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Why you should be looking for an old friend, according to science

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Reconnecting with an old friend you’ve lost touch with may seem like a challenge, but a recent study says it might be worth the effort. According to new research Published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association in Personality and Social PsychologyScience really says you should. You might think it might bother them or there wouldn’t be much benefit to either of you other than a quick chat, but the results of 13 tests with more than 5,900 participants say otherwise.

What science can tell us about reconnecting with old friends

The researchers who conducted these experiments wanted to test whether people accurately predicted how much their social contacts wanted to be heard. As it turns out, whether participants were college age or older, and whether that communication involved sending a simple note or a small gift like coffee, everyone significantly underestimated the value of people they once knew to communicate.

“Our results suggest that they are related to how small the reach factor in surprise feels to those who are contacted,” two of the authors wrote in a subsequent message. Published in conversation. “When we asked the recipients what they focused on when indicating how much they felt appreciated, they reported that they paid more attention to their positive feelings of surprise, which correlates with how much they feel appreciated.”

The key here, then, is the element of surprise. There are so many things that can get in the way of our relationships, from work commitments to childcare and pursuing personal hobbies, and these things take up a lot of our minds, not to mention our time. If you and your boyfriend break up, these time-filled things will likely confuse one of you — or more likely, both of you. The other person probably won’t be sitting around all day because of your bad friendship, as it’s possible that they might already be exhausted from what they’re doing, so connecting with you will be a pleasant surprise.

The best way to connect with an old friend

The researchers conducted experiments with people of different ages sending notes or small gifts to people they hadn’t spoken to in a while. Consider the relationship between you and the person you are considering. If you’re used to working together and tend to eat breakfast in the break room every day, you can send a coffee or a Starbucks gift card to add some privacy and nostalgia to the gesture. If you think the gift does not suit you, you can also use a text message, email or call.

You don’t have to worry too much about the details or jump in to throw your date. Start small, say a simple greeting, and ask how they are. Include a unique reference to your shared past or explain what motivates you to connect. It is clear from the research that no matter how you say things, simply showing that you are thinking of the other person is enough to make them feel appreciated.

Unless you’ve misjudged your relationship, your old friend will be happy to hear from you (again, according to science!). And if the fear of rejection is what’s keeping you from sending that email, the research should also give you some solace: It shows there’s an excellent chance your friend wants to know that others are thinking of them favorably. Not?

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