Maintaining connections

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Maintaining connections

Post by Hirundo Bos on Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:28 pm

Over the last year or so, I've met a number of people that I have established some sort of connection with, but I've been having problems with maintaining those connections. I think there are many reasons for that, among others that I still don't have a lot of techniques for making arrangements, that I'm avoiding the effort of making mental space for meeting people, that I don't have a good sense of time, so sometimes the time before I make contact will stretch out into weeks and months, and that I don't know how to reconnect with someone after that has happened.

And probably other reasons that I will think of as they occur.

As you people have been very helpful before with scripts and techniques for specific social situations, I thought I'd try to create a thread specifically for this.

The questions I'll start out with are:
1) There are a number of people now that I haven't contacted for so long, it would feel weird for me to suddenly turn up now. Is there any truth to that feeling, and if so, how much time is too long to just turn up and say hi?

And what can I say to acknowledge that, when I do try to reconnect? (Knowing that it may not be a one-time occurance, so I can't promise that it won't happen again.)

2) More specifically, there's this one person I know that's been having some health issues, so we have agreed that that I'll be the one to get in touch, and that we'll primarily go for same day arrangements... but this has turned out to be difficult for me, and time has stretched out into weeks and months. Are there things I should say and do if I do manage to get back in touch?

3) Do someone have some techniques to make the mental space for same day arrangements, when that's something you don't have as a habit?

4) An alternative when I don't have the mental space to get together could be to contact people just to say hi (on facebook for example), but I don't have a lot of experience with that either. What do people say when they're just saying hi... what do they talk about? How do they come up with subjects? How frequently do they just say hi? Ehm... this question is maybe not so specific after all, I'm not even really sure what I'm asking about.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Werel on Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:57 pm

Two of your questions seem related:
1) There are a number of people now that I haven't contacted for so long, it would feel weird for me to suddenly turn up now. Is there any truth to that feeling, and if so, how much time is too long to just turn up and say hi?
...
4) An alternative when I don't have the mental space to get together could be to contact people just to say hi (on facebook for example), but I don't have a lot of experience with that either. What do people say when they're just saying hi... what do they talk about? How do they come up with subjects? How frequently do they just say hi?
I can only speak to my experience here, but for me, there really isn't a time limit on when friendly contact is still welcome. Unless y'all had some longstanding frequency of communication which you broke, a period of radio silence doesn't need to make it weird when you next get in contact. On the other hand, I think there are different ways of just saying hi, depending on how long it's been since you were in touch. I like messages that acknowledge the time that's passed, but not in a way that brings in anxiety/guilt stuff; e.g. "hey, long time no see, how you been?" is a much nicer message to receive than "oh my god I feel so bad for not calling you!!"

If it's someone you're not super close to, but just want to ping them, asking about a shared interest/experience/etc. is a more common tack than just saying hi; for example, somebody you worked with years ago messaging you to say "Hey, I was just thinking about you and [old job] cause I saw [thing that you both have a shared point of reference for]! Hope you're well."

Tolerance for "just saying hi" is probably pretty culturally varied, though-- I can think of plenty of Americans who love it, and plenty of others who'd find it super weird and pointless. Might also be gendered? Dunno. In general, though, it's hard to misstep with anything that's just a brief, earnest expression of friendly good intent.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Enail on Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:17 pm

Re#1, IME, I tend to feel pretty awkward about contacting people after I've left it "too long," and I know a lot of other people do too, but I've never had it go badly when I've done it, and it's generally been welcome when someone else has re-contacted me. So I'd say go for it! I think there's truth to the fact that it feels weird, in that there's a sort of (often shared) guilt or uncertainty about letting communication lapse because we're both aware that it has lapsed but aren't always sure of the steps to start up the dance again, but that truth of feeling doesn't mean that it's a weird (in the sense of unusual, uncomfortable-making, inappropriate, thoughtless etc.) thing to do.

Re #2, I think it's okay and possibly easiest to just explicitly acknowledge the situation, especially since you've already explicitly discussed how contacting will be done and why, so it's a natural extension to talk about your side of it. Maybe something like "It turns out I have a hard time being the plan-initiator and haven't been able to keep up with you as much as intended, but I'd love to get together sometime [proceed with however plan-making works for you two]"

#3 I have a tough time with too. Something that helps for me are not feeling put on the spot - I can't think fast on the phone, so I land up feeling pressured if someone calls to hang out, whereas by email I feel like I have enough space to actually think about if I'm up for it or not and respond with a little bit of delay (not too much, obviously, same day plans don't wait forever Razz). And also just keeping in mind that saying no is a real option that I can choose.

Werel's covered 4 better than I could, so I'm skipping it Razz
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Hirundo Bos on Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:02 am

Thanks for some good suggestions.

With "hi, long time no see" etc, I think some of my problems is that communicative tasks get mixed up in my head. Acknowledging the delay, asking if they want to meet, then proceeding to make plans are really three different acts, but in my head I feel I have to do them all at once. How do people keep those tasks apart, and how do people navigate between them?

With #4, it's a good point that there are cultural differences. Norwegians are... I believe... rather famous for being rather reserves. And when I think about it, I can get uncomfortable myself with too short messages of "just saying hi". But if not "just saying hi," how do people maintain contact in periods where they don't have practical ways to get together?

And going back to questions #3, to clarify... I'm becoming pretty good at handling it when other people suggest a same-day meeting. It's when I have the intention of suggesting one myself that I have difficulties with finding a day. When the morning arrives, I always feel like another day would maybe be better...

Related is the thing I do where I overthink whether the other person is interested or not. It's the same as when I look at dating profiles... I always imagine a host of reasons why they wouldn't be able to do something right, (or why I wouldn't be a good match), and I'm unable to separate the good reasons from the ones I've just overthought.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by readertorider on Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:56 pm

I tend to see my close friends in person a few times a year with sporadic conversation in between. For me this mostly works--I have family and coworkers and meet-up people for general human contact/society and I like planning the time when I actually see them--but you probably should salt to taste Wink  

Re #1: I like it when people turn up again, but sometimes it is hard to sustain a conversation. It helps me to have a shared joke/history/current location/interest/hobby/holiday which made you think of the person and prompted the recontact. Then they can take the thing at face value (A:"here is a gif of your favorite animal" B:"haha, that's awesome") or extend the conversation a bit more if they want it to continue. I feel like some relationships can be time/place/location dependent though (my summer camp gang!) and even with all the good will in the world on both sides I can't keep up contact with certain people, so things lapse again.

If you want to schedule a meeting with someone you haven't seen in awhile and who you don't have a habit of scheduling meetups with I'd start by either opening a general conversation and then asking "We haven't seen eachother in awhile--want to fix that?" after a few exchanges, or a very specific "Hey <friend>, you know how we were talked about doing <thing>? Still want to? I have <date> free..."  

For me acknowledging the delay isn't really a task that needs to be accomplished unless I've ignored them contacting me--both of you know you haven't been in contact recently what more is there to say?

Re #4: I think this depends on the people:

  • I'll 'ping' a busy friend with odd facts a couple of times a month
  • My nuclear family will exchange phone calls once a week
  • A guy I dated and I will skype about once a month (usually about books) when we can get schedules to align
  • My former roommate and I will have long text conversations usually about once every 2 weeks and send eachother birthday/holiday presents
  • A childhood friend and I will call each other while walking places a few times/year
  • Another childhood friend and I will text on holidays
  • Several friends will set up Steam games with people across the country
  • My Aunt tends to call my mom when she's bored


Hope this helps some!
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:35 am

Readertorider, yes it helps, though it's taken me some days to answer... which I see, as I'm writing it, is another case of getting back after a silence.

Your answer to #4 has some great examples of different ways to keep in touch.

When it comes to to in-person meetings, I'm thinking I should probably expand my repertoire of things to do... as of now, the only activities I invite people to are coffee-drinking and walks. (This includes my recent small steps into dating.)

I also started thinking about your reply... that I, on the one hand, see my handful of close friends a lot more frequently than a couple of times a year (I have this habit the old forums helped me make where I suggest getting together with one of those friends each week). But on the other hand, for many years and until recently I didn't have a workplace or a meetup I attended regularly or anything like that. And know that I'm at a work training program 2-3 days a week I suddenly have faces I recognize, people I only say hi to or smile and nod at, and that feels like a pretty nice change.

I'd just... not been aware before that this thing was even missing.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Izmuth on Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:38 pm

I personally make up an excuse to talk to people I haven't spoken to.

"Hey I'll be in the neighbourhood then and then anyway, want to hang out"?
"I saw this and this, and it reminded me of [thing we share a memory of], and I realized it has been way to long. Want to hang out again?"

That kind of thing.

Do you like boardgames? I can suggest some nice 2 player games if you wish to expand your repertoire of things to do?
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:25 pm

Board games sounds like a good idea. And a little scary, because new is scary... not that I haven't played board games, but I haven't arranged any... or maybe it's the inviting people home, or visiting someone in their home... how well do I need to know someone to invite them to my home? But aside from that, yeah, board games sounds fun, recommendations would be welcome.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Wondering on Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:39 pm

Ticket to Ride is fun and easy to pick-up for beginners. Smile

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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Werel on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:10 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:how well do I need to know someone to invite them to my home?
That varies a lot from person to person, but for me, if I have socialized with somebody one-on-one in an ongoing way for a couple months, and they seem generally trustworthy (and/or physically smaller than me Razz), I will probably be receptive to an invitation to their house. (NB: certain settings like grad school may have different rules, since everyone is broke and free hangouts at apartments are the default.) Buuuuut inviting people to your house is best done in groups; having a group over for game night will be more comfortable for most folks than being invited over alone.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by sky on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:57 pm

You also don't necessarily need to play board games at somebody's house. On nice days you can take them to a park and play outdoors, and some cafes and coffee shops are good places to bring a game along to play as well.
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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Wondering on Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:53 am

Some coffee shops and cafes may have board games there already, too. Scrabble, backgammon, and checkers are the ones I've seen most often at places like that. Of course, you run the risk other people will already have taken all the games in those places.

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Re: Maintaining connections

Post by Hirundo Bos on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:17 pm

Coffee shops with games is a good suggestion... and inviting groups of people home is something I've been wanting to do, now that I have my own apartment. And a good solution for when my friend count climbs above five... but still feels scary, for some reason. Anyways, thanks for input.
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