward and see where things go.
“Want to meet up for my birthday this weekend? I’m meeting a few friends for dinner and would love to have you there!”
Holidays and birthdays are an ideal time to reconnect, and that includes your own. Schiff recommends reaching out to see if they’d be into the idea of meeting up for a small gathering. Knowing other people will be there might take some of the pressure off.
“Hey, how do you feel about catching up?”
If you still aren’t sure what to say, word your text like this. “It’ll acknowledge the long pause in communication while expressing interest and warmth in the other person,”
Dorlee Michaeli, MBA, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. “It also takes into account that your friend may not be ready to start texting just because you happened to reach out at this moment in time.” “Can you believe it’s been 10 years since we graduated?”
According to certified speaking professional
Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C, CSP, anniversaries always make it easier to reach out, so feel free to wait for one to roll around so you have an “excuse” to send a text. To do one better, send along a picture of the two of you together, like that cute one you have from graduation. “Wow, I can’t believe I never answered this!” The Good Brigade/DigitalVision/Getty Images
Chelsea Austin recommends sending this text if you forgot to reply. If they write back, awesome! If not, that’s OK, too. “A text is a great way to reach out because it’s like dipping your toe in the pool,” she says. “If they don’t answer it feels less personal, and if they do you can gauge where to go from there.” “I’ve been such a homebody, sorry for not keeping in touch.”
Similarly, “this type of text is helpful because it’s non-blaming and oriented toward personal responsibility,”
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of Date Smart, tells Bustle. “It’s not oriented towards making excuses,” but instead offers a quick apology without making it a big deal. The last thing you want to do, Manly says, is send a negative, guilt-ridden text. “These last few months threw me into a tailspin but I’m finally recalibrating. Are you around to get lunch this weekend?”
Here’s another option that takes ownership while also offering a potential catch-up date. As Manly says, “It may appeal to those who are more easy-going and relaxed about timeframes.” You know, like those friends you only see twice a year but somehow pick up right where you left off.
“Wow, things are overwhelming right now, how’s your stress level these days?”
It’s always nice to check in with people, even if you don’t talk every day. Consider sending this text as a way to make sure they’re hanging in there. “It shows you were thinking of them and care about their well-being,” Schiff says.
*send a TikTok* “Saw this and had to send it to you.”
You know when you see a TikTok that so perfectly expresses an inside joke or someone’s sense of humor? Snag the opportunity and send it. “This is a great ice breaker and no-pressure way to reconnect and laugh with someone,” therapist
Tiffany Roe, MA, CMHC tells Bustle. “My horoscope said I should text you today.”
“I love this one because it can be completely serious or cute and tongue-in-cheek, depending on where you fall on the horoscope-believability scale,” says life coach
Jenna Watson. Either way, it’s an intriguing text to send when you want to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Find the one that feels right to you, and hit send! Experts: Jennifer Vandegriff, LCSW , therapist Dr. Marisa Franco, Ph.D. , psychologist and friendship expert Lisha Davidovits, ACC, CPCC, CPQC , success coach Dr. Rebecca Leslie , licensed psychologist Nicole Arzt, LMFT , licensed marriage and family therapist Jennifer Vandegriff, LCSW , therapist Candice Conroy, MA, LMHC , licensed mental health counselor Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C, CSP, certified speaking professional Dr. Kimberly M. Martin , clinical psychologist Sulonda Smith, LMFT, CLC , licensed marriage family therapist and certified life coach Keith J. Myers, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS , licensed professional counselor Dr. Markesha Miller , licensed psychotherapist Lisa Andresen, ASW , therapist Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR , licensed marriage and family therapist Dorlee Michaeli, MBA, LCSW , licensed clinical social worker Dr. Carla Marie Manly , clinical psychologist Chelsea Austin , life coach Tiffany Roe, MA, CMHC , therapist Jenna Watson , life coach
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This article was originally published on
Dec. 10, 2020