How I Keep Old Friends From Becoming Former Friends

We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t make old friends.” That’s not to say you can’t meet new friends and acquaintances that you keep for life. What the saying means is that you’ll never be able to build the type of relationship with a new friend that you have with the people you grew up with.

That’s not to say that new friends you make won’t go on to be your best and closest acquaintances. It simply means that the bonds you build with friends when you’re young are different than those you make in your twenties, thirties, and beyond.

Old friends also bring back feelings of nostalgia and happiness from a simpler time before you were hardened by life’s troubles. While new friends can bring about similar feelings of joy and happiness, they won’t remind you of the good ole days like old friends do.

However, just because you can’t make old friends doesn’t mean that you can’t lose them. Whether it’s because of the business of life, because you move away, or because you simply move on, it’s much easier to lose old friends than it should be.

Distance Creates Barriers

Whether you like it or not, keeping up with old acquaintances takes effort and dedication. This is especially true when you move away from your hometown, but everyone else stays put. I understand this firsthand because it’s exactly what happened to me.

I grew up in a small, tight-knit community in northeastern Ohio. It’s the type of community where you are born and raised and where you often end up settling down after getting married. Most of my friends from high school and post-high school followed this pattern and are currently living just miles from where they grew up.

I, on the other hand, decided to move to South Carolina for 15 months, where I fell in love with a girl from Indiana. We ended up getting married and moving back to my hometown for the first two years of marriage.

However, to pursue work and educational opportunities, we ended up moving away, never to return again. Suddenly, all of the people that I had spent most of my life with were gone, while they all remained behind and closer than ever.

The Importance of Keeping Old Friends

For a long time, I was ok with the idea of moving on and leaving my old friends behind. However, the more time and distance that got put between us, the more I yearned for those feelings of closeness, warmth, and nostalgia.

Old friends make you feel comfortable because they know and love you for you. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit into their desired mold because they already know all your strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to keeping you connected to simpler, less stressful, and more innocent times, old friends are also more likely to be honest with you and hit you with hard truths. This is important if you want to reach your full potential or if you’re doing things in life that you shouldn’t be doing.

Maintaining Friendships Takes Work

This topic hits home for me because I’m not someone who does a good job keeping up with old friends and acquaintances. I’m not great at growing relationships, in general, and my closest friends are my wife, my parents, my siblings, and my in-laws. While that might sound lame, it’s good enough for me 99.9% of the time.

However, there’s still something in all of us that craves for those connections to times past. As such, I recently decided to make more of an effort to rekindle relationships with some of my oldest friends.

You Have to Be the One to Travel

If you live far away like my family and I do, it’s going to be up to you to put in the miles, plain and simple. Your friends have their own things going on, and they likely don’t have the time to leave their own families just to visit you.

I put in some of those miles when I drove 10 hours from New Hampshire to Ohio, plus 10 hours back, for our annual fantasy football draft. It was the first time in nearly a decade that I was able to be at a draft in person. While it took some time, energy, and money, I didn’t regret it for a second. I had a chance to talk, face to face, with guys that I hadn’t seen in years, and they expressed their gratitude that I was willing to put in the work.

Putting in the Work Pays Dividends

It’s also worth noting that because of my weekend excursion, I was able to reconnect with one friend in particular. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but he had taken a similar path that I had in that he didn’t stick around in our hometown after he got married.

As such, we had common ground to bond over. Roughly three months later, we happened to be in the same area at the same time, and he asked if we could get together for drinks and to shoot the breeze. We’ve been staying in contact via Snapchat and Messaging ever since, and I feel a connection to my roots that I had all but lost.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

In addition to face-to-face communications, you can also maintain relationships with messaging services like GroupMe. For instance, I’m part of a GroupMe group with all of my old high school friends, known as the “Dumb Ass Group.”

It’s an appropriate name for us, as most of our discussions revolve around sports, current events, and nonsense. While messaging isn’t always the most personal way to keep in contact, it’s certainly better than nothing. I get to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in each of their lives because they use GroupMe to announce things like pregnancies, births, job changes, and other life events.

Make the Most of Time Together

Finally, it’s important that when you do get to spend time with old friends, you make the most of that time. For instance, when I spent two days driving to a one-night fantasy draft, I didn’t waste my time making small talk. Instead, I had in-depth conversations with my friends about marriage, raising kids, surviving cancer, and more.

The same was true when I met up with one of those same friends for drinks in Florida. Sure, we spent some time reminiscing about high school, but most of our time was spent talking about serious life events. As a result, we grew closer and I learned things about him that I never knew.

Final Thoughts

While maintaining relationships and keeping old friends from becoming former friends is hard work, it’s work worth doing. All it takes is some time and effort on your part and a willingness to be the one who travels to visit. In addition to keeping you connected to your past, maintaining relationships with old friends will also keep you grounded and moving toward the future.

About Author

Jalin is a full time writer who enjoys writing about his own journey being a dad, husband, and someone deeply passionate about his work. His authenticity in what it means to be a stay at home Dad shines through in his story as he seeks to inspire other men to not only run after their dreams, but to do so in a way that is supporting and uplifting to the people most important in your life.

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