When a Friend is Distant ~ How to Rekindle the Friendship

A distant friend leaves a space in your heart, waiting to be filled with fun, love and laughter.

In my article, Why Friends Drift Apart and Friendships End, several readers asked me what to do when a friend is distant and how to rekindle the friendship. These are good questions, but they’re not easy to answer. It often depends on the particular dynamics of the friendship and what is going on personally with each individual.

Here are some suggestions to help you discover what is happening and what to do next.

Why is the Friend Distant?

Explore all the possible reasons your friend has distanced from you. This will give you information to help you decide how to approach your friend.

Is your friend avoiding you? Does it appear that your friend has become busy, shut down and possibly depressed, or is she simply avoiding you in particular? If their personality appears to have changed, it may be nothing to do with you personally. She may be going through a difficult time, but doesn’t know how to express this to others.

What happened between you? Did you have a disagreement? Did you do or say anything that might have hurt or offended your friend. Or perhaps your friend did something inappropriate and feels guilty about it?

What does your friend say? Have you asked why he is distant? Does his answer make sense or ring true for you? If this person has a high level of self-awareness and trusts you and the friendship, you will most likely get an honest answer. But if not, he may not know what is going on within, or may not feel safe to discuss it with you.

What does your intuition say? You can analyze a situation until your brain hurts and still come up empty. But deep within you have all the answers you need – trust your intuition. Get out of your head and bring awareness into your body. What does your gut instinct tell you about the friendship? Now ask your heart – put a hand over your heart and ask what it feels about your friend. Is it time to mend the friendship or let it go? Finally, center within your higher self and look at the bigger picture. Perhaps you just need to give it time and trust that things will work out.

Have you grown apart? Do you still have similar values and interests in common or have you gone down different pathways? It’s not uncommon for friends to distance as they grow and change. If the context (school, work, hobbies etc.) has changed or ended, the friendship might too.

What did you discover from answering these questions? Is the friendship over and it’s best to move on? Or is there still a connection? If you want to pursue the friendship, keep reading.

How to Rekindle a Friendship

I’ve brainstormed a list of ways to reconnect with your friend and re-establish the relationship.

Allow time and space. Give your friend some time to release resentment, work out issues, and have an opportunity to miss you. Focus on your own life for a while and let your friend contact you.

Ask for forgiveness. If you feel you have done something to hurt your friend, write an apology letter and then follow it up with a phone call. But respect their need for time and space if they ask for it.

Forgive your friend. If you are angry or resentful for their distant behavior, find it in your heart to forgive your friend. This will create a safe space for him to come back into your life.

Send a fun or touching note. Mail or email a funny joke, touching poem, or heartwarming message about friends. This might soften their heart.

Suggest a new activity. Doing something new together might create a fresh spark of adventure in the friendship. Initiate something fun or creative to do together.

Be a wonderful friend. If you are a positive, supportive influence in your friend’s life, she will want to be around you. Explore ways to be a good friend.

Continue brainstorming as many ideas you can come up with. Then choose ones that feel appropriate. If you’re not able to mend the friendship, fill this space with your own fun, love and laughter.

Do you have any questions or insights on what to do when a friend is distant or how to rekindle the friendship? Please share in the comment section.

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Dear Readers,

I am not able to be on the computer much these days due to my current activities, so I won't be able to respond to comments very often.

I encourage you though, to use the comment section as a place to share your experience, read about others' and to respond to and support each other with your situations.

Take care,

Gini

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62 Responses to When a Friend is Distant ~ How to Rekindle the Friendship

  1. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Lily,

    It sounds like you have a lot of self-awareness which is great. Stopping the drunk-drama is a great first plan as it probably gets tiring for your friend. You can’t ‘make’ him oversee all the shit from the past, but you can create a new future by being your true self around him (no drama, no clinging as that is not who you really are) and over time, this is what he will see and appreciate in you.

    In the meantime, it sounds like you need to learn to nurture and love yourself so you don’t get caught being clingy or feeling needy because of missing the guy you had the summer relationship with. It’s great that you are aware of how you might be trying to replace him with your friend, so everytime you feel that lonely urge, ask yourself “what am I really missing?” If it’s the person from last summer, then continue to let him go. If it’s your friend, then call or text him to see if he wants to get together (I don’t recommend just dropping by as that puts him on the spot).

    But if you are feeling that inner loneliness we all go through at times, then focus on filling with the feeling and energy of self-love (do a search on my site for self-love articles or just look at all the articles under the category of Self). This will help you to feel less stressed, less depressed and less lonely. When we get to that place where we can enjoy time by ourselves, we become wonderful friends to others because we are coming from a centered, grounded, peaceful, happy place.

    Hope this helps – take care,

    Gini

  2. Angela says:

    I’m hoping that it isn’t too late for your wisdom on this topic but I need to get myself out of this mind pickle! Sorry about the essay which I hope fits in this section!! I know that the more I think about it the worse it becomes in my head but it is so hard to step back.
    I have a friend in my life who was a work colleague and close friend of my husband. We had never really met until my husband became ill. During his illness this friend was with me 100%, we cried together and supported each other as my husband passed away. After the funeral we were texting each other on a regular basis with very long phone calls, talking about anything and everything and generally having a good time. As time has gone by the contact has diminished and he is now not replying to texts and not picking up the phone.
    I know he has his own batchelor life and he needs to grieve for the loss of one of his closest friends but I am scared that he is gone from our lives for ever. I am also worried that I came across as too demanding or even ‘interested’ although we both had mixed messages in some of our conversations. He made promises to my children that he would be there whenever they needed him and would help them remember their dad. His last message about 12 weeks ago just said life was bad again and he would ring the week after. I have sent a couple of ‘we are okay, hope you are’ type messages but not tried ringing since and have got on with rebuilding my life.
    I am in a really good place now, I know 6months is still really early as a 40year old widow with 2 small children, but I am content with our life and accept that this is better than the life my husband and we would have had if he had survived his illness. I am enjoying my own company and learning who I am after 20years of marriage.
    My real dilemma is how do I tell him that I am not the needy person that I was while everything was happening and that I really want to get to know him better as a friend in my own right. Difficult when he is not responding in any way to contact and I don’t even know if he is reading my messages! Despite the circumstances we hit it off amazingly and had good fun and a laugh when we could. A number of my friends are telling me to walk away from him as he is not worth the stress and the lack of respect he is showing doesn’t warrant my time. After the time we have spent together I know he would be mortified if he knew how I felt and also that his past (which I am not willing to share with my girl friends) has an enormous impact on his coping mechanisms and reactions to intimacy and friendship which he has openly admitted and talked to me about. I want to give our friendship a chance but don’t know how to bridge the abyss that has developed and move forward. It is fuelled by the fact that he has walked away from his dream job and will be moving 10miles down the road from us and covering my husbands job until a replacement is found. He will be back in a week and although my friends and head are saying ignore him, my heart is saying otherwise which I am finding hard. I feel like this is a playground 14year old talking not a 40yr old talking about a man who is nearly 50 (both of us should be able to deal with this by our age!!!!)
    Any ideas would be great xx

  3. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Angela,

    Wow, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot and from what you say are in a great place of acceptance and moving on with your life – except for the friend.

    Whether he is just going through his own process and needs space (some men are great at being there for women during the peak crisis, but then need private space to do their own grieving) or whether he felt overburdened by supporting you so has backed off, it’s hard to know, but the message is clear by his actions – he’s not connecting with you so doesn’t want contact at this time. If you pull your energy out of this, he may contact you again, but it most likely won’t happen by you pursuing him or trying to explain things to him.

    You mentioned that he shared his coping mechanisms around intimacy etc. with you and I’m guessing it means he doesn’t have great skills in this area. Do you really want to put your energy into that type of friendship at this point in your life? Your heart may be reaching out to him because he was there for you and you want to be there for him, but will it drag you down at a time when you need to keep uplifting yourself?

    There are times when our heart is drawn to someone for unhealthy reasons (old patterns from childhood etc where we are drawn to the wrong type of man for us etc.) and while your head may be warning you, I also suggest you touch into your inner voice, higher knowing, spiritual wisdom to know what is best.

    Hope this helps,

    Gini

    Take some time to turn inward and rest in inner stillness and silence and then ask yourself “what will it be like if I get involved with him” and then feel into your body, listen to the gentle voice within, or let symbolic images appear. Then ask, “what will it be like if I don’t get involved with him and move forward as I am” and listen, sense and see the answers.

  4. S.R. says:

    Hello,

    I feel like I need an outsider’s opinion on this.

    I’ve been working with my friend for over five years. I used to be very shy. I didn’t really talk much either, and my friend helped me “break me out of my shell” as she liked to say. In that time I’ve grown as a person, and I’ve really broken free from my shell. She took the time to reach out to me and make me a better person. We have really become good friends the last couple of years, and we used to talk a lot every day we saw each other at work. We’d laugh and joke, and we’ve even been to lunch together a few times. We’ve had minor differences before, but we’ve always worked through them.

    Recently, she’s been going through a lot of problems outside of work, and I’ve done my best to be there for her. I’ve done little nice things for her and have tried to be supportive…just to be there as a friend, and to return the favor for how she reached out to me. She’s told me that she “appreciates all of it more than I know.” But the last few days, it’s like she has totally shut down. She says “hello” and “goodbye,” but that’s the extent of our communication throughout the day. She seems to act normally around everyone else at work, but she barely says anything to me. Sometimes she’ll avoid eye contact and won’t say anything. I even told her that if she needed someone to talk to about it, I’m here. She simply said, “all right.” I just have to wonder if it’s something I said or did. I don’t know what to do, and I hope that our friendship still exists. I wouldn’t be who I am without her help. I should also note that I did have a crush on her (which she knew about), but I think I’ve gotten over that, and we’ve been friends ever since. This recent situation has me very puzzled and concerned, though.

    What should I do? I’d appreciate any insight.

  5. jac says:

    Hi Gini,

    Thank you for your blog. It really is helping me through my tough times, but I do need some advice.

    I have been the closest of friend with a work colleague for the past one and a half years. We used to text everyday 24/7, go on frequent holidays, hang out on weekends, share many common interests and topics. I have always been grateful having her around as a friend as she was someone I could trust my secrets with. And honestly, I have never been this close to any friend before. We supported each other when work was bad, when we went through rough patches with our family, and helped each other through when we quit our workplace and found new jobs.

    But since 6 months ago, ever since she switched jobs, things have not been good for us. I know she has been busy at her new workplace, but I still stood by her, asking how her day has been everyday without fail. I always came from the point of view of wanting to care for her, but she seems to get annoyed with me very easily. No doubt, she still cares for me as a friend, cheering me up whenever I feel down, but over time, I could sense her impatience with me. During this time I also find myself getting jealous when she stops texting me, or spends more time with her new colleagues. The last thing I ever want is to drift apart from her, and so I tried various ways to catch up with her by initiating hangouts with her, but she would claim she’s not free, or simply defer the dates which has been scheduled.

    We had an argument before where she did tell me before she wanted space to herself. And I gave in to her too. But, my guess is that she thinks im probing too much into her affairs, and she got really annoyed at it.

    About 3 weeks ago, she got really pissed off – I sent her a couple of texts to ask if she was ok, but she did not seem to want to reply me, so I asked her why does she seems to not want to reply me. This got her fired up, and did not reply any of my texts for 2 days. I tried calling her, but she avoided my call. In desperation of wanting to salvage this friendship, I dropped by her place. But it backfired, and she got really heated and chased me home. She eventually shot me an email telling me that she did not appreciate me probing into her affairs and she feels that there’s nothing to salvage from this friendship, and my actions have caused irreparable damage.

    I did reply her, telling her that i only wanted to care for her and not probe into her affairs. I also recognised that me dropping by her place is highly inappropriate. It has been 2 weeks since the email exchange, and I have not spoken to her. I am feeling so destroyed and upset, and I have cried so many times during this 2 weeks.

    I was hoping to get some advice on some matters please. Firstly, I have no clue what happened during the past 6 months, that caused a drift. And, she did not give me a chance to clear the air with her when she got really pissed. From her actions, was it clear that she wanted to move on to her new phase of life, and I should have moved on from this friendship too? Her actions made me feel that I have appeared to be too clingly in the past 6 months. Is this how I should be feeling?
    Secondly, I still wish to salvage and talk to her face-to-face. But i have no clue how to do so, and whether it is the appropriate time to do so now. What is your advice on this?

    I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.

  6. Gini Grey says:

    Hello S.R. and Jac,

    S.R. – sounds like your friend is wanting some space and if you crowd in (even with worry thoughts) you will push her away. Pull your energy back into your own space, enjoy your life activities, and let the friendship unfold naturally.

    Jac – you do know what happened – you described it clearly in your comment – even your sense that you might be probing too much into your friends issues. When we feel smothered (even in a loving, caring way) we retreat to find our own space and self. This can sometime create a pursue/distance relationship as the other person doesn’t understand so moves in even closer to find out what’s going on (even with just their thoughts and energy). This sounds like what you have done with your friend and she is setting a boundary. Perhaps over time she will want to rekindle the friendship if you give her space in the meantime (by not even thinking much about her – miss her when she comes to mind and then focus on other things). Wait to contact her until it feels right within (not from a panic place, or longing place, but a comfortable easy place that says it’s time).

    Take care,

    Gini

  7. adam says:

    Hello. I was wondering if I could get some advice on my current predicament. I’m currently working abroad and have met a girl who I would consider to be one of the best friends I’ve known. In the early times we would share many common interests and talk about many personal issues however I worry that my eventual infatuation (unshared) with her may have driven her away. All I want now is a chance to make amends and be friends again but she ignores me whenever she can. I tried sending her a message apologizing but she’s acting like I never sent it. It frustrates her talking about these kind of things and I don’t want to make things worse but I’m worries that after are work period is over we’ll lose contact. Regardless of weather she wants to be friends or not makeing peace is something I need to do or I won’t forgive myself. Is there any way to make her communicate with me again?

  8. SJ says:

    Hi, I’d like to get this off my chest because it’s been bothering me a lot lately and I was wondering if you could help me with what I’m dealing with. My best friend of 4 years has been distant since we graduated from university and we live in the same city. A drastic change has happened and is still happeneing for months now. If I don’t call or message she won’t bother, if I don’t ask her if she wants to go out she will never ask and I’ve spoken to her about this issue multiple times and nothing changes. There is no reason whatsoever for all of this to happen. It’s draining and very tiring and can’t be the only one chasing after her. What do I do?

  9. Adele says:

    Hi Gini

    I used to have a best friend, at least i think she is, and i just got distant to her more and more because she gives me a feeling that she always concentrating on her business without pay any attention on me, her BEST friend.

    since we live in different cities, so we communicate by online chat sometimes and call accasionally. Everytime she talked about her son, her mother and herself, and normally our talk ends up with her topics above mentioned finishes. Sometimes i tried to say something about my life, and she responded with “oh” “yeah, it is normal.” etc.. I still remember once i sent her a small gift by courier and later she even didn’t tell me if she got it nor liked it. I am really tired with such kind of friendship with an self-centered person like her. I made the decision a few weeks ago that i must go distant with her and won’t expect her to rekindle our relationship. Our friendship is ending.

  10. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Everyone,

    It’s been a while since I’ve responded to comments (wish I could do more, but am not able to right now) so I’m going to try to address the past few comments with these brief points:

    - if a friend is not showing interest, they are probably not interested in being friends
    - if you are doing all the listening or initiating etc., this is a pattern that will most likely not change so you can accept it, or move on
    - if a friend is ignoring you, it is most likely because something has shifted within them or your relationship and they don’t feel the same connection (think of it like hobbies, or tastes, how they change over time). Unless there is an unresolved issue between you, which you can address as best you can, but otherwise you can’t change how your friend feels or behaves.

    Hope this helps, and please add your own insights for each other on the site.

    Thanks,

    Gini

  11. Emily says:

    Hi, first of I want to say thank you for taking the time to read and respond to the following comment. I’m not a very open person. I have many friends, but not many close ones. Last year i started getting close with someone new to my school and we became best friends quickly. We’ve stayed friends, but later in the year she started getting more distant. The only way we ever see or talk to each other is if I want to. Right now she’s off on a trip and instead of telling me all the juicy details, she asks me about an assignment for school then says nothing else. We go weeks wihtout talking because I finally decided that I wasn’t going to play into her hands. I really want to find out what happened because I know I didn’t do anything. We’ve never fought and we share most interests. I’ve been extremely patient with this and I don’t know if it would be better to confront her or to just stop talking.

  12. Chanel says:

    Hello, I have a few concerns, ok the first one. My cousin and I were like sisters (we’re a year apart) in middle & high school. Went shopping, got our nails done, you name it. I helped her pack her things for her first year of college, which really hurt my heart cause my “big sis” was leaving me in high school for her next chapter in her life. I knew that I would see her when she came home for breaks and the summer, but it wasn’t the same. Really didn’t go out much cause I enjoyed our time together. She invited me up to see her one weekend at college I was so thrilled I said yes without another thought, yay me going to be on a college campus meeting college people. Enjoyed every second with her at her school and her friends. She gave me a tour of the school. Showed me the college life. On that Sunday I went back home and she said that I could visit her anytime I wanted just let her know. Her second year I visit her again at school but this time she was in an apartment. Then I think it was her third going to her last year she got pregnant and everything went down hill. We basically stopped hanging out and became “distant cousins” instead of “sisters”. I didn’t say nothing to brother her. I’ve only seen her son a few times in his four years of life. What should I do? I found her on Facebook and she hasn’t accepted my friend request?

    My second story, it’s about my other cousin. She was basically like my sister too. She used to babysit me during the summers. When I first came on my period she told me everything I needed to know. When she got married the first time I was her Jr. Brides Maid. When she went through her dilemma with her ex-husband I return the favor, I babysat her two daughters. After she remarried I saw a few changes in her. We were texting buddies until last year. The last text message she responded to was on her birthday. I texted her on Thanksgiving & Christmas but never heard back from her. What should I do with this situation?

    Third and last, a good friend of mine just became a “distant friend”. I didn’t do nothing that I know of. What should I do?

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