Lost and Found Friendships? Reconnection Not Always Required

summer camp photo

At summer camp, one of my favorite songs was the one where we sang about friendship – you may remember it, too, we promised to stay friends, friends, friends, “we will always be, whether in fair or in dark stormy weather, at Camp (insert name here), we’ll all stay together”?

That doesn’t always happen. Even though Facebook and other social media (this Blog, for example) makes it all too possible for people from our past –  friends from camp, school, our jobs, through our kids, to easily find us and seek us out.

Friend me, please?

Often I say no and then feel bad about it.

This has been on my mind lately as I sometimes turn down these overtures. Not that I am Ms. Popularity or anything (hardly, you’d have to look to my husband, Mr. High School Class President who holds that title) but when people I was once friendly with (which is different from being friends with? Or I am getting overly technical here?) reach out to me on social media, I often don’t want to reach back.

Thinking about this while looking towards September, when we (speaking as a Jewish person here) observe our High Holidays, one of which is Yom Kippur, a day of reflection on the past. Strong friendships, and the caring and cultivation of them, have always been very important to me. So why am I hesitant to re-visit my former social circles?

The holiday also calls upon us to make amends to anyone we may have hurt in the past year. Perhaps some of the people I once knew wonder why I didn’t re-connect when they sought me out?

So here goes:

  • If I once dated you in high school or college or beyond, maybe the reason I’m reluctant to re-connect with you is because I am a different person now. Or I like to think I am a different person. And if we were to re-connect, I will remember bits about myself I didn’t like or experiences we had that I’m not so proud I had. I want to go forward, not backwards in my relationships. Hope you understand.

 

  • Or maybe you and I were pals in our Young Mom days, when our kids had so much in common – and now that they are young adults, they are on very different paths. I don’t want to be reminded of those early days when I thought that my child, who still struggles with mental health, wouldn’t always have those struggles. I liked you very much, Old Mom Friend, and I am glad you and yours are doing well, but it is tough for me to hear your news about you and your possibly perfect young adults. Too hard for me to listen, too many comparisons to make. So no, but thank you, to your friend request.

 

  • Then there are those people I worked with (I’ve only had 3 lawyer jobs in my life, I’m a loyal type.) I hesitate to re-connect because I’m not who I once was. You may know that I had to leave my law firm before I wanted to, before I expected to, because of cardiac-related-infections, complicated. (I’m fine now.) But I’m not quite as snappy and quick in my thinking (interestingly it’s mostly when I talk, less so when I write), as I once was. Can you detect that? I worry that you might be able to notice that the new me isn’t the old me. While I’m fine with my “new normal”, it isn’t what I thought it would be. Perhaps better if you stick with recalling the way I used to be?

***

The irony does not escape me that I am writing about my life on this Blog, in a careful sort of way, or trying to, – and it is open for all to read – while hesitating to re-connect with people who I once knew in real life.

I think there is a distinction. I greatly prize and carefully nurture the many in-person, friendships I have, all of which have gone through significant bouts of both fair and stormy weather. But with online-only friends you have to stay on your best “party manners” at all times. Or at least I feel an obligation to do so. Long-term pals are more likely to accept as you are.

Pouring my energies into preserving my in-real-life friendships feels more important to me than reconnecting with the past. Subject to change, of course, but as this September approaches, I wanted to let you know, in case you wondered, why I haven’t “friended” you back.

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Blogging, College, Communications, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Law firm life, Midlife, Moms, Parenting, Relationships, Social Media, Women, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

7 responses to “Lost and Found Friendships? Reconnection Not Always Required

  1. Jeanie

    Thank you for putting pen to paper to tell the truth about social media and me in my new life chapter. As well, I am thankful I am not the only one!!! LOL

    Like

  2. Very thoughtful piece, Nancy….it IS hard to figure out what friendships/relationships to retain/renew/re-cast/reject….it is easier when one is on the acting end of the decision, rather than the receiving end, i.e. why has that someone stopped being in contact with me?

    Like

  3. Trishas Gmail

    An interesting and honest explanation of one woman’s answer to a thoroughly modern dilemma. You put into words a feeling that has been lurking around the edges of my consciousness for a while. Thank you.

    Like

  4. Ellen

    I responded with a super long email that I just found got LOST. bummer.
    I thoroughly understand your position. Thanks for your comments today. There is a huge paradigm shift inside of us after having a well child turn
    into a mentally ill child, or there was for me…… and the place I had to pull my self from in grief and depression, has made me someone that really isnt so much into small talk. Although I still LOVE and long for connections with like minded people. I added more examples in my email but ill just share on this next time.Best
    Ellen

    Like

  5. Julie Jo Severson

    Great post Nancy. I truly admire a person, such as yourself, who uses this kind of discernment in social media vs. somebody who is just trying to get as many “friends” and likes as possible. I prefer to hide behind trees and curtains so putting myself out there a little over a year ago on Facebook was quite daunting. But I had a huge craving to reconnect and see faces from my past and the ability to do that is pretty darn cool. But if I get a request from somebody whom I’ve never had a genuine connection with, I’m like “what the . . . ?” and I don’t accept.

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  6. Well said Nancy. I think some people are better as memories in the past than reconnecting. I don’t know if our paths ever crossed in Northampton, but I am glad they virtually have now!

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  7. I totally get this, Nancy. And your “party manners” description feels apt.

    Like

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