Thanks to the Internet and social media, finding and connecting with old friends and relatives has never been easier. Even if you can’t find someone’s Facebook profile, genealogy websites like Ancestry.com and people search tools like BeenVerified are used across the country as a good first step in helping reconnect families, old friends, and long-lost loves every single day.
However, finding someone you’ve lost touch with is only half the battle. If you want to reconnect, you’ll have to start a conversation. What do you say when you reach out to someone you haven’t spoken with in years?
There are tons of great reasons to get in touch with someone from your past, and the experience can be fun, joyful, and enlightening. With some friends and family, you can reach out with a simple Facebook message and pick up where you left off years ago.
For others, reconnecting – or, in cases of adoption, reaching out for the first time – can be deeply emotional, sensitive, or even awkward. If you’re having trouble reaching out to someone you’ve lost touch with, use these tips to start the conversation:
1. Explain How You Found Them And Verify Your Identity
No matter which platform you used to find your friend or family member, letting them know your search process can establish trust and break the ice. Make sure they know it’s you and not someone pretending to be you to try to scam or catfish them. You can do this by sharing a memory that only you would know — a funny moment from your high school homecoming or the gifts you exchanged many Christmases ago, for example.
If it’s a relative you’ve never spoken with, tell them how you got their name and tracked them down. You may want to share the name of anyone they might know who helped you in your search.
2. Be Clear About Your Intentions
So many people only reach out to their past connections when they need a favor, and you don’t want your friend or relative to feel like you’re using them. Tell them why you’ve chosen to reach out – and make it about them.
If it’s an old friend, relative, or ex, share what you miss about them and why you want them back in your life. If you need to resolve some hard feelings, be honest without assigning blame or name calling. Explain why you are hurt (or how you hurt them) and how the situation has affected you over the years.
If you’re reaching out to a birth relative or child post-adoption, let them know how important it is to be connected to your biological family. Maybe you want to be informed about your family’s health history so you can prepare for your own future, or perhaps you simply want to want to learn more about your ancestors and where they’re from.
3. Tell Them How You Want To Communicate Or Meet In The Future
Meeting an old friend for coffee can feel natural, but there may be instances in which you should refrain from meeting in person until you’ve re-established your relationship. This can be especially true with an old flame or a relative who’s had a falling out with your family.
Set boundaries so the person you’ve contacted know what to expect and how you’d like to stay in touch with them, whether that’s over email, text, Facebook, or even a video call.
Of course, not every story of reconnection is a happy one. Some people don’t want to hear from individuals from their past. The person you contact may respond negatively or ignore you altogether. If they don’t want to have a relationship with you, you need to respect their wishes.
However, it’s certainly worth it to try. Reconnecting and maintaining relationships with people you love is healthy and important. If you’re having trouble finding the person you want to reconnect with on social media, you can try using BeenVerified to find their contact information.
Do some research and try to understand who this person is, or who they’ve become since you lost touch. Then, reach out and follow the above tips to get a conversation started. You’ll be glad you did.