Far away friendships. Maintaining close connections over a distance. Most of us have been placed in this predicament at some point in our lives by now. Whether because we moved or a friend moved away.
Upon biding one another farewell, promises are made. We’ll email every week, Skype, visit each other, and stay in close touch.
A small subset of us makes good on those promises. Yet, a vast majority of us, even with the best of intentions, do not.
Sometimes the friendship or whatever type of connection it is (distant family, cool work buddy) wasn’t emotionally close enough to begin with. Naturally, distance adds challenge to any relationship, so if it’s not already a solid one once the distance is enacted, the distance will add….well, distance.
But, for the relationships that are important to you, the ones you truly want to maintain and hopefully for years to come, and for the rare ones you know are worth the effort, here are some thoughts on how to do just that:
1. Stay in touch frequently via a variety of methods. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, email, G-chat. There are so many ways to remain connected and up to date on one another's lives, experiences, and emotions. All of which are important things to be privy to in those whom you wish to be closest. Utilize these tools to make it happen and stay in close touch. Don’t let too much time lapse between connecting either via phone, Skype, or a flesh-and-blood visit. This is how too much distance can begin to creep in. Texting alone is not enough. It is merely one tool among many.
2. This may be the most important one. This can be tough for some people, but if you want to remain emotionally close to those you consider your best, you must continue the practice of confiding in one another and being open with each other about your latest experiences and especially your innermost feelings. When you do not know the major goings-on and the feelings and life experiences of the people you love most? You drift further apart emotionally.
This is especially important for maintaining deep connections over a distance.
If you keep things purely surfacey and don’t open up, closeness will recede and the connection will become distant and more superficial. So, this might be the most important key for staying close to those you wish to be close to who are far away. (Though of course, it's also how to be close with those who live nearby as well).
Good listening is the other key to real closeness. It's not all talking about yourself and opening up. If you aren’t equally interested in the other person and who they are too, things will be one-sided and thus, never truly deep.
3. This ties #1 and #2 together, but keep each other up to date on the details of one another's lives. Not only big stuff but little details too. If you wish to be close with someone, you should know a fair amount about, not only their significant stuff but also their day to day experiences, the main people they spend time with, and some smaller details of their life too.
Of course, being at a distance, there will be many details about your far-away friend's life that it will be tougher to know and keep up with as a result of being further apart. But try your best to know as many details as you can.
4. Send small tokens to them here and there. A postcard to say I’m thinking of you. A small gift. A card, just because. Remember and acknowledge birthdays. Tell your friend what they mean to you regularly. These seemingly small tokens are not small. They will awash your friends in joy, fill their hearts, and just generally make them feel wonderful. All awesome things for maintaining and even adding to, a friendship.
5. Decide in your heart that the friendship is worthy of maintaining (and thus, worth the effort), and truly believe it will last. Adapting these mindsets will influence your behavior to add towards helping make the friendship be maintained and thus, last.
6. Effort. I know. I can hear some of you sigh a bit when you hear that. Others will comment, “my real friends will remain my friends, regardless.” The truth though is that close relationships don’t remain so with little to zero effort. You make it so.
If you don’t put in some time and effort to maintaining closeness with someone, no matter how much you may care for that person, some of the closeness between you will fade. Like romantic relationships, plants, cars, etc, friendships too require some upkeep, maintenance, and investing in.
And yes, sometimes this will entail sacrifice and inconvenience. But that’s part of the deal. The things in life that are most rewarding often don’t come with zero effort.
Friendship is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, joy-inducing, and important aspects of being alive. Take the time and effort to maintain those far-away friendships that you know are quality ones. You will be thankful for having done so.
Originally published at https://www.travelsandtrdelnik.com.