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Keeping Up With the Old and Welcoming the New

Keeping Up With the Old and Welcoming the New

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is a collective event, each person experiences it in unique and personal ways. As we begin to enter a period with less social distancing and more socialization, the way our friendships and relationships have changed may become more noticeable. But no matter how these relationships have been reshaped by the pandemic, we can still embrace them as they are today. Consider the following approaches to help you rekindle old friendships and create new connections with acquaintances:

  • Reach out to old friends. Rekindling “dormant ties” can be easier than making new friends, so consider sending a text to someone you were close to or had a casual connection with in your pre-COVID life (Cusumano, 2021). The interaction could spark a new connection and benefit both of you.
  • Ask questions that go beyond small talk. Research suggests that asking deeper, more personal questions can lead to increased feelings of connection and happiness (Conick, 2020). Rather than discussing COVID or the weather, try asking an old friend or acquaintance what they have been grateful for recently or what they’re hoping to achieve in the future.
  • Reconnect with a time limit in mind. When we are spending time with our close friends, we may be apt to schedule long periods of time together or hours-long phone calls. Connecting in this way can be great, but it can also lead to burnout, especially as we readjust to what it means to see our friends again. Consider scheduling brief meetups that don’t put too much pressure on anyone involved, which allows you to reconnect with friends in a manageable way (Sandstrom & Whillans, 2020).
  • Connect through games or other activities (Bakkar, 2021). Ease anxiety and stress by planning an activity, like an outdoor game night or a walk in a new park. This allows everyone to place their focus on the (hopefully fun!) task at hand, rather than just having to “catch up” or keep a conversation going.
  • Forge and nurture your “weak ties,” which are casual acquaintances that are surprisingly powerful. Research suggests that small interactions, like saying hello to a colleague in passing or having a genuine interaction with your local barista, can lead to increased happiness and feelings of connection (Sandstrom & Whillans, 2020). As these opportunities for brief interactions begin again, capitalize on them! Find moments to genuinely connect with the people you meet, and make it a point to notice how you feel afterward.

After an unprecedented year, we will likely enter familiar situations with new expectations and emotions. Seeing friends will feel different than before and might present new challenges. We can use this experience as an opportunity for growth and renewed strength in our relationships.

Keeping Up With the Old and Welcoming the New



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