It’s a Secret that Reconnecting with Old Friends Is Good for You. It was 1990 when the two men met on a train from Indianapolis to Salt Lake City. In their early 30s at the time, they started talking to each other while waiting in line for snacks in the snack car. They kept talking for hours, even though they were waiting for hours. When they arrived in Utah, they gave each other their phones’ numbers so they could call each other.
Kevin and Ron and their wives became close over the next few years. They met for birthdays and football games, ate together, and celebrated the birth of their first babies.
Then they had jobs that took them to different cities. Calls and cards came to a stop. In about 25 years, they hadn’t talked. Yet, Dr. Masters found that he was thinking more about his old friend all the time.
Reconnecting with someone who knew you when you were younger seemed like a powerful way to stay grounded, says Dr. Masters, a clinical health psychologist in Denver who is 63 years old.
Do you miss old friends? You’re not the only one. Old Friends from our past can help us feel more stable when things are going crazy.
Research shows that nostalgia is often caused by psychological distress. People often feel nostalgic when they are sad, lonely, anxious, or disconnected, or when they don’t know what to make of life.
“Covid makes us feel like our lives aren’t the same as they used to be.” The North Dakota State University psychologist Clay Routledge, who has been studying nostalgia for 20 years, says that we’ve lost our sense of what we’re all about. It can help us remember who we want to be, who we want to be around, and what we think is important in life if we think about the things we’ve done in the past.
Studies by Dr. Routledge and others show that nostalgia makes people happier, more confident, and more self-assured. It makes us feel more connected to other people and optimistic. It makes us think that life has more value. And it encourages us to set goals, reconnect with people who used to be important to us, and start new relationships.
During any time in our lives, we can become a little sad. People are more likely to miss their adolescence or early adulthood than any other time in their lives. This is probably because that’s when we found out who we were and formed our own relationships.
In his book, Dr. Routledge says that most people are nostalgic about social experiences, like when they were with family or friends. Feel like they are someone we can trust. We may want to be there for them or need their help. Old friends, especially those from our youth who may also know our family, are often the people we think truly know us.
I recently got emails from three Old Friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time. One was from my first job, another from The Wall Street Journal, and the third was from summer camp when I was 15. Each letter made me feel better right away, and when I wrote back, I felt less alone.
I got a boost of energy from the memories that the letters made me think of. The thought of my younger self and her goals made me work harder to meet my deadline. Afterwards, I sat down and wrote down all the people I miss. There’s a person on the list I’ll reach out to each week.
My sources told me about people who have reunited with high school and college roommates, former lovers and boyfriends. Letters from a long-lost friend, moving near their childhood home, or hearing about a death or illness made them want to get in touch with their friend.
She wrote to a college friend she hadn’t seen in 20 years after seeing her picture. Rebecca Brooks, 50, did this this summer.
A woman who had died wrote a lot about spirituality and her family and her mother. A New Jersey woman who owns a public relations company and lives in Morristown said that she was looking for a deeper connection with her old friends. “Then I saw that we had a lot in common. ” ” It turns out that the old friends reconnected over Zoom and have since had two in-person talks. When they went to her house, Ms. Brooks took out her old journals, and the women sat on her bed and read them, too. “I was reminded of the things that made me who I am,” says Ms. Gilligan, 52, who owns a clothing business and lives in Fort Collins, Colo.
Now, the friends send texts and videos all the time. They are also planning to have a third meeting. Friends from when you were young are the best, says Ms. Brooks. They know you and your family in a way that adults don’t.
In the fall of last year, Dr. Masters looked for Ron Grant on the web. In the next few days, he and his wife were going to rent a house in the Seattle area for one month. He knew his friend lived in Tacoma, so he felt like he had to act quickly. When he found an email address, he wrote and asked if Mr. Grant and his wife would like to meet up with him. As soon as Mr. Grant heard back, they set up a visit.
On the day of the event, Dr. Masters was nervous. “Will it be the way I remember?” Then, when he opened the door, Mr. Grant yelled out his name, threw open his arms, and made a joke. They laughed and hugged. People were having a party when Dr. Masters said that.
All weekend, the two couples talked about their families, jobs, current events and plans for the next few years. 61-year-old Mr. Grant is the manager of a life insurance programme. He told an interesting storey that he hadn’t told many people before. Then, Dr. Masters also talked about something personal with us. There was a time when Mr. Grant thought he was like a brother to him. “That was really unique.”
Getting back in touch with people we had a history with “felt like a deep grounding in my soul.”