How to fix old friendships: Tips to breathe life into a faded relationship

If there’s a long-lost pal you’d like to reconnect with, the first step is to write or pick up the phone.
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Along with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, maintaining positive social connections is one of the most important factors for a long and happy life. Some studies suggest it’s just as beneficial as giving up smoking! 

Most people find their social circles shrink as they get older, with our 30s considered the peak time for shedding friends. However, as we head towards retirement years with kids flying the coop, it’s often a time when we need our buddies most.  

“Healthy relationships are the underpinning of our mental health and launch us to success,” says Joanne Wilson, a neuropsychotherapist and founder of The Relationship Rejuvenator. “A great friend is worth valuing and often can be just as important, if not more so, than family as we age.”  

Making new friends is one way to broaden your social circle, but maintaining the bonds we already have is also key. If there’s a pal you’d like to catch up with, now’s the time to rekindle your friendship!


Reaching out to old buddies can feel awkward. If you have a few reservations, ask yourself why you lost touch in the first place. While some friendships fizzle because you’ve grown apart, it can also be a matter of circumstance. It could be that you’ve have had less time to catch up due to an increased workload or lifestyle differences.   

If you fell out after an obvious rift, hindsight may help you to unpack who was at fault and how much was caused by misunderstandings.  

“Pay attention to the intention behind the behaviour,” advises neuropsychologist Dr Hannah Korrel, who adds it’s worth trusting your instincts. “Your gut has a pretty good radar for what was intentionally malicious and what was just an honest mistake from a friend who loves you.”  

Sickness, death and grief can often bring about heightened emotions. Many of us also shed a friend or two during the turbulent times of the pandemic.  

“Every person’s attempts to cope with the unknown is varied,” says Joanne. “COVID-19 brought out some bizarre and often selfish behaviours.”  

Some friends may have put pressure on those around them by being needy, while others may have withdrawn from online interactions or struggled with re-entering the social scene. Remember, we’re all fallible and have different ways of coping.  

The First Step

While it’s normal for people to grow apart, some relationships are worth saving. If a friend complements your talents and interests, respects your values, supports you during tough times and makes you feel positive, safe and happy (rather than exhausted and drained), Joanna says they’re a keeper.  

It may also be time for some honest self-examination. “What is your definition [of a good friend] and are you one?” Joanna asks.  

“Do you take responsibility for any part in the demise of your connection?”  

If you do realise that you were the guilty party, some heavy lifting may be required to mend the breach. Instead of just sending a text, consider a handwritten note or even a hamper of goodies. 

It’s also not just your own friendships that matter. If you’ve fallen out with any of your partner’s friends, now is the time to extend the olive branch. “It’s respectful and kind to make an effort,” says Joanne. 


There’s nothing like a cuppa for catching up with friends, old and new. Visit your local Jamaica Blue with a friend before May 1, 2024 to receive a free banana bread when you order two coffees in the same transaction. T&Cs apply, visit 

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