How to reconnect with old friends, as Billie Eilish opens up about friendships

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10: Billie Eilish attends 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar After Party Arrivals at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 10, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Robert Smith/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Billie Eilish says she lost many friends when she became famous and 'couldn't relate to anybody'. (Getty Images)

Friends are some of the most important people in our lives - but like all things, they can come and go. But sometimes, reconnecting with people you used to be friends with can be a very rewarding experience.

American singer Billie Eilish recently spoke about how rekindling old friendships was "the greatest thing that’s happened" to her.

The 22-year-old reflected on how she lost many friends during her journey to stardom, because she "couldn’t relate to anybody" when fame changed her life.

“It was tough. It was really hard,” she told the Miss Me? podcast, hosted by Lily Allen and Miquita Oliver. On her 20th birthday, Eilish realised that, aside from her best friend Zoe, all her other friends were her employees.

But a year ago, she started making the effort to reach out to old friends. "Now, I have so many friends. I have a crew now! I could literally cry about it. It’s been the greatest thing that’s happened to me," the Birds Of A Feather singer said.

"I was like, ‘Guys, I have friends and I just love you guys so much, and it’s been so long since I’ve had friends. I cried… and it’s literally because I actually have friendship now again."

Watch: Billie Eilish 'lost all of her friends' when she found fame

Our friendships change for any number of reasons. It doesn’t always have to be a dramatic fall out or a big fight that changes things - you may simply have been in different stages of life or going in different directions.

But if the idea of rekindling an old friendship is something you are thinking about, it may be difficult to know how to do it.

Georgina Sturmer, counsellor, MBACP, shares her top tips on reopening the door to friendship.

Before you go about reaching out to a former friend, there are some things to consider. As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to bringing an old friend back into your life.

According to Sturmer, old friendships "can offer us enormous sense of value". "If we rekindle an old friendship, we have the opportunity to reignite a sense of shared history and connection.

"That familiarity and shorthand that allows us to relax and be vulnerable with each other. The reminder of our past can help to cement our sense of identity and who we are."

Female friends sitting in cafe with mug of coffee, talking, support, friendship
Seeing an old friend again can bring up lots of memories and emotions. (Getty Images)

On the other hand, however, you may both have changed in the time that has passed since you last spoke, and may no longer be compatible as friends.

"As we move through life, things change. Our likes and dislikes, our priorities, how we spend our time," Sturmer explains.

"So when we rekindle an old friendship, we might find that there is a mismatch in terms of the time we have for each other, or the things that we want to do together."

She adds: "It’s also possible when we look back at old friendships, that we are reviewing them through rose-tinted lenses. And this can mean that when we do rekindle an old friendship, there’s a possibility of being disappointed.

"Of realising that perhaps we no longer have enough in common, or that we have changed beyond recognition. And this means that the friendship might not deliver for us in the way that we might have hoped."

There’s no hard and fast rule to when the time is right to get back in touch with a past friend. Usually, people remember something that trigger the desire to reconnect, Sturmer says.

"Maybe we have stumbled across an old set of photos. Or perhaps they have found their way onto our social media timeline. We might feel curious about what they are up to now, and how their life has been.

"A quick look in a photo album or a quick scroll through their timeline might satisfy that urge. But if we continue to feel a sense of longing to reach out to that person, then it’s a useful signal that we would like them to be in our lives in some way."

Before you reach for the phone though, Sturmer encourages us to reflect on why the friendships came to an end in the first place.

"It is sometimes helpful at this point to reflect on the reasons why our friendship ruptured or drifted. To consider what has changed, and what ruptures - if any - you might be able to heal."

Young male professional using mobile phone at office
It can be as simple as sending a message. (Getty Images)

Wanting to reconnect is one thing, but actually initiating contact with an old friend after a long period of time is another.

If you’re wondering how to start a conversation, Sturmer advises: "You might feel ready to pick up the phone or send a message. If not, you could consider connecting with them via social media as a starting point.

"Then it just depends on what feels natural. Try to keep things building up gradually, rather than attempting to dive back into the previous depths of your friendship.

"If there are any old wounds, consider how you can approach these, and what you might need to explore or discuss in order to feel as if you can move on."

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