Interpersonal (re) relating: Investigating the experience of refriending

Paul Edgerton Stafford, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

This study reveals findings from qualitative research investigating the relational experience of friends reconnecting after a long period of disconnect. Borrowed from the lexicon of social networking terminology, this particular process is conceptualized here as a process of refriending : when two individuals whose interactive behavior and shared lived experiences that once characterized their friendship have reestablished contact and are interacting after an extended period of communication dormancy. A content analysis of 15 participant interviews about their refriending experiences resulted in a typology of 12 thematic categories related to identity, disclosure, motivation, and communication competence. Aspects of relational continuity as well as the dialectical/dialogic implications of refriending are also explored.