Rusty Relationships

It looks like we are going to be able to hang out with our family and close friends pretty soon, but after so much time apart, it would not be surprising if we feel shy or a bit rusty about rebuilding friendships with acquaintances that we haven’t seen or spoken with since Covid began.

Likewise, most kids have kept up with their BFFs but there are lots of other children they haven’t seen in a long time who may now be taller or look different, than the last time our kids saw them. Their classmates may have developed new interests as well or may have embraced a new persona or a new outlook since last year.

We grownups may seem different too; we may have developed a bit of pudge or allowed our gray to grow out, and if we’re still wearing masks it is quite possible that our old acquaintances may not even recognize us. We have changed, our kids have changed, and for sure our life experiences have changed.

You know how it is…with some friends it is easy to fall back into a comfortable relationship after not seeing one another in years. Other relationships however that were still in the process of being built may seem a bit awkward…at least at first.

It’s a new social world too… we used to go in for a hug or a cheek kiss, but now we’ve got to figure out air hugs and heart taps. The rules have yet to be written so we may need to be a little more sensitive and take more of our cues from body language. Smiling continues to be a powerful tactic for making connections so if we’re wearing masks, we need to make certain we are creating "smiley eyes."

Creating connections with other people takes time; in fact, two hundred hours according to one study. When we’re just starting to get to know someone again, along with commiserating over the pandemic, we can foster intimacy by gradually revealing some meaningful things about ourselves that will encourage our new friend to do the same.

Friendships do ebb and flow and we probably let quite a few of them drift away during Covid. As we have the opportunity to renew friendships, it’s going to a lot like the first day of school; our environment will be different, the people around us may be different, and even our neighborhoods don’t look quite the same.

We are different too; we have had a lot of time for reflection, we are a year older and wiser, and we may not be the same light-hearted person that we were before Covid. Social media cannot substitute for in-person friendships, so we need to move forward rather than fret over things that are not the same as before.

We are all human, and human beings need to have connections. Nothing can take the place of friendships, so keep at it. With flexibility and patience, we can foster friendships in almost any situation and keep them for who knows… maybe a lifetime!

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