Growing Buds

How I Rebuilt The Friendships That Faded When I Became a Dad

Losing touch doesn’t have to last forever.

Middle aged men laughing and hanging out

It’s not unusual to lose touch with friends when you become a dad. Priorities shift, time seems to somehow slow down and speed up simultaneously, and finding opportunities to connect with people outside of your immediate circle can be challenging. If your friends are close to your age and becoming dads themselves, there’s a decent chance they might also be equally exhausted from navigating the same choppy waters of first-time parenthood. In short, fatherhood is tough on friendships. But, while you may see less of your friends at the start, it doesn’t mean you can’t rekindle those relationships. We spoke to 12 dads who all experienced the fading and rekindling of friendships after becoming parents. They shared stories about the reasons behind losing touch and, more importantly, how they were able to regroup and rebuild their relationships.

1. I Contacted Them One-By-One

“Being a parent is an all-consuming job. I’ve spent the last year learning what it means to be a dad, and have come to appreciate more than ever how much time and energy it takes to raise a child. Regarding my connections with friends, I think they went away slowly. First, it was emailing them instead of calling them on the phone. Then it became texting instead of going out for lunch or coffee. I missed my friends, so I decided to reach out to them one-by-one and make plans with them individually. I began by sending each friend an email that explained how much they meant to me, even though we hadn't talked in awhile or seen each other recently. Then I invited them over for dinner or drinks at my house, so we could catch up on everything that had happened since our last conversation. My goal was to reconnect with each friend in a way that felt real and meaningful, and could last.” - Jason, 37, New York

2. We Grab Lunch Each Month

“I’m the father of five, which has left very little time for my friends. I grew up relatively poor. My parents were always very busy and I quickly attributed that to their need to put food on the table. As my family was growing, I felt the pressure to ensure my kids did not have to experience the feeling of not wanting to ask for new shoes, and stuff like that. This caused me to spend every waking moment providing for my family. My friends never heard from me.

Now that the kids are older, I’ve been able to work at rebuilding my friendships. My yearly goals started including reaching out to each of my best friends for lunch once a month. This was something easy to commit to because it didn't require a whole lot of planning. These lunches have helped us to reconnect. I went on a snowboarding trip with one of my best friends from high school. No wife or kids. It was perfect. I have another out-of-town trip scheduled for October with a friend that I haven't done anything with for more than 20 years. I realized that men just tend to isolate more as they age. My friends — even those who don’t have kids — found themselves in a similar place to me, and were eager to reconnect.” - Danny, 45, Texas

3. We Trained For A Marathon

“I first became a dad some years back, and my world shifted on its axis. Priorities altered, time became an elusive concept, and my friendships took a backseat. A few of my friends were in the same boat — trying to juggle kids, work, aging parents, you name it. It's as if we were all playing our own separate tournaments, too engrossed in our games to glance over at each other's progress. But as time went on and I found my footing in this whirlwind of fatherhood, I began to miss my friends. The laughs, the camaraderie, the shared love of sports. So I came up with a game plan. I'm a golf and fitness instructor, and there's nothing I love more than a challenge. One day, out of the blue, I rallied my buddies over a group text, sharing the developing 'dad bod' dilemma. I proposed a solution – training together for a charity half marathon. What better way to reconnect with friends than through the shared struggle of conquering those miles? Plus, it was for a good cause and an opportunity to check the 'dad bod' issue off the list. Two birds with one stone, right? Our shared experiences and the countless hours spent training served as a catalyst, making our bonds stronger than ever.” - Jamie, 53, Texas

4. We Started To Play Video Games Again

“My friendship with my best friend faded when I became a dad because I simply did not have enough time for friends anymore. Having a family took up all my hours from hanging out or talking with my best friend. As a result I stopped playing video games with him and we didn’t speak for more than five years. I reconnected with him when I called him out of the blue after I’d separated from my girlfriend at the time. I spoke with him over the phone and asked how he’d been. We caught up for more than an hour. Then I invited him to play some video games, like we used to. While playing the game he invited other friends of ours that I had not spoken with since becoming a dad. We wound up having a guys gaming night between all of us and got caught up with each other. It was a fun night and something I truly needed to get my friendships back to where they once were.” - Tim, 31, Tennessee

5. I Threw A Party

“When I became a dad, it was at the peak of my first business's success. While that was exciting, I found myself having to split my time between caring for my baby, caring for my partner, and focusing on work. I didn't have time to spend with my friends. I’m not sure if the friendships ‘went away’, or if my life just started revolving around other things. Honestly, many of my friends are heading in the same direction. They're starting families, getting into serious relationships, or are super busy with their own stuff. So we’ve had to adapt. We love partying and traveling, which can be difficult as a husband and father. But, we were able to figure out a weekend where we had a yacht party together, and everyone was able to reconnect. It wasn’t just the guys, either. We all met each other’s partners and kids, and we talked about how our lives had changed. It felt like rekindling those friendships and, because it went so well, we decided to do it every year.” - Matt, 42, Leeds, United Kingdom

6. I Reached Out On Social Media

“That’s what it’s for, right? Not a lot of my friends who are dads ‘use’ social media. What I mean by that is that they have accounts and profiles, but aren’t really active. So I would see what they were up to sometimes, but never really interacted beyond a like or a quick comment. These were guys I went to college with, and we were such a tight group that eventually the distance started to feel weird. And what I noticed was that, when one of them did post a photo or an update, it looked very familiar. It would be a picture of their family, or their kids, just like the ones I posted. So I decided to reach out more specifically, and started sending them messages along the lines of, ‘Look how similar our lives have become. We should catch up.’ Almost all of them responded immediately, and we gradually got back in touch. I don’t know if we’re the same type of friends we were in college, but I know we have a lot more meaningful things to bond over now, and I’m looking forward to that.” - Aaron, 42, Illinois

7. I Forgave And Forgot

“Part of the reason my best friend and I drifted apart was because of an argument we had a long, long time ago when we both became dads. The argument wasn’t about fatherhood, but there wasn’t much room or time to unpack everything properly given the fact that we were both new dads with new responsibilities. So we just kind of stopped talking. It was almost three years to the day when I was able to reflect and realize that I really missed our friendship. So I called him up, and was prepared to revisit the argument before hopefully putting it behind us. When he answered, it was like we were both so excited to talk to each other that the argument didn’t even matter. We were just psyched to be friends again. We talked for a few hours, and acknowledged the argument just by agreeing that it could be water under the bridge. And we’ve stayed close ever since. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow pride, but I’m glad we were able to realize that our friendship was more important than a stupid argument from years ago.” - Marty, 36, Florida

8. I Sent Out An Availability Survey

"As the demands of fatherhood increased after our second child, it was amazing how quickly time passed. I found myself juggling diaper changes, sleepless nights, family time, and work commitments, all while feeling disconnected from those friends who had once been such an integral part of my life. I started to feel guilty, even though I knew the situation wasn’t anyone’s fault. So I decided to send out a quick survey — more like a leap of faith calendar invite — to gauge everyone’s availability. Most people responded with, ‘What’s this for?’ And I just replied with, ‘TBD. Just miss you guys.’ That seemed to energize everyone, and we were able to figure out a date to get together. We ended up grabbing dinner and drinks, then went to a baseball game. Even though we don’t see each other every weekend, we’ve kept that group text going to stay in touch and support each other. And when we do have those rare free nights in common, they’re all the more special.” - Michael, 44, Colorado

9. I Shared Old Photos

“I don’t think there was a specific moment when my friends and I lost touch. I remember having my first son around the same time some of my other friends had just become dads. And those that weren’t dads all had stuff going on, too, like with work or whatever. It was kind of this perfect storm where we all got individually busy at the same time. I guess that’s not unheard of, but it was kind of a shock when I realized it had been almost a full year since I’d said anything meaningful to any of them. It made me sad, and nostalgic. So I went through all of our old photos and videos from our ‘wilder’ days, and sent out a big shared album titled ‘Remember This?’ It lit up our group chat almost instantly. We were back to sharing stories, laughing, and busting each other’s balls about the photos. Those days are definitely behind us, but it was a great way to reconnect as friends with so many crazy shared experiences.” - Allen, 40, Ohio

10. I Set Up A Playdate With Our Kids

“I have no shame in saying that I used my kids to reconnect with a good friend that I hadn’t talked to in years. I moved out of state, away from our hometown, shortly after landing a new job. Once our family started to grow, I limited my trips back home and my connections with people outside of my immediate family faded. My friend popped up on my Facebook feed one day, and I saw that he had kids that were the same age as ours. This was shortly before the holidays, and I knew we were heading back to visit. So I reached out and asked if he’d be interested in getting together to let the kids play, and to reconnect. He seemed really, really touched, and was so excited about the idea. And it went great. The kids got along, and we got to meet each other’s wives. We’ve kept in touch since, and have standing plans to get together every time I go back to visit. All it took was me leveraging my kids to hang out.” - Josh, 41, North Carolina

11. I Offered to Cook Dinner

“My friends and I drifted apart over COVID, honestly. That was such a weird time to be a parent. It was like every bit of energy got funneled into my kids and family, which I know was true for most people during that time. We just kept things close to home, and hunkered down. It’s hard to believe that’s how things were for almost two years. So when things started getting back to normal, we didn’t really know how to act. During COVID, I kind of took up cooking as a hobby, so I thought I could use that to bring everyone back together. I sent out an evite offering to cook a big dinner for all of us, just as an excuse to get back in the same room with each other. My friends won’t say no to free food, so it wasn’t hard to convince them. And it turned out to be really fun. There was definitely some initial weirdness at first. Sort of like a ‘How did we get here?’ vibe. But once we settled in, it didn’t take long for our friendships to pick up right where we left off.” - John, 42, Indiana

12. I Went To My Class Reunion

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be the guy who went to a class reunion, but it ended up being the perfect opportunity to connect with a lot of friends who I’d lost touch with after we all started having kids. It’s crazy that even though we all still lived nearby, the only times we’d see each other were by chance. Like running into each other at the grocery store or something. I think back to all the fun times we had in school, and I know what good people they all are. So I think I made the decision to go to the reunion just based on the fact that I’d like those kinds of people in my life. And my kids’ lives, too. I wouldn’t say we’re as close or consistent as we were in high school, but we’re all on each other’s radars much, much more now that we’ve had the nudge of the reunion. It was honestly a great way to reconnect.” - Connor, 30, Pennsylvania