If you’ve moved abroad, or even if you’ve simply been away traveling for a long period of time, it can be tough to stay in touch with people back “home”. That’s particularly so during the Covid pandemic, where you might not have been able to visit for well over a year.
Maybe you have regular Zoom calls with your family and most of your old friends are on social media … but there’s someone you’ve lost touch with.
Tracking down an old friend can be difficult. It’s particularly hard when you’re abroad, or when you’ve recently returned from being away. You may feel out of the loop, or you might not have much idea about where to start looking for them.
If you’re currently abroad, you won’t be able to look for your friend in person or visit places where you think they’re likely to be hanging out. But you can still search online.
Finding Your Old Friend
Here are four key questions to ask yourself to help you track down your friend:
- Do You Have Any Mutual Friends?
Perhaps you’ve lost touch with your friend Sam from high school – but you’re still in contact with a bunch of other friends from those days. It’s definitely worth asking them if they have a phone number or email address for Sam.
Even if you don’t think you have any mutual friends, you might be surprised who knows who. Perhaps Sam was a senior when you were a sophomore, but one of your friends had an older brother who knew Sam.
- Might Your Friend Have Changed Their Name?
If you haven’t heard from your friend in some time, they could have changed their name. This most commonly happens when someone gets married – but your friend might also have changed their name for personal reasons. Sometimes, people simply dislike the name they grew up with and want to change it.
If your friend might go by a different name, you could try using their middle name to search for them. You may also find that they’ve included their maiden name on social media. Another option is to look for their other family members by name, e.g. if you knew their sibling or parents.
- Could Your Friend Be in Prison, e.g. in Idaho?
This is a difficult question to ask yourself, but is there a chance your friend could be in jail or prison? If you used to be in touch in the past and you haven’t heard from them in a year, this could potentially explain why.
If you’re concerned your friend may be incarcerated, you can search by state (e.g. in Idaho you can view the Ada jail roster) for their name. This should let you view mugshots. You can find your friend’s inmate number and institution so you can write them.
- Might Your School or College Know How to Contact Them?
Many colleges and high schools publish directories of past students, sharing contact details of their alumni. You might also be able to access information through a fraternity or sorority organization, or any other group that you belonged to.
Even if details are out of date, you still might be able to reach your friend. For instance, you might call a landline number to find that it belongs to the people who bought your friend’s house – who can then give you your friend’s mobile number.
It can take time to track down an old friend. If you’re living abroad, or still traveling, then you may feel that you’ve missed out on opportunities to see them – such as your high school reunion. But using the internet and social media, you might be able to track your friend down fairly easily.
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