First, she encourages people to examine their motives: Are you operating from a place of care for your friend, or are you trying to soothe your own discomfort? If you’re truly concerned for your friend, instead of asking how they’re doing, Ms. Kwong recommends inquiring about how you can support them right now. Offer to do something specific, like running an errand for them, ordering food on their behalf or donating to a fund they support. She encourages white people to continue their own anti-racist work both independently and alongside their other white friends.
Accept you might have outgrown this friendship.
Just because a friendship has existed for a long time doesn’t mean it’s capable of providing you with what you need today. Ms. Denworth said we should take this moment to identify our weaker friendships: “The ones that aren’t sustaining you, don’t make you feel good and that are lopsided.” Some behaviors you tolerated before — an unkind or critical friend, for instance — may not work for you now. She recommends shuffling that relationship to the outer rings of your friendship circle.
If there’s been emotional or physical distance
Many people are so focused on their own immediate needs that they don’t have the bandwidth to show up for others. These are the cases in which there hasn’t been hostility between friends, just a noticeable drifting apart.
Be proactive about establishing contact with friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. “You’re not going to randomly bump into your friends at the bar,” Ms. Kwong said. “You’re going to have to make time to meet with friends virtually now.” She said we should schedule our check-ins as if they were a work meeting. Quality is more important than quantity, so if you only have enough energy to reach out to a few cherished friends, that’s fine.
Write a handwritten letter telling your friend how much they mean to you. Voicing your deep appreciation could help strengthen your bond. “It is scary to do though, because they could not reciprocate,” Ms. Shaiq said. “But sometimes we just have to be authentic to ourselves.”
Try not to take a “no” personally.
If someone says they can’t talk to you right now, don’t spiral into negative questions and assumptions. “Whenever anyone says no, it’s basically them taking care of themselves,” Ms. Kwong said. Respect their decision and let them know your door is always open to them.
If there’s been confusion or disappointment
Communication has stalled. You aren’t sure where your friendship stands at the moment. You want closure, but that may not be possible.