The remnants of COVID-19 will linger for many years to come, but we shouldn’t allow it to cripple an important part of our lives: our friendships. The pandemic inadvertently caused a negative shift to happen to the bonds with the ones we love most. Meet-ups, Sunday brunches, shopping escapades and one-on-one interactions came to a screeching halt, but when things finally returned to normal, many have chosen to stick to the new way of things by choosing to stay home and meeting with friends virtually instead of getting out and meeting in person.
“What was brought to the forefront was, ‘Which of my relationships have been superficial?’” Brittainy Noel, a licensed therapist and confidence coach, told ESSENCE in an interview. “Many times, when we go out to brunch or we go shopping with people in our lives, we may be enjoying the experience even if we’re not actually having communications that increase intimacy. But when life gets tough, as it did during the pandemic, only certain types of friendships are able to sustain a real connection—and those are the friendships that force us to share a deeper level of vulnerability, of transparency.”
If you’re thinking of new ways to reignite friendships with your sister friends, keep reading for insightful tips on how to strengthen your bonds again.
Fracturing a broken friendship sometimes mean stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching out to friends who have become distant. Initiating a simple text message requesting that you two speak on the phone is a first step. Once a phone date is scheduled, make it a point to request to meet for lunch or a movie. These are simple ways to reignite a friendship and reestablish trust. The first few meet-ups may be uncomfortable because you will have to get used to each other again, but stick through it and before you know it, you two will be back to where you both were when the friendship was at its peak.
Be of help
One of the best ways to restore bonds is to tap into any challenges your friend may be going through in her personal life. You may have noticed she posted a picture of her mother who recently passed, or retweeted an article about how to deal with divorce. Use these moments to reach out and ask how you can support her through any trying times. One good practice is to send daily affirmations or ask her to accompany you to a place of worship. You should expect the same from your friends.
“Ask yourself: Is this someone I still feel connected with? Can I talk to this person about my vision, my hopes, my dreams—and walk out of that interaction feeling motivated and seen and heard? When you learn to value connection over company, you naturally gravitate toward people who want to see you do well,” she says. “Those are the people who are willing to resolve conflict when it comes up, because the purpose of your relationship is so much greater,” Noel says.
Accept new boundaries
The pandemic has inevitably changed the way some of us choose to live our lives. While daily activities may have resumed back to normal, some would rather not attend events where large crowds will gather or may choose to wear a face mask at an outing. Be accepting of this new reality. Do not judge or make jokes about being “lame” because of the extra precautions she may choose to take. You never know how COVID-19 may have affected them. Your friend may have lost a loved one or suffered a great deal from the virus. Don’t cut off a friend because she behaves differently post-pandemic.
Make room for new
The Drake reference “No New Friends” is a lifestyle some have come to adopt, but it is important to allow new people to enter your circle. Blocking new people from entering your life can stifle many future opportunities and limit lifelong memories. With that said, it is okay to be selective with who you allow in your circle. Recognize how you feel when you are around new people. Listen to your heart and know when to proceed with establishing a friendship and when not to. It’s all energy.