A while ago, I tried to find some people I knew in the past through Facebook and LinkedIn. I received few responses from those I contacted. One woman I was looking for I considered one of my best friends in college. We stayed in touch for a number of years after we graduated. Then she went back to her home state, got married, and had kids. Over the years we lost touch.
I had been trying to find her for years. Facebook finally gave me access to her email address. In my message I expressed my great happiness that I found her, and asked about her life over the years. She gave a courtesy response, and some aimless ‘hope you’re doing okay’ type of comments. It was terse and impersonal, and it hurt.
I wondered why she was so distant. I still smile when I think about her and our college friendship. I wanted to see and talk to her again. It was clear, though, that she had moved on.
Her aloofness made me think about the whole concept of reconnecting with old friends. Facebook and other social networking web sites have made contacting old friends and relatives easier to do. After a while of soul searching, I decided that I have to accept that some people do not want to get together again with people from their past.
Why do people put others out of their life? Why don’t they want to re-connect? I made a list of the various potential scenarios why some people do not want to know you again.
- They’ve moved on. They’re not in high school or college anymore. They put that experience in the past and on a shelf. They are different people with totally different lives and interests. They think of you as a person who wants to talk about old times. They’d rather not.
- There are aspects of their past they don’t want to re-live. They do not want to be reminded. I remember calling one person years ago for fundraising. She was a classmate of mine. She said she did not have a pleasant high school experience. She asked me to please take her name and number off the fundraising roster. Her comments reminded me of her tenure at the school. I could see where she might have had a difficult time then, and doesn’t want to have bad memories pop up every year.
- Their plate is already full of friends, acquaintances, and relatives. They are happy to hear from you, but that’s all. They believe they don’t have the time for one more person in their lives.
- You did something to the person in the past that really hurt. He has moved on emotionally and doesn’t desire any further contact. The issue for you is that you don’t know what you did that caused him to still have negative feelings toward you. He isn’t going to tell you, and so you will never have the opportunity to make restitution.
- Perhaps when they looked you up in Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, they felt that your achievements didn’t live up to their expectations. There is no payoff to knowing you. As far as they are concerned, you are not at their level
- Perhaps the person doesn’t believe they are at your level. Their best accomplishments were done in college. They peaked then, and now don’t want you to see them stuck in time.
- Perhaps he or she is a former lover. The good and bad memories are still fresh in the mind. There may still be embarrassment at how you broke up. He doesn’t know how the two of you would currently receive each other. Fear will prevent a person from re-connecting.
- Perhaps they really don’t know or remember you. You were firmly impressed when the two of you worked on a project together. But for him, you are a blur in his mind. It’s like receiving an invitation from a person on LinkedIn.com, and you haven’t the slightest idea who the person is that is inviting you to link to his account
Facebook and similar social networks no longer allow you to be hidden. It’s like going to your high school or college reunion. Seeing how people have changed over the years can be startling. Weight gain, hair loss, in a bad relationship, drugs, and alcohol abuse all have an impact on how you see yourself, how you want to be seen, and who wants to be seen with you.
One has to connect with other people in the world. The older I get, the more I feel that need. Some people are afraid to re-connect. I can’t really be angry or upset because someone doesn’t want to know me again. I’ve done the same thing at times. But it still hurts, and I’m sure the ones I have failed to connect with feel the same about me.
I have to be honest with myself. I may never know what kind of impression I have made on a person. Lack of acceptance sometimes is hard to acknowledge. I don’t plan to intrude on the life of people I once and still consider friends. They aren’t obligated to want to know me again. But I do want to acknowledge, even if just once, that there was a point in time, I was happy to know them, then and now.
© 2012 Carolyn Gibson
Suzie on August 08, 2020:
Thanks for this excellent article! It was spot on for my situation now. I've tried to re-connect with several old friends but with no luck. I'll move on, too and try to make new friends!
Bungle Pignuts on July 06, 2020:
I have been pursued by a former female platonic acquaintance on fb (I’m a man). Quite honestly I wish them no ill will but it was 20 -33 years ago. I’ve found the confidence to pursue the things I enjoy and, while I’m probably the same person as are they, I doubt we have much in common any more. There was probably a romantic thread from me somewhere in there too but unreciprocated and we are both happily married for 25 (them) 20 (me) years (or I am and they appear to be) so there is no merit in risking that being reignited. So I’ve ignored them on FB when they “found” me after 20 years and as a result they have very recently taken to commenting on my posts in an increasingly snarky way the longer I don’t respond. Rather than block them I’ve just ended my FB account and shut down social media except for LinkedIn which I use for work. An acquaintance, unlike a dog, should not have to be for life.
Ranga on December 15, 2019:
Nice Article. Recently I went through the same experience and I was hurt. Your article gave me some solace. Thank you.
Josh on August 09, 2019:
Excellent read. This is not just a problem that effects females only either. I recently turned 40, and I don't know if it was a midlife crisis, but I really started thinking a lot about my youth, and the people in my youth. Somehow I felt as though if I could re-connect with those people, I would have the same pleasure I had when I was younger. As hard as it is to accept, you just have to accept that many people that you knew have just moved on, and that's that. I watched a video recently where a this therapist type was talking about how the past is the past, but it's not real. It was real at some point, but it isn't now. What's real is rite now, and that's it. Thanks again for the read. I enjoyed it.
Lauren on March 24, 2019:
Yes I know what that's like I've deleted people from Facebook because they didn't want to be friends anymore it was fun in high school then I've been the one to not want to know someone a guy a neighbor in fact is the one I don't want to know anymore he puts his girlfriend first all the time and he did that in high school too so he's immature is what I'm saying
Lexi on December 12, 2018:
I am in this situation right now. I've known a girl since middle school and we're in our late 20's now. Every few years or so she wants to reconnect with me but I have some very bad memories when it comes to our friendship. I wasn't a great person then and now that I've changed, I don't want our friendship to remind me of the person that I was, as she definitely used to be the kind of person who would always point out your flaws.
I've seen her a few years back and her attitude was mainly the same as it's always been. No, I don't want to talk about old times as I've hated the old times. Who I was then is no where near close to who I am now, and I would hate for her to tell my new friends stories about how I used to be. In her mind, people don't change and they aren't allowed to. I've seen that a few years ago back when we were about 24.
I guess my point is that people grow up, change, and move on and the mature thing to do would be to accept that and make new friends. What isn't healthy is when a person clings to a relationship from middle school/high school and the both of you are nearing 30. Even if the frienship endding had something to do with you, the best thing to do is not to dwell on it, accept things and focus on the people who really do care about you and want you in your life. This story just reminded me of a situation that I am in now, and felt like getting it off my chest.
Troy Bell on November 05, 2018:
People come; people go; life goes on and the cycle continues.
Judith Kavanaugh on June 27, 2018:
awesome article. There are many i dream of. I have actually drunk spammed my mentor as I am terribly sorry about her death.
Brenda Hubbs on April 24, 2018:
DRM, you may like hearing from old friends and you may be normal. Others can be normal and NOT want to hear from friends they haven't heard from for decades. Both can be normal. Please don't judge what is normal based on what works for you.
DRM on January 21, 2018:
You may be over thinking this. All normal people like hearing from old friends from the past and if the relationship ended on a bad note, who cares. Normal people have matured past a few negative episodes to appreciate having a pleasant conversation with a person. Not saying you will have much in common after that but you will still have fun talking about the old days. Never assume aging is maturing. Understand studies have shown the 75% or higher of FB users are neurotics or grade high in narcissist testing. Their only out there to self promote and anonymously site their opinions on social topics. Also, you’ll probably have some phone calls with some old friends that are now part of the 75% and you’ll wish they didn’t called you back. To increase your success rate look at their page and post and stay away from the heavy users or expect negative or no response. Their just looking for likes and followers to feed their egos. So keep trying and enjoy the journey. Try linkedin, had very good success there.
Jo on October 29, 2017:
This is why I'm not on Facebook!
When people drift from your life or even suddenly leave your life, there are reasons - sometimes personal and sometimes not.
Life moves on and peopld change.
Facebook gives the illusion that we can all stay in contact and be friends forever.
I personally value my privacy and where I am now is where I am now, not ten years ago.
I cherish the memories of friendships past but if they're not present in my life now I know there's a reason - mine or theirs.
Facebook is a pox upon the planet!
You used to be able to travel and be faraway, but travelling with a fried who was on Facebook showed me that Facebook keeps you entwined with others you may hardly really know.
It's a trap methinks.
And a massive distraction from the real people and places that actually ARE in your life.
It's okay to say goodbye, our paths are going different directions.
The past is the past and should stay there - in my view...
Sid on January 18, 2017:
I re-connected with a friend, after eight years and got this response:
"not sure what you want from me. But at this point, I am not too curious to get chummy or friendly with you again. I want to leave it at this"
I was shocked to get this response. Agreed, the person was not a very close friend, however, I did consider the person to be a friend and we had moments and just time was gone. I was shocked with the response, needless to say, have never had this sort of a response and had to find something to make sense of it all. And your article came and and I feel much better after reading what you have said and some of the comments. I am ready to wrap my head around this and just move on.
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston on April 11, 2013:
Thank you for your comment. Trying to figure out why someone wants to know us again complicates the relationship.
Joy from United States on April 11, 2013:
nice elaborated hub... They don't want to know us because they don't have anything to get that done from us... :)
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston on August 06, 2012:
Thank you. Reconnecting is difficult if your efforts are rejected.
Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on August 06, 2012:
I've had similar experiences over the last few years. I had a friend that I'd grown up with literally since we were both in nappies, until I moved away when I was 13. I reconnected with her on Facebook more than a decade later, trying to mend the friendship, but by then it was already too late. We tried emailing, but it was strange - we had grown so much apart during that time, we didn't know that much about each other anymore. Social media is great for reconnecting, but it does take some getting used to when you need to realize not everyone that was once a part of your life, would want to reconnect again as much as you do. Very interesting article!
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston on July 03, 2012:
Thank you. I've become more nostalgic for past relationships as I see my nieces graduate from college and make great efforts to stay in touch with their friends.
StrictlyQuotes from Australia on July 03, 2012:
What a great topic! Your experience and honest advice is appreciated. There's a friend from my past who I wish I could find on FB but I haven't been able to locate her, she is probably married now with a new surname. I'd be upset if I did find her and she wasn't as thrilled as I was to re-connect. So, your story really moved me.
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston on February 10, 2012:
Thank you all for your comments. It took me a while to write this hub because it is personal to me. Your comments help me to remember that letting go of the past is sometimes a good thing. And, your positive comments have encouraged me to write more hubs from my own experiences.
Marie-Grace from Travelling, Always on February 10, 2012:
Sadly, so much of this is so true. It can be frustrating to see people leave your life that you considered so important.
hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on February 10, 2012:
I had a few friends on Facebook that I reconnected with and it didn't seem to go well. It's true, we have all changed. Voted up!
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on February 10, 2012:
Reconnecting with old friends can be so rewarding or so disappointing. There are some people I would love to find and others I would love to hide from. It is funny how feelings change over the years, too.
Great hub and voted up!
greekiegrl25 on February 10, 2012:
RJ68 from Memphis on February 10, 2012:
You know Carolyn you are so right about not reconnecting to some people. I know a lady that I grew up with and we were best friends until we moved in together and she changed. She became a person that I didn't even recognized so I cut off the friendship and never gave it another thought.
However about two years ago, I saw her again for the first time in over ten years. What made me realize that this is one person I never want to deal with again is that fact she is still the same person she was back then. No growth or maturity and still doing the same things. As people grow older you would think some things they would put behind them. But oh well such is life. :)
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston on February 10, 2012:
Thank you for your comments. It's sometimes difficult to let old friends go. It's an ego buster. Still, it creates time and opportunities for new friendships to develop.
americanwriter from USA on February 09, 2012:
A thoughtful article! Thank you. It reminds me of what former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, "What other people think of you is none of your business." It i hard not to care! I think she had it right. We can put our friendship out there open our hearts and our hands and if they aren't accepted we should put them back in our pockets and keep them warm for the next lucky person we let into our lives!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 09, 2012:
Carolyn, I can relate to "The older I get, the more I feel that need." You have given some pretty good reasons why some of the old friends have moved on. They're part of our past. Let's take advantage of the present.