Rekindling an old friendship can be an exciting, nostalgic, harrowing, heartwarming experience – or all at the same time. If you’ve decided that you’re going to take the plunge and check in with an old friend, the first thing you should do is know where to look for them. Once you find him, get in touch in a warm but informal way to avoid embarrassing moments.
Table of Contents
- 1 Check in with old friends
- 1.1 Look for old friends on social media.
- 1.2 Enter his name into a search engine.
- 1.3 Contact mutual acquaintances.
- 1.4 Get in touch with your school or alumni organization.
- 1.5 Use a public database.
- 1.6 Go to reunion events.
- 1.7 Pay for a service provider that finds people.
- 1.8 Keep in mind that women often have different names after marriage.
- 2 Rekindle the old friendship
- 3 Avoid weird moments
- 3.1 Keep the conversation well-balanced.
- 3.2 Bring up previous conflicts directly but politely.
- 3.3 Don’t have too high expectations.
- 3.4 Don’t think you still know your friend.
- 3.5 When in doubt, just ask questions.
- 3.6 If you’re old enough, you might be able to relieve some of the initial tension with a drink.
- 4 Conclusion
Check in with old friends
Today it’s the easiest and most direct way to find someone. Pretty much all social media allows you to search for a name. If you find your friend through this and they have a public profile, it’s pretty easy to get in touch with them – just send them a message. Popular networks are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ or Instagram. Almost everyone is active on one or more social networks, so chances are you’ll find that long-lost friend on at least one of them. If you can’t find your friend by their name, try your old school or job and go through the list of people who have “liked” that institution or commented on one of their posts. You may be able to find your friend through it.
Enter his name into a search engine.
If you can’t find your old friend on social media, the next step is to try a regular search engine. Your friend’s name may appear on another website. It’s best to put the name in quotation marks when you type it in: “Peter Müller”. Then the search engine only searches for the combination of first and last name and does not display any results where both appear separately on a page. You can also try adding names of other people or organizations your friend is associated with to narrow your search. Something like this: “Petra Müller” ABC Gymnasium Berlin.
Contact mutual acquaintances.
If you can’t find your friend online, maybe someone else has their number. Call someone who knows both of you, such as a mutual friend, former boss or teacher, colleague, or if you’re very tactful, an ex-partner. While they may not be able to put you in touch directly, they may have more up-to-date information on the situation of the person they are looking for.
Get in touch with your school or alumni organization.
Most schools and colleges track the careers of their graduates – sometimes, there is even an up-to-date address register for fundraisers and information about upcoming events. Contact your friend’s old school or college and see if they have any information about them. However, for privacy reasons, it’s possible that the organization has the data but won’t release it.
Use a public database.
Believe it or not, a lot of information about people is available online for free. For example, just look in the online version of the telephone book or in the residents’ registration office register. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, contact the city office where your friend knew the residence with a search query. However, this method may take a little longer. Another quick and easy search option is the Pipl.com database. This page allows you to type in your friend’s name, last known address, and results in seconds. Try different variations of the name. Your friend Alex is probably listed under his full name Alexander. You should also consider if there is a common abbreviation for his name in his culture, such as Sasha for Alexander.
Go to reunion events.
Most schools have class reunions from time to time, at least every five years or so, usually more frequently. If you and your friend went to school together, go to the next class reunion. Even if your friend isn’t there, you can probably find someone who can point you in the right direction. Also, go to sporting events or the open house at your old school. Alumni often meet on these occasions as well. Grab some friends and go!
Pay for a service provider that finds people.
You may have to spend some money to find your old friend if nothing else works. Some ISPs will do the searching for you, or you could hire a private investigator as a last option. However, these providers always charge a fee, which can be quite steep depending on the service. That’s why you should always exhaust all free options before you spend your hard-earned money on the search.
Keep in mind that women often have different names after marriage.
As you search, remember that many women take their husband’s surname when they marry. More and more women are refusing this archaic tradition, but it’s still a tradition. While scientific data on the subject vary, most women still take their husbands’ names. One study found that just over 60 percent of women who marry in their 20s take their man’s surname, and the percentage increases as women get older.
Rekindle the old friendship
Send a warm and welcoming message first.
If you have found your friend again, dare and get in touch with him! Call, text, email, or write a letter—it’s entirely up to you. Don’t put it off for too long or you risk missing the opportunity if your friend moves or the situation changes. Once you find that person on social media, send them a quick private message: “Hi there! It’s been a long time, right? I hope you remember me back when I was in stats at uni? I’m back in town and would love to see you again. Let me know if you’d like a coffee! See you!” You can also write a personal message if you have found one in real life. Here’s a short sample letter to use as inspiration for your first contact via post or email – note the instructions in parentheses: “Dear (name), It’s been ages since we last saw each other. How are you? I hope everything is going well. We last met at our graduation party, right? Remember how hot it was and how we sweated in our fancy clothes? Things got so hectic after that I never really got to say goodbye or get in touch, and I missed you so much. I want to make up for this. I’m back in town and I’d like to see you. Feel free to call me if you want to go for a coffee. I would be very happy.”
Plan a casual meeting.
If you haven’t seen your friend for a long time, there’s always a risk that you just won’t click like you used to. You may have developed in different directions and your worldview has changed, so it is no longer easy to tie in with the old chemistry. That would be a shame, but it’s possible, so your first encounter should be as casual as possible. Have a coffee or a beer or go out to eat – if you still get along well, you can do something together afterward. If your meeting is feeling tense, you can leave after an hour or so without embarrassment. Have a plan B in case things go extremely well. For example, find the phone number of the bowling center you used to meet at. If you’re having fun together, you can give them a quick call and reserve a lane so you can continue your evening there! You should not invite other people to this first meeting. You must have the opportunity to re-sniff each other without spectators.
Invite your friend to upcoming events.
If your first meeting went well, you could gradually invite your friend back into your life. You can easily do this by taking it to events you would be attending anyway. You will have fun there, no matter who you are with. Plus, you’re in familiar territory, so you should find it easy to have a relaxed chat with your old friend.
Introduce your old friend to your new friends.
If you invite your old friend over to activities together, they will inevitably meet your new friends at some point. Don’t be afraid of it; let it happen naturally. Let everyone involved know they don’t have to compete with each other for your favors by including them in conversations as equals. In such situations, for example, it is appropriate to give both groups advance notice of each other’s interests before they meet. That way, they’ll have something to talk about right away: “I heard you do pottery?” Keep in mind, though, that some of your new friends may not take to your old friend right away. They have no shared memories and, therefore, no personal connection to each other. That’s okay – your friends don’t all have to be friends. If your friend is married or has children, you can also invite their family. For example, arrange an elegant dinner or a family outing.
Enjoy the nostalgia, but also create new memories.
In the words of the wise James Gandolfini, “‘Do you remember is the lowest form of conversation.” It’s great when you can reminisce with your old friend. But after a while, you should also plan things to look forward to. Your relationship with your boyfriend should not be in the past but should have a future. Otherwise, you will quickly become bored or frustrated that you have nothing more to say to each other.
Avoid weird moments
Keep the conversation well-balanced.
Maybe you’re wildly curious and can’t wait to learn everything that’s happened to your friend since you last met, but don’t ask too many questions. At the same time, you shouldn’t bombard them with information about yourself or brag about your current life. Keep the conversation balanced by allowing you to pitch and catch up on shared information. Don’t feel obligated to share things that are too personal. Ask questions and tell us about yourself.
Bring up previous conflicts directly but politely.
If you didn’t part on good terms at the time, you should probably raise the issue fairly soon, preferably right at the first contact. It wouldn’t be good if you pretended painful memories didn’t exist. This could seem like you don’t care about your boyfriend’s feelings or, even worse, that you’re deliberately ignoring them. Swallow your pride and bring up the subject as soon as possible. If you’ve concluded that you are partially or solely responsible for your argument at the time, apologize sincerely. If you don’t think it was your fault, just express your desire to make up: “Hey, I know we had a pretty bad fight last time we saw each other. I was hoping we could put that behind us and start over?”
Don’t have too high expectations.
You’re unlikely to regain the same level of intimacy you once had instantly. Or maybe your friend has very different ideas about your reunion than you do — maybe they just want to see you and have lunch with you while you wish to rekindle your friendship. It’s best not to get too excited before you’ve even talked. Be optimistic but calm about it so that you don’t end up hurt and disappointed when things don’t go as you would.
Don’t think you still know your friend.
To avoid making a faux pas, it’s best not to bring up controversial topics unless you’re 100% sure how your friend feels about it. Things may have changed even if you used to talk about it all the time. You never know how experiences have changed a person’s opinions to the point where they may not match what you think you know about your friend. Some of the topics you might be better off avoiding until you’re on a more familiar level.
When in doubt, just ask questions.
Not sure what to say to your old friend? Just ask him how he’s been since you last saw each other. You can then follow up on his answers with further questions. People generally like to talk about themselves – psychological studies have shown that most people talk more about themselves than others in conversations. Here are a few questions: What do you work at the moment or where do you go to school? Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend right now? How about the family? Can you help with something that’s been on my mind lately? Have you read any good books lately?
If you’re old enough, you might be able to relieve some of the initial tension with a drink.
A reasonable amount of alcohol brightens up almost any social situation. When you’re both grown up, have a drink, and you’ll be less nervous. With a bit of luck, this will put you in a position to have a great time together and almost seamlessly reconnect with old times! But please always remember not to exceed a responsible level and under no circumstances drive a car when you have been drinking!
Don’t be too clingy. Be nice and friendly! Introduce your old friend to your new friends. Be careful not to lose sight of your current friends. If you only hang out with your old best friend, your new friends may become jealous.