A number of our followers recently sent in messages concerned about the effect our strange new way of socialising was having on their friendships. When Jessie discussed it on our stories many readers responded to say that they too were finding conversations stilted or meet ups awkward and were looking for tips on how to reconnect with friends after months of being apart.
Like many other aspects of our lives after lockdown, it is completely natural for things to feel unnatural so try not to panic. However, if you are experiencing something similar, then these tips might help you to feel more confident in your small gatherings. Here’s how to reconnect with friends while keeping a distance…
Steer conversations away from Covid-19
Previously our conversations (particularly those we had with older relatives) frequently involved a debate about the weather. Our new guaranteed theme of conversation is naturally the global pandemic. However, there is no doubt that this can be an utterly miserable topic. Our lives might be centering around COVID-19 more than any of us would choose but this does not require our conversations to do the same. Never be afraid to progress the conversation onto something lighter and less sombre. Chances are that your friends will appreciate this cheerful change in trajectory too!
Incorporating an activity into your meet up will offer another focus. Being required to distribute part of your attention to something else will often help the conversation flow easier. This is a great way to minimise those awkward pauses. This can have a particularly palpable impact when meeting up after a long period of time has elapsed. A trip to a local outdoor attraction may help alleviate the pressure of maintaining a conversation. Even something as deceptively simple as including a walk could make a difference.
Never be afraid to change the subject
There might be conversations that you feel are off limits for open discussions now. Lockdown has definitely changed us all and things may have occurred in your life that you do not feel comfortable discussing currently. Never feel that you cannot stop and move the conversation away from a topic that is off limits to you. This can be achieved by subtly steering the conversation in another direction.
If that doesn’t work, always remember that it is completely reasonable to tell your friends that you want to change the theme of the chat. You do not owe them a justification for this either. Simply admitting that you aren’t comfortable with the current topic is more than enough.
Prepare a few conversation starters
This may sound artificial and ridiculous on paper, but it might also be a huge help. Prior to lockdown you may have found your chats flowed without pause or issue. It is understandable if the same ease is not always present now. To help eliminate these awkward moments consider having a couple of conversation starters ready to throw into a lull in the chat. The weather is always a trusty topic – even if introducing it does make us feel like our parents!
Know that his does not reflect your friendship
It is really important to recognise that it is not a negative reflection on your friendship if you are finding it tougher to socialise together. This is an indication of our insane situation instead of any form of accurate representation of your ability to carry a conversation. Choosing to stick to slightly shorter meet ups at first or incorporating an activity will likely help to ease the awkwardness – just remember to keep your social distance at all times. But do not panic if things don’t return to normal straight away.
Give it time
Give yourself a chance! Stilted socialising can be tough – particularly if it is a completely new element of your close friendship. Thankfully, most of the time it is only a temporary intruder. As time passes and you get reacquainted with both your friends and our new way of life, it is likely that these misgivings will fade.
However, if in time your feeling of discomfort has not eased then perhaps consider that you have outgrown the friendship. Combine the changes 2020 has incurred in us all with the natural cycle of maturing friendships and it is inevitable that some things will be different.
Whatever the outcome give yourself and your friends time to work through any difficulties before making any final decisions. And of course, feel free to send in your questions, rants or advice over on our Instagram!
Has lockdown changed how you socialise? Have you any tips on how to reconnect with friends?