Making the first move can always be a bit awkward, but sometimes it’s even more difficult to check back in on the friends you’ve lost touch with. What if your bro doesn’t want to grab beers with you anymore, anyway? And what if he says no to seeing the new Downton Abbey movie? That’s a risk for some real rejection.
Fortunately, a new study from the American Psychological Association suggests that just sending a text or calling your buddy to say “hey” can go a long way toward restoring that relationship. In fact, he will probably appreciate it much more than you know.
“There is much research showing that maintaining social connections is good for our mental and physical health,” Peggy Liu, lead author of the study, explained in a press release. “However, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, our research suggests that people significantly underestimate how much others will appreciate being reached out to.”
Across seven different experiments consisting of more than 5,900 participants, Liu and her colleagues demonstrated how much people overlook these simple gestures in their daily lives. During these experiments, they had participants recall past experiences with contacting old friends out of the blue, along with instances where they were contacted by old friends in a similar manner. They found that across the board, people didn’t think that the gesture of reaching out was a big deal, but to the friends on the receiving end, it was highly valuable.
“People receiving the communication placed greater focus than those initiating the communication on the surprise element, and this heightened focus on surprise was associated with higher appreciation,” Liu noted. “We also found that people underestimated others’ appreciation to a greater extent when the communication was more surprising, as opposed to part of a regular communication pattern, or the social ties between the two participants were weak.”
After all the isolation we’ve endured over the past couple of years, it’s understandable why we might be overthinking reconnecting with friends. But again, by and large, they’re going to be very stoked if all you do is hit them up with quick text. “I sometimes pause before reaching out to people from my pre-pandemic social circle for a variety of reasons,” Liu herself admitted. “When that happens, I think about these research findings and remind myself that other people may also want to reach out to me and hesitate for the same reasons. I then tell myself that I would appreciate it so much if they reached out to me and that there is no reason to think they would not similarly appreciate my reaching out to them.”
So, what are you still waiting for? Text your bro. He may even be thinking about texting you, too.