Summer is here and many people are venturing outside to enjoy the weather. I’m overjoyed to see the amount of people that are out and about, the very same people who didn’t have the opportunity to do so last year. The recent pandemic has made it difficult for anyone to live what I would consider to be a normal life. We all put our lives on hold for a little while by staying indoors as much as we could to stop the spread of the virus. One year later, I’m grateful to see that things are starting to go back to normal.
The pandemic didn’t just affect our ability to go outdoors and lead a normal life, it also affected us in other ways. While staying indoors added monotony to our lives, it also caused a rift in some of our relationships with others. Limiting our social interactions to the people within our households affected our bonds with those outside our immediate circles. I have experienced this in my own life with extended family members and friends. Some of my loved ones went completely off-grid when the pandemic happened, and I find myself now trying to find ways to rekindle what was lost in the time we have not spoken. I know that my experience is similar to so many other relationship challenges that have happened in the last year. Many marriages have been tested (some to their limits), families have feuded, and friendships have dissipated under the stressors of COVID-19. Now that things are starting to return back to normal, it may be time to start the process of not only repairing ourselves, but the relationships that may have suffered in the aftermath.
Sometimes when you are estranged from someone for a long time it can be difficult to reconnect. Depending on the circumstances of estrangement, uncomfortable emotions may stir themselves up if you are thinking about reaching out. One thing is for sure, it is hard to know where to start. How do you reach out? What do you say? How can you establish a healthy relationship this time?
The first step to reconnecting is establishing a reason why you want to reach out. Is it healthy to establish this connection again or would it be a good idea to leave it be? As good as it may feel to reach out to someone that you miss, the next step is figuring out if something in the past needs to be addressed. Would it make sense to talk about the reason why you stopped talking to someone in the first place or would it make sense to simply move past it because of different values?
It is important to prepare yourself for all outcomes after you try to establish contact. You may have a good experience, or you may find that the other person is not willing to reconnect. Either way, thinking about how you will respond in different scenarios will mentally prepare you for moving forward in any situation.
Planning a conversation starter can be helpful when reconnecting. Think about what you would want to hear if you were being reached out to first. Some examples of conversation starters include “I am sure hearing from me is a bit of a surprise, but I’m hoping we can have a conversation.” or “It’s been a very long time since we have spoken to each other, I would really like to change that.” Considering a method of communication is also important when reaching out to someone. Try weighing the pros and cons of face-to-face contact vs a phone call or text.
The final step is the hardest step of all, reaching out. Take a deep breath and pick up the phone or send a message. If you get a response, try to build trust over time and take the newly rekindled relationship slowly. If things are awkward at first, keep making a consistent effort. With time and consistency, contacting one another should seem more natural to both parties.
Our relationships are what we make of them. If we do not nourish them for growth, eventually they wither away. Cherish those relationships that give your life meaning and know that even if you lose connection with someone, you may be able to repair the relationship with a little bit of work.