Dear Prudence

Help! How Can I Reconnect With the Friends I Ghosted?

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Q. Missing old friends: Over the last several years, I’ve fallen out of touch with most of my high school and college friends. This is due partly to the hectic work and grad school schedule I have had for the last five years and partly to social anxiety that often prevents me from responding to texts and emails. I made wonderful friends in grad school but have been really missing some of my old friends lately. With the help of a therapist, I’ve made moderate progress toward overcoming my responsiveness issues. Is it weird to reach out to people I haven’t spoken to in years and who I more-or-less ghosted the last time we were in touch? Should I wait until I’ve made more progress with my anxiety and am confident I can keep up my side of the conversation? Or is it too late and I should focus on developing healthy communication habits in my new friendships?

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A: Not at all! I can’t promise you that everyone you contact is going to be interested in re-forging a close friendship, but it certainly isn’t “too late” to say hello to an old friend. It’s very common to lose touch with friends from high school and college as adulthood takes everyone in so many different directions; it’s not as if you’d bailed on all of these people in a crisis when they were used to hearing from you every day. Of course I agree you should also work on your new friendships, but it’s not an either/or proposition. Reach out to your old friends, but keep the new ones too (with apologies to the Girl Scouts, or whomever came up with the song).

You don’t even have to go into your social anxiety as justification for getting in touch. Just say it’s been a long time, that you were thinking of them recently, and wanted to know how they were doing. If that goes over well, and you start catching up on what the last few years have been like, you can certainly mention the changes therapy and finishing grad school have wrought in your life—but you don’t need to start with a mea maxima culpa.

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