Why Friends Don’t Keep in Touch (Reasons Why & What to Do)

One of the most common social challenges that people face is the difficulty of keeping in touch with friends. If you’re feeling like you’re the only one who makes an effort to keep up, like your friends have become distant, or your relationships are changing in ways you didn’t expect, this article is for you.

This article covers some of the most common reasons why friends don’t keep in touch and offers some practical ways that you can maintain the relationships that are important to you.

Sections

  1. Reasons why friends don’t keep in touch
  2. What to do when friends don’t keep in touch
  3. Common questions

Reasons why friends don’t keep in touch

There are many reasons why you might find yourself losing touch with an old friend or start to notice that a relationship is fading. While it can be a source of great anxiety and insecurity when it begins to feel like a friendship is one-sided, it doesn’t always mean something went wrong or that your friend is not interested.

On the other hand, sometimes you will find that there is a reason, some of which can be hard to accept. Here are some of the most common reasons why friends don’t keep in touch.

1. They are dealing with social anxiety

In a survey conducted by the SocialSelf team, many respondents shared that their #1 challenge when it comes to keeping in touch with friends is anxiety. Some of the respondents said that they worried they would bother friends by reaching out to chat or that they would face rejection if they tried to initiate plans. Social anxiety is known to cause people to avoid social situations.[1] If you find that certain friends aren’t the best at staying in contact, consider the possibility that they might deal with social anxiety.

2. They’re busier than usual

If you’re wondering if a friend is trying to avoid you, or it seems like they’re making excuses not to meet up, it might simply be that they have a lot going on. Maybe your friend started a new job or school program. Maybe they’ve picked up a new hobby, or they’re making an effort to spend more time with their family.

You might also find that friends are in touch less often if they’ve just gone through a major life transition like getting married or having a child. At certain times in our lives, socializing sometimes takes a back seat to other priorities. When this is the case, there is no reason to take it personally.

3. They’re going through a difficult time

Another reason why a friend might fall out of touch is that they are going through a difficult time. When life gets tough, sometimes our social lives fall by the wayside. If a relative has fallen ill or passed away, your friend might have to focus all their free time and energy on their family. If your friend is experiencing an episode of depression, they might feel too depleted to keep in touch with friends. Sometimes people even avoid socializing when they are embarrassed about something. The point is, you never know what someone might be going through unless you ask!

4. They’re bad at texting (or they don’t like it)

Texting has become one of the most common ways to keep in touch, but some people find it difficult to keep up with the demands of digital communication. The reasons vary. It could be that they are simply forgetful and have a habit of leaving friends “on read.” With mobile phone use being linked to inattention, they might be putting their phone away to manage ADHD symptoms.[2] There are also people who do not like texting because of the potential for miscommunication. Those folks might prefer talking on the phone or texting.

5. They prefer to hang out in person

If you tend to keep in daily contact with friends via text, phone, or email, it might seem that a friend is out of touch if they prefer to talk in person. Some people find that they derive more enjoyment from in-person hangouts than they do from talking on the phone or texting. If you prefer digital communication, then you might find it anxiety-provoking if your friend seems to disappear between in-person visits. However, it’s totally possible that you and your friend have different preferences.

6. They’re in a romantic relationship

Romantic relationships can be exciting. At the beginning, they can be all-consuming. If your friend has recently begun dating someone new, much of their time and emotional bandwidth might be going to their partner.

That said, there is another reason why your recently-partnered friend might not be reaching out. If your friend’s partner is jealous or sees you as a threat, your friend might reduce contact with you for the sake of the relationship.

7. They don’t want to be your friend

While there are a lot of benign reasons why a friend isn’t keeping in touch, there is one reason that might be hard to hear. No one wants to hear that someone wants to end a relationship with them, but sometimes this is the case. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, you might find that they are hanging out with mutual friends but making excuses about being busy when you call them.

If you repeatedly reach out, but your friend makes no effort to respond, they might be trying to avoid you. These are a few signs that your friend wants to disconnect from you, but the only way to know for sure is to ask.

What to do when friends don’t keep in touch

By now, you may have identified some of the reasons why your friends have been out of touch. Now, let’s discuss what to do about it.

1. Decide who you want to reconnect with

Before getting into the “hows” of reconnecting, it’s important to pause and consider which of your friends and acquaintances you want to stay in touch with. For example, if someone you know only reaches out when they need a favor, is that a person you want to prioritize? Are there people you’ve lost touch with who exhibit toxic traits like dishonesty or emotional manipulation? Make a list of each person you’ve lost touch with, and think about how each of them makes you feel. As you consider reconnecting, focus your energy on those who make you feel happy, safe, and cared for.

2. Initiate contact

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that many people struggle with social anxiety. In particular, many people worry that it is annoying to reach out. The truth is, so many of us share this concern that it is unlikely that a text or call will bother the recipient at all. In fact, it will probably be welcome. That said, if you haven’t spoken to your friend in a long time, you might clear up any initial awkwardness by acknowledging it explicitly. You might try saying something like, “Hey, I know it’s been a while, but I was just thinking of you and wondering how you’ve been.”

3. Address problems in your relationship

Sometimes we fall out of touch with friends because life gets in the way; busy schedules, moves to new cities, and even pandemics prevent us from seeing friends. Other times, we drift apart because of rifts and disagreements. If the friendship you’re hoping to rekindle burned out because someone was hurt or disappointed, address it head-on. That might mean offering up an apology, forgiving a wrongdoing, or agreeing to disagree. Whatever it is, make sure to clear the air before moving forward.

Start by reaching out with a friendly phone call or text that both communicates your desire to reconnect and recognizes the rough patch in your relationship. You can say something like, “I’ve missed spending time with you this year. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but I was hoping we could find some time to chat about what happened.” Once you’ve re-established contact, you can have a more in-depth conversation about your challenges.

4. Be specific about plans

One of the best ways to liven up a stagnant relationship is to make plans to meet in person. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to initiate plans. Making vague comments like, “I’d love to see you!” or “let’s have dinner sometime” don’t usually lead to actual face-to-face time.

Instead, choose a time and a place and invite your friend to join you. You can say, “I’m meeting some friends at the park on Sunday at noon. Would you like to join us?” Alternatively, you can begin a conversation about meeting by offering some options. You can say, “are you available this week for dinner? I’m free every evening this week after 6:00.”

5. Follow up

Assuming you’ve enjoyed reconnecting with your friend, make it known to them, and follow up. If you meet in person, send a follow-up text to say that you had a good time. Furthermore, if you receive a message or an invitation from the person you’ve reconnected with, be sure to respond in a timely manner. Staying in touch with friends is an ongoing process and takes effort from each person to maintain.

Common questions

How often should friends keep in touch?

There’s no universal rule. However, if you find that you’re going long stretches without speaking to someone, explore some possible reasons they’ve been out of touch. This might also be a time to consider whether your expectations of the friendship are being met.

Why do friendships end for no reason?

It can be difficult to accept when friendships end, especially if it seems like there wasn’t a distinct problem that ended the friendship. Research has shown three main reasons why friendships end, including selfishness (e.g., lack of mutual support), romantic feelings, and lack of interaction.[3]

How do you know your friend doesn’t care?

Friends show care in many ways. If a friend is not showing they care with words, actions, or time spent with you, these might be signs a friend doesn’t care. Before jumping to conclusions, check in with your friend. It can be hard for people to show they care if they’re going through a hard time.

How do you know a friendship is over?

If you suspect that a friendship is over, the only way to know for sure is to ask. You might consider calling or texting to say something like, “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve connected. Is something wrong in our relationship that I’m not aware of? I’d love to talk if you’re open to it.”

Conclusion

Navigating friendship can be challenging, and keeping in touch can be hard with so many demands on our time and resources. Oftentimes, the reason friends fall out of touch isn’t anything to take personally. And the good news is that there are usually ways to mend and revive a relationship that has flickered out.

Show references +

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages SocialSelf’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.


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