Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Respectfully Responding to Requests to Reconnect

In the past two years I've reconnected with several people who were very important to me years ago, but with whom I'd lost touch over the years. Some of these reunions happened organically, some I initiated, and some came from the concentrated efforts others.


There was one person (not pictured above), lost to me, who I would occasionally try to reach out to via old and seemingly out-of-date contact information, but to no avail. Finally, however, after two years' of irregular attempts at reaching this person but never receiving a response (or even an indication that they were aware of my efforts to contact them) they wrote me through a third party today, saying:

"The reason I haven't responded to any of your requests is that I don't want to be in contact with you."

Um, OK... I'm not disappointed by this, and in fact am glad to finally know that this person considers our friendship dead because now I can scratch it off the list of things from my past that I thought might still have value now. But what is it with the notion of not balling-up and responding to the initial inquiry two years ago with something concise like, "Sorry, I'm not interested in being part of your life or having you as part of mine. You did have the correct email address for me, now please lose it."

You mean to tell me it took this person - with whom I was incredibly intimate in many ways for many, many years - two years to finally find the courage and respect to express their disinterest in reconnecting with me? Why not just have squelched it from the beginning?

There is a crucial point of note here: I was all over the world, from the jungles of Panama to the mountains of Taiwan to the deserts of the Middle East - and this person was as much a vagabond in many respects. I didn't even know if my occasional attempts to contact them were arriving anywhere. If it was a question of their living in the same neighborhood as me, I would have walked up to their front door, rang the bell, probably had the door slammed in my face (based on what I read today) & then moved on. But I wasn't even aware that my messages were getting through to any station.

So, if you're an adult, and someone from your past is trying to reconnect with you and they don't think they have your current contact information, but in fact do, and you're ignoring their requests because you're not interested, any annoyance that you feel past the point of the first attempted reconnect is your own fault. Because you could simply be honest with the person and say that you weren't interested in rebuilding a friendship. Why string it along and then act like you've been imposed upon, when you had the power the entire time to manage the length or frequency of interaction?

This goes for anyone who knew me from "before" (be that last month or during the last century): if you don't like me or you don't want to be in contact with me, but I've tried to contact you - just say that you don't want to know me! It's simple! But if you did know me and do want to reestablish contact, then you can find me through Facebook. The worst that could happen is I would say, "Sorry, I'm not interested in being part of your life or having you as part of mine. You did have the correct email address for me, now please lose it."

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