We always hope that our relationships will stand the test of time. Lifelong friendships are highly praised, and rightly so. Knowing that someone will always have your back is definitely a fortifying feeling. Of course, although you’ve built a robust friendship, maintaining that connection takes commitment and effort. Some friendships are easier, requiring less contact – you can simply pick up where you left off, even after not speaking for a long time. Other times, keeping up old friendships can be difficult, especially when starting a new chapter in your life – whether it’s graduating college, starting a new job, or moving to a new city. When your lives start to diverge, you can find that you start to drift apart.
Making Friendships Go the Distance
It can be hard when you and a friend are suddenly divided by miles and miles of space. You go from seeing each other every day, going to parties and movies, to suddenly being limited to time on social media. Long-distance relationships aren’t just for couples in love – they’re also something many friends face, especially once school is over or you get a job in another city. How can you keep up the friendship from afar?
First, take advantage of today’s growing array of technologies. Back in the day, people had to write letters and enjoy the occasional phone call. Now, we can enjoy each other’s presence face-to-face even with multiple time zones in between. We probably don’t have to tell you to stay involved in each other’s social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others are excellent ways to connect. We can see what our friends are doing and experiencing and talk to them at any time of day.
Video chatting makes the long distance more endurable. Using Skype, Facetime, and other video chatting options makes it feel as if you’re in the same room. Of course, there’s still good old-fashioned phone calls and texting, too.
When you talk, try to keep up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. Ask your friend about their job, hobbies, and new friends. Be happy for them when they get a job or go somewhere exciting. Be supportive. If they’re having a hard time adjusting to life in a new city, you may want to send them a care package of fun stuff. It’ll lift their spirits and make them feel less alone.
If you’re able to, you may want to go the extra mile and visit your friend, or they can come visit you. It may be hard to do, especially if they’re far away. It may require a plane ticket and time off work, and sometimes that’s not feasible. But if you can visit with them, even just once a year, try to do it.
When You Have a Busy Schedule
Being in distant parts of the country, or even the world, is a mighty good excuse to start to lose contact, but it’s also easier to conceptualize and overcome. However, you’ll often find that you and your friend can easily visit each other… but neither of you seem to have the time. We all have commitments and obligations that we have to give our time to, so sometimes it feels like there is no time to connect with your old friends. What can you do?
Figuring out when to video call? Shoot your friend a text asking about their schedule. Try to find a time that the two of you can meet up, even if it’s just for a half hour. The date might have to be weeks down the line, but once you two find a suitable time, write it into your calendar – in pen, not pencil. The key to maintaining any relationship is making it a priority.
In between physical visits, keep in contact through all the online and offline communication methods. You can even kick it old school and send handwritten letters! Letting your friend know that you’re thinking about them will go a long way in keep that relationship strong. Keep them updated on your life, and make sure that you take an interest in theirs. Remember, all relationships should be reciprocal!
When to Let Go
Despite all your best efforts, though, there may come a time when you and your friend can’t relate to each other anymore. Your lives are different, your views may have changed, and you just don’t have as much in common as you once did. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s completely normal, but it can be hard to accept.
Focus on the things that are positively changing in your life and know that at times, in order to grow as a person, you have to let go of certain people. Letting go gives both you and your friend a chance to grow separately. And even if you two aren’t talking much anymore, it’s okay to continue to check in every now and again just to see if you can rekindle your friendship. Just make sure you can recognize when to give someone space and when to remove them from your life.
Sometimes friendships can become disjointed or even toxic. All friendships need effort from both parties in order to survive, and you should make sure that your friendship is healthy. If you find that you’re the only one reaching out and changing your schedule to fit them in, that may indicate that the other person isn’t as interested in keeping the relationship alive. It’s natural to want to keep the people you care about in your life, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of your own self-esteem. Feeling like you’re the only one who cares about a relationship can make you doubt yourself and your worth, but remember, you are not defined by another person. Sometimes people change and grow apart. You need to recognize when to let go and move on.
The key lessons are these: Prioritize your friendship, remind your friend that you’re thinking of them, and make sure that the relationship is equal and reciprocal. Research and discuss the best times and ways for the two of you to connect, and it is bound to happen. Not all friendships are meant to last your entire life, but many of them can if you put in the effort!
Alison Rollins is Vice President of Marketing at Petite2Queen. She earned her master’s degree in Global Entertainment & Music Business from Berklee College of Music. An experienced marketer, Alison is an expert leader in social and digital media. She’s a talented videographer, with an extensive portfolio of thought-provoking work. At Petite2Queen, Alison focuses on meeting the diverse needs of women at all stages of their lives.