I grew up in Michigan. I went to college in Virginia. I lived in both Pennsylvania and New Mexico for short periods of time. Because of these moves, I acquired friends all over the United States—and even all over the world! As an extrovert with many friends, I’ve struggled with how I should maintain friendships across state lines. And when some of these friendships drifted apart, I questioned whether or not I should rekindle deep friendships with people I wouldn’t see more than once a year (at most).
Everyone will have a different answer to this question because no two relationships are the same. But if you’re deciding whether to put forth the effort to reconnect with an acquaintance, here are four questions to ask first.
1. Why do you want to reconnect? Do you miss their company? Or do you feel guilty for how the friendship ended before? We have to really look at our motives when rekindling a relationship. Most of the time our motives are pure, but there’s always a chance we’re pursuing a friendship out of pride, fear or selfishness. Think about why you really want to reconnect. While you’re considering this, also think about how much time it will take to invest in this relationship.
2. Will she reciprocate? Does it seem likely that your friend will WANT to connect with you? I’ve tried to reconnect with friends only to find my efforts completely one-sided. At some point you have to accept that the other person has moved on. They are in a new stage of life, and so are you. Going backward, or developing a friendship after years apart, can be very difficult —and not everyone wants to do it. This is often not personal, but a matter of time constraints.
3. What do you have to do to maintain the friendship? What will it take for you to reconnect? Weekly phone calls? Text conversations? Flying to one another? Really think about what it will take and if your friend is healthy enough to reciprocate your attentions. Granted, we shouldn’t go into relationships looking only for what we can get out of them. But we’re also limited in time and resources. Spend your energy on the relationships that feed your soul.
4. Are you sacrificing relationships in your current community to maintain one long distance? This is very important. Sometimes we try to rekindle an old friendship to avoid making new ones in our immediate community. We want the familiar, the easy, so we resort to old relationships instead of stepping out and developing roots. This is not healthy! Evading necessary community through old friendships is just a form of codependency.
It’s perfectly fine to rekindle an old friendship, but be sure you’re also investing in the people around you. It will take effort and some trial and error, but as you ask for wisdom and courage, God will help you develop godly relationships right where you are—and long distance, too.