To Reconnect or Reinvent? A Guide to Navigating Friendships After Moving Back to Your Hometown

Raise your hand if you also just moved back to your hometown after graduating college. If you’re like me, you probably thought that moving back home would mean that you already had ready-made friends and community. After all, you used to be here all the time, right? How hard could it be to reconnect with old friends and rejoin some of your old groups? 

But after four years away from home, let’s face it – you’ve changed (and so have they). Even if your favorite coffee shop and pizza place are still there, your hometown is probably feeling pretty different, too. I’ve recently found myself asking, when do I choose to put in the effort to reconnect with old friendships, and when do I reinvent other relationships to better fit my new life? 

Related: 4 Benefits of Moving Back Home After College 

Reconnecting with old friends

Once you realize that your hometown – along with the people in it – have moved along without you, it’s easy to feel abandoned, if not completely isolated. In a way I wasn’t before, I suddenly became the odd one out of the group — the one person (at least from my dramatic perspective!) that didn’t stay in the area for college. 

But don’t let the FOMO fool you: while it may seem like everyone has moved on without you, remember that they've changed just as much as you have. Reconnecting means getting to know the person your friends have become, and allowing them to get to know you at the same level. Kristin Paddon, a 2020 graduate who recently moved back to her hometown, says, “It’s easy to feel that old friends want you to be the same as you were before. My advice for others in a similar situation is to first recognize that your old friends have changed as well. Give others the benefit of the doubt, and assume they want to reconnect with you!” 

But just because you both want to reconnect, doesn't mean things aren't, in fact, different. Sometimes, rejoining a friend group can mean getting to know knew people as well. Jealousy and insecurity are understandable gut reactions to the challenges of reconnecting, but don’t allow those feelings to control you. It comes down to this: they've made new friends, yes, but so have you! The question is, is the relationship worth reinventing, or is it better to just let it go?

Letting go of fizzled out friendships

Girl At The Beach Walking With Blanket Anna Thetard / Her Campus

If things just aren't vibing, don’t put pressure on them – or yourself – to be BFFs again. You're not 10 years old anymore, and sometimes people naturally grow apart. 

Just because a relationship has naturally run its course to the end, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful friendship! If they were your ride or die in the toughest part of your life, then they were absolutely a great friend... but that doesn’t mean that the two of you are going to connect on the same level forever. If that person isn’t fulfilling what you're looking for in this season of your life, it might be time to allow your old friends some space. 

That doesn’t mean you have to shut them out of your life forever, but it does mean being open to pursuing new types of relationships, or working together to reshape your friendship into something that fits who you are now. 

Reinventing old relationships

Four people holding each other in shades of purple Photo by Vonecia Carswell from Unsplash

Sometimes relationships can come to you in unexpected ways. I thought when I moved back that my old high school girlfriends would be my main support group. Although one friend and I happily see one another every so often, that just hasn’t been the case in general. Surprisingly, I ended up reinventing some acquaintance-type former friendships into a full-blown community. 

It started with just one game night that a mutual friend invited me to. Although I’d met everyone there several times in the past, I’d never really clicked with them or spent a significant amount of time together until that night. Thankfully, we all hit it off and I am happy to report I see most of them multiple times a week now (it helps that one of them eventually became my bf!). 

Through this group, I’ve met so many other people that I would never have gotten a chance to talk with if I hadn’t been open to new opportunities. 

So be bold, and put yourself out there! Those friendships will come, but be patient and openminded in the meantime.