New year, old friends?

By UnityPoint Health on Sunday, December 16, 2018

Consider reaching out to reconnect with an old friend

This blog was written by Kevin Vermeer, President and CEO of Unity Point Health:

Last month, I mentioned Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year, but the week of Christmas and New Year’s is a strong second string. I look forward to the joy and traditions of the season. And like many of you, I make time to reflect on the past 12 months while setting new intentions for the year ahead. Maybe, for you, that includes focusing on your health and wellness, asking for that promotion or rekindling a friendship that fell by the wayside when life got busy. That last one can be especially tricky.

At UnityPoint Health, we believe part of living well means maintaining the well-being of your relationships, too. So we made another visit to Jeffrey Kerber, Ph.D., UnityPoint Health family and marriage counselor, to find out how to reconnect with old friends in the new year.


If you’ve lost a friend along the way and haven’t spoken in a long time, you might be considering reconnecting. If you find yourself in this position, Dr. Kerber says, it’s normal.

“First and foremost, maintaining healthy relationships is a very common dilemma, and many of us fall into the category of letting good ones fall by the wayside,” Dr. Kerber says.

But, before reaching out to reconnect with old friends, it’s a good idea to pause for some self-reflection and consider the context. Think, “why did this happen?”

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“If you are feeling guilty about the loss of a friendship, it’s important to find perspective. Consider why the friendship was dropped. If a relationship fell by the wayside because you had a baby and became too busy to go out to lunch anymore, then you shouldn’t feel guilty. Let’s say someone does feel guilty — I recommend finding the authentic explanation and understanding what happened," Dr. Kerber says. "Considering the context of the relationship might help you recognize that somebody may owe someone an apology. If so, then that’s a critical first step in reconnecting."

Dr. Kerber suggests you reflect on these questions:

  • Why do I want to connect with this person?
  • What’s my intention?
  • What do I expect in return?

“No matter what, be clear and be transparent. That’s part of an authentic connection. Leave as little as possible between the lines for misinterpretation. You want to limit the potential for somebody to be confused by your message,” Dr. Kerber says.

He goes on to explain how to be mindful of your expectations. A positive way to approach an old friend would be, “Hey, if you want to connect that’d be great. Otherwise, I know everyone is busy. I just wanted to say what I’ve said because it’s important to me, and I valued the relationship and the time we used to share together.”

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Whether it’s a letter, email, text or Facebook message, Dr. Kerber says the way you reach out to someone isn’t as important as what your message says.

“Regardless of the shorter format, I’d rather see someone send a text to reconnect in a way that’s clear and mindful than a longer, less straightforward message. You don’t have to plan for months to figure out what to say, but a bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way,” Dr. Kerber says.

Dr. Kerber ends by saying people are all very different, and there is no one recipe for having successful relationships. He suggests you use the tools above to find what works best for you.

You can read Dr. Kerber's full article here.

Wishing you a very happy holiday!

vermeerKevin Vermeer assumed the role President and CEO of UnityPoint Health (formerly Iowa Health System) in January 2016. He's served the organization in a variety of leadership roles since 2000. Vermeer has over two decades of experience managing financial operations for leading health care organizations. Vermeer participates in community organizations, such as the Iowa Business Council and Greater Des Moines Committee. Vermeer also serves on the Healthiest State Initiative Board.