by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, July 2011
Even though you know the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of having friends, you may have difficulty keeping up with your friendships. Busy lives, family, work obligations, and trying to fit in that all-important private time often prevent you from nurturing valuable friendships. Sometimes it even causes you to be reluctant to reach out to old friends with whom you have lost touch or whose counsel or company you may have enjoyed in the past. For many reasons, cultivating friendships gets lost from your radar screen.
You can pick up where you left off with some friends; play quick catch-up and all is well. When you are with them you wonder where the time has gone. You miss being in their company and you know you are safe in their presence and that whatever you tell them will be safe, too. They respect and honor you and your privacy.
But how do you actually reach out to someone from whom you have fallen away? Just pick up the phone? Send an e-mail? In some situations, that works fine. In others, it doesn't. Find what works for you. Be conscious of why you are contacting this person at this time. Perhaps you need something. You child wants to apply to your friend's alma mater; your husband is ill - you need to have access to a hospital where she can be influential; you need a loan and she has money. Whatever the reason, be up front about it. If there is a reason for your falling away and you are not sure what it is, or you have an idea of what it is, be up front about that too.
When there is a warm place in your heart for an old friend, the years do not have to affect it. You may be somewhere that reminds you of your college roommate, so why not reach out and give her a call? When you are in her city for a conference and think it would be good to say hello after all these years, do not hesitate. Just be clear about what you want and why you are reaching out and see what happens.
Not all friendships are created equal. Friendships of long ago may stay as they were in our memory or be revisited and rejuvenated.
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