One of the best things about the Internet is our ability to reconnect with old friends and sweethearts. And one of the worst things about the Internet is that it has opened a door to our pasts that, in some cases, might best remain closed. There are wonderful stories about people who looked up an old flame from their school days to discover that he/she was still single, or recently divorced or widowed, and overjoyed to rekindle the fire. There is also, however, the distinct possibility that the person being sought is married and securely in the midst of family life. While most people love to hear that someone from their past is thinking about them, not everyone is ready to renew the friendship beyond “Hello, nice to hear from you!” Following are steps designed to assist those who want to break the ice without disturbing the status quo:
1) Let go of expectations
Aim to rekindle the friendship—not the love affair—and gauge the current situation. It’s easy to fill in the gap of the lapsed years with a fantasy image of the other person. Before you build a relationship or destroy one—and before you create a superhero in your mind—do a reality check.
2) Be respectful of the other person’s current situation
Write and say “Hello! Remember me?” Begin a dialogue BEFORE you blurt out the fact that you had a huge crush on him/her in high school and haven’t ever forgotten them. If they are indeed involved with someone else, just let them know you wanted to say “hi,” and keep your crush to yourself. Let them take the lead on whether they want to meet again. Regardless of whether they are “happily” or “unhappily” married, for the sake of all involved, be respectful of the fact that they are married.
3) If you or your old friend is married, involve the spouse/s in the new friendship
Keep in mind that if you haven’t seen someone for five, ten, or thirty years, while they may be an old friend, it will be a new friendship. If you or your old flame is married or involved, and if you decide to meet each other again, involve your spouse(s) or sweethearts. If your intentions are not pure enough for you to become friends with their spouse, your intentions are not pure enough to rekindle the friendship.
4) To get reacquainted, ask—and answer—questions
Not sure what to say? Questions are a great way to spark up a conversation and to get reacquainted. A gentle way of starting is to share some of your own story first and then ask a question. Sharing a little about yourself will open the doors and make the interaction more of a conversation than an interview. Say, for instance, “I’m a computer analyst. What about you?” rather than “What do you do for a living?”
Remember, people change over the course of time. Don’t make assumptions that they are still the same person you knew. Behave as if you are meeting a familiar stranger. Let your natural curiosity serve you. Want some help? My book Intellectual Foreplay: Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-Be has hundreds of appropriate questions for getting reacquainted with an old friend.
5) Don’t take “rejection” personally
When contacting someone out of the blue, you never know what's going on in his or her life at that time. Don’t take it personally if they aren’t interested in getting reacquainted. There are multitudes of reasons that have nothing to do with you that may cause someone to not write back or to be uninterested in rekindling a friendship or romance. Not the least of which is mail lost in cyberspace. Be assertive, not pushy. Simply make the invitation and see what happens.
6) Move into the present rapidly
When talking with someone from the past, it is easy to get caught up in reliving the past. Once you’ve reminisced about the days of old, move rapidly into the present to build a current friendship or relationship. Make this opportunity a wonderful process of discovery based in the here and now.