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In Forge. More on Medium.

📱 Today’s tip: Send a quick check-in text to a friend you miss.

In general, the pandemic has not been great for friendships. Allie Volpe writes in Forge, “when we fail to see and even keep in touch with our connections, they can fray.” But, Volpe suggests, “instead of mourning relationships I’m not even sure I’ve lost, I’ll do little things to remind myself of the opposite, like send a quick check-in text. Even if I don’t get a reply at first, inevitably, it does come.”

Text someone you’ve been missing, and think of the text exchange as a place…

Three conversations that have nothing to do with the pandemic

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In a way, the pandemic has made small talk easy, even for those of us who struggle with conversations about pets or the weather. These days there’s always an ice breaker close at hand, whether that’s new travel rules, predictions about the next phase of pandemic life, or where you are in terms of being vaccinated. (“Oh, you’re a Pfizer?)

We need these conversations. They help us manage our anxiety, and stitch together reality from our still fairly isolated realms. But at this point? Pandemic talk is just. So. Boring. And reminds us that we’re still in a pandemic, even…

Our circles have shrunk but not permanently

Photo: Anthony Tran/Unsplash

There hasn’t been a single friend who I didn’t think was mad at me at some point over the last year.

I’m not usually like this. Typically, an unreturned text or an ignored Instagram DM would spark mild annoyance. Maybe a little bit of hurt. But not this level of profound paranoia — reply or no reply, I knew I’d still see the person again. In the time of our great social distancing experiment, though, I’ve interpreted any silence to mean the end of our friendship once and for all.

Of course, this wasn’t the case. But given the option…

We confide in strangers more often than we realize

Photo: ridvan_celik/Getty Images

Over the past 13 months, “How are you?” has felt more and more like a ridiculous question — and yet I’ve asked it more times than I can count, to virtually everyone I’ve seen. It’s a socially conditioned reflex; even when we know the answer is “Not well, bitch,” we can’t help but ask.

And just as deeply ingrained is the meaningless reply: “Fine” or “Okay, given the circumstances” or “Hanging in there!” I have said some form of this answer while decidedly not hanging in there. I’ve heard it from people I knew for a fact were not fine.

How to get back into the world even if you’re feeling anxious

Photo: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

If you’ve been vaccinated for Covid-19, you may have noticed that your pandemic anxiety isn’t going anywhere. A crowded grocery store, or even a hug from another vaccinated friend, can feel like too much too fast.

Some of this anxiety may be about the disease itself, but often it has to do with new relationship challenges. As many people step back into their social life, they’ll inevitably encounter conflict with others: Maybe you have friends who are not ready to hang out in person yet. Your spouse isn’t thrilled that you’re spending less time with them. …

🌱 Today’s tip: Send a plant to a friend.

Here’s something we never thought we’d have to learn: Pandemics can be hard on friendships. We want to support each other, but it’s hard to take a down-in-the-dumps friend out for a drink, and you might lack the bandwidth to listen to another rant from your BFF about their inconsiderate partner.

So here’s an easy way to let a loved one know you’re thinking about them: As the writer Jenna Kadlec tweeted recently, “SEND YOUR FRIENDS FLOWERS.” You don’t need an occasion, and in fact, it’s sometimes even better if there…

Today’s tip: Start small. Schedule a coffee date.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, it seems likely that life will soon be feeling a bit more normal. And while this is exciting, you’d be forgiven for worrying that your social skills might be a tad rusty. So if you’re worried that you’ll find yourself totally misunderstanding rules of personal space, or lapsing mid-conversation into the voice you use to impersonate your dog, maybe it’s best to take baby steps back into human interaction.

As Ashley Abramson wrote for Forge (when we were optimistically anticipating the pandemic’s wane, uh…

🔥 Today’s tip: Ask someone about their favorite low-stakes hot take.

Recently there was a flurry of conversation among Medium’s staff about, of all things, Grape Nuts, the world’s most boring cereal. Turns out people feel very strongly about it.

“I eat it dry sometimes,” said one of our colleagues, who shall go unnamed.

“There is no un-dry way to eat it,” replied another.

“It’s so good when it gets cement-y,” someone else shared.

The discussion was revealing — and a much-needed break from the seriousness of daily work life. It turns out trading spicy opinions about something inconsequential is…

💛 Today’s tip: DM your Twitter friend-crush.

Remember going to a crowded bar on a Tuesday night to play Simpsons trivia with your former coworker, her partner, his coworker, and some guy in a Bart sweater? If this scenario fills you with longing, you may be in need of some casual friendship. The fix: reach out to an online friend-crush.

As Kelli Maria Korducki writes in Forge, after a year of social distancing, most of us are “open in a way we weren’t before” to potential friendships and acquaintances. That means we’re less guarded in our willingness to let others…

You’re not the only person who’s eager to reconnect

Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Early last year, I went on a first friend-date with a woman who lived in my neighborhood. We’d determined a mutual affinity for rude jokes on Twitter, and decided to take our potential friendship to the next level. It was a little awkward, as all first dates tend to be, but we had a rapport. We made loose plans to hang out again soon, and it seemed plausible that we’d follow through on them — though truthfully, it was just as likely that we’d let things fizzle out, the way so many budding potential friendships do.

At any rate, you…

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