Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Irene S Levine Ph.D.

The Friendship Doctor

Finding a long lost friend: Let me count the ways

Rediscovering an old friend can truly be a treasure

Posted Mar 26, 2010

One way to replenish your stock of friends is to dig deep into your past. Rediscovering a friend with whom you have a shared history can truly be a treasure. Imagine reconnecting with someone who is familiar with the neighborhood where you grew up, your parents and/or siblings, or your old elementary school teachers. Or perhaps, it is a person with whom you shared some firsts: sharing a bunk the first time you went to sleepaway camp, a locker in high school, or the friend you made at your first job.

Be forewarned: What happens next after you say hello, isn't always predictable. Sometimes, old friends are able to laugh together and pick up right where they left off. Other times, it feels awkward and there isn't much to say after you've exchanged a few pleasantries and memories; you wonder if it is really the same person you knew. Yet, if you keep your expectations in check, the odds are that just succeeding at making the connection, even if turns out to be fleeting, will be well worth the effort.

After we found each other online, at one of my book-signing events in Maryland, I was left breathless when I saw my best friend from my old neighborhood in New York show up to meet me. She has a terrific memory and jogged my brain circuits with stories from our childhood that I had long forgotten (or perhaps repressed). Some time ago, I posted on my blog about how finding a long lost friend was akin to Finding Buried Treasure. Then yesterday morning, I saw a wonderful article in the New York Times Personal Tech section, by Eric Taub, that added a few new tricks.

So here's my new and improved list on how to find a long lost friend:

  • Try finding the person using Google by putting her first name and last name in quotes. See what comes up. If you know the city and/or state where she lives or last lived, you can refine the search by putting that after her name in quotes.
  • Similarly, you can try Pipl.com. This is a meta-search engine that finds people using numerous public databases.
  • Search for former classmates on sites like Reunion.com or Classmates.com---or email or phone the alumni office of your school.
  • Let your fingers do the walking---use the white pages directory on switchboard.com.
  • No luck finding her in a directory? Are her parents or other relatives findable? Chances are they may still live in the same town she did. Try finding their phone numbers or email addresses.
  • If you don't know any relatives, you could try the friend-of-a-friend route. Do you know someone who knew her that you are still in touch with and who may be easier to find?
  • Any clue to the kind of work she is doing? Perhaps, you can find her through LinkedIn, a professional association, or the human resources office of her former place of employment.
  • Jigsaw.com is a database with 20 million business contacts, including addresses, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You can either subscribe or pay a $5 charge to find contact information for one individual.
  • In my prior post, I mentioned that finding old female friends is far more challenging than finding males ones because of changes in surnames. Taub offered a clever suggestion of searching major newspapers for wedding announcements that may offer clues to your girlfriend's new married name.

Finally, even better than digging: If you develop a blog, personal website, or other web presence, your old friends may come out of the woodwork looking for you.

 

Have you had any interesting experiences involving finding a long lost friend? Please share your stories!

 

 

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