Two women standing side by side outside under the clouds

When I’m home, I pass the same tree every time I go for a walk. Once, there was another tree there, much more stout and cracked down one side after a violent storm. Still, I think of that tree when I pass the new one, tall and full of leaves as it thrives.

My good friend taught me how to climb trees or rather she encouraged me to. She told me not to be afraid when I wobbled or slipped. As others passed below, we made its loose branches our home for an afternoon and laughed the higher we went. She drew on her sneakers with permanent markers and wrote our memories on the toes that we danced on while singing ’90s pop music.

These pangs of nostalgia spring up when I see the greener, stronger tree, and I am filled not only with fondness of the memories of those warm summer days but also with sorrow—even with regretYou wonder if it was all worth it when eventually that friend, who you shared secrets with, drifted out of your life with a bang or perhaps softer, without notice. 

You wonder if it was all worth it when eventually that friend, who you shared secrets with, drifted out of your life…

You question whether you made the right decision to let it end that way once, twice….maybe more as time passes and you catch them just as you remember, waiting in line at the grocery store.

Time passes, and the reminders of the final war of words you had together stings less in the face of reconciliation. They may say they’ve changed, and you know that you have too. However, you pause in the moment as they ask to catch up sometime.

It has been too long. And it has. Though the answer of “absolutely” is already on your lips, so are the memories when you stand across from them and consider.

When a former friend wants to reconcile, here are a few things to consider:

Why did the friendship end? 

Take time to reflect. Have you both processed the hard parts of your friendship ending? Have you each taken time to reflect on the parts of yourself that needed to grow? Have you both taken space to heal and assess what you brought to the table of your friendship?

In order to move on and have a healthy relationship, vulnerability is essential. Perhaps you need to have this conversation both with yourself and each other in order to work through old wounds and the issues that ended the friendship.

Can you trust this friend again?

No longer children playing in trees, you may question the viability of honest conversations. You miss the old days of knowing you had their utmost confidence in whatever you confided in them or when you needed advice. 

So when it comes to having a conversation, consider saying yes. However, it is important to take it slow. Trust is earned. It should not be given out freely.

Trust is earned. It should not be given out freely.

When you look at your former friend, it may be hard not to want to let bygones truly be bygones and quickly jump back into the relationship you remember. This time around, however, you should manage your expectations of your friend and this friendship.

You may need to test the waters a little here before diving in headfirst. Be honest with yourself about your boundaries and needs in order to see if this is a relationship that still fits positively into your life.

Is this friendship worth rebuilding?

Your answer might be, “Yes, it is. We have a lot to talk about.” Perhaps, you aren’t in a place where you want to invest in this friendship or you are not interested in trying again. You could simply smile at your former friend and say, “Maybe another time,” or “Thank you for reaching out. I am focused on moving forward at this time in my life.”

There are no right answers. However, it is truly OK if you are not interested in rekindling a former friendship right now or in the future. Sometimes, even when the memories pull you back, you are meant to keep walking and to move forward on your afternoon walk past the blossoming tree.

Have you ever had a former friend attempt to reconcile? How did you decide if it was a friendship worth revisiting?

Image via Sami Drasin, Darling Issue No. 24

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