Friendship 101: How to Grow Together Instead of Growing Apart
I have friendships that have lasted throughout the years and for many milestones. A friend from first grade (18 years ago!) just got married and I had the privilege of being her maid of honor. I have a dear friend from the eighth grade who lives nearby and we get dinner once every other week. I have friends from the first day of college and friends from senior year.
Truthfully, it hasn’t been easy to maintain all of my friendships, and I have lost touch with people I once felt such a strong connection with. Certain friends who I thought would be in my life until my dying day have quietly slipped away, and others I have had to make the conscious choice to part ways with. I have come to accept that some people enter into your life at a certain point in time and are meant to be in it for only so long. We learn from every person who enters our life, no matter how long they stay.
When I found myself growing apart from friends who I did still want and need in my life, I took a step back and looked at our friendship. I tried to figure out why we weren’t communicating as much and why I felt an emotional distance from them. A big answer was physical distance. For many, transitioning from living with your closest friends in college to living in a new place without a hub of close friends can be disorienting, and lonely. I know after I first graduated and moved to a new town, I felt like I was scrambling to make new friends who “got” me and I spent so much time feeling alone. I missed having my network of friends close by and I felt stressed trying to maintain a relationship through my Facebook feed and cellphone.
To help reconnect with my friends who are now living far away, I learned to be someone who reaches out. Often, I’d wait until someone texted or called me but I soon realized that if I want to talk to someone, I need to make the effort. I’ve also worked on keeping in touch with my friends when something funny happens or when a little moment reminds me of them. That way, we’re not having silence for weeks or months at a time and then a big “catch up” session.
I bought stationary and I’m testing out the old fashioned craft of writing cards and letters (because WHO doesn’t love to get mail?). For those who need face-to-face friend time, I highly recommend using Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. I used to plan “Skype dates” with friends a week or more in advance so I could make sure I had enough time set aside to catch up.
Now, if I’m thinking of a friend or just want to say hi, I’ll try to FaceTime her so I can have an in-real-time connection rather than a meeting planned ahead. Spontaneity is hard for me but helps me feel less disconnected and distant from my faraway friends. It reminds me that my friends are still right here, even if they’re not right next door anymore.
Q: How do you keep in touch with your friends who are far away?