At the beginning and end of each chapter of our lives, we find opportunities to see new places, meet new people, learn new things, and create new memories. Often, however, in order to make room for these new experiences, we have to say goodbye to the old ones, that is, except for the friends we have made along the way. Sure, it would be much nicer to stay close to our loved ones all our lives, but moving away doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever, as long as you put in the effort.
Personally, I have quite a bit of experience in this area. Apart from the normal cases of moving, whether by me or my friends, I have relatives and friends who live in Egypt, whom I see every two years or so during the summer. However, this time gap between the two is very long without contacting your loved ones, and even though I have been guilty of losing contact with those I love, I can easily say that I have learned some effective methods for contact regular with them over the years.
1. Giving and receiving
It is the very basis of almost every relationship you will be involved in throughout your life.
Relationships, whatever their type, are about give and take. Now, what is given and what is received will depend on your personality and that of your friends, and the dynamics of your friendship. However, one thing is certain: to have a healthy relationship, it is imperative that you give as much or almost as much as you receive. In other words, maintaining a balance. If your friend is there to comfort you whenever you’re upset, make sure you’re there for them during their difficult times. If you’re always patiently listening to your friend’s ramblings about his favorite TV show, he should also listen when you have to complain about the death of your favorite book character. * And on a more serious note, if either of you accepts the other as they are and understands and forgives the faults of the other, then the other party should express the same feelings.
It’s just as important, if not more so, in a long-distance friendship. Since the vast majority of your correspondence will be through technological means in this case, it is important that you remain consistent in your efforts to maintain this balance. Typically, a lack of effort is what causes these relationships to fall apart. Each side needs to show the other that they care – and that doesn’t have to mean saying it out loud. This could mean responding to your friend’s texts as quickly as possible, being the one to initiate contact after your friend has done so, or remembering important events and dates, such as each other’s birthdays. Figure out what you need from each other in the context of these new circumstances you find yourself in and act accordingly.
*However, it can be important to be willing to forgive and accept certain faults and actions on your friend’s part, it is also even more important that each of you keep your boundaries and know where to draw the line. Not doing so, or having a friend who breaks those boundaries and does what they want while expecting you to forgive, is a sign of a toxic relationship.
2. Use social media
We all know that social media is a double-edged sword. It has many positives and just as many negatives. However, the kind of impact social media has on you and your life always depends on how and how you use it.
It can do wonders for long distance friendships. In fact, social media is the number of long distance friendships that are formed in the first place. It’s an easy way to keep up to date with what your long distance friend is doing and to interact with them. Obviously, just following your friend on Instagram and liking their posts doesn’t mean staying in touch. You need to interact and converse with them properly, just like you would in real life.
If their Instagram story causes some sort of reaction in you, tell them. I do it with a fair amount of my friends and acquaintances. If they post a song I like, I send them a reply saying so and start a conversation about music. When they share a meme that I found funny, I comment on it. If I find a message that amuses me, I send it to people I know have the same sense of humor. This, like the previous step, involves showing them that you really care about them and the things they have to say, which will be a common theme for many items on this list.
3. Connect on common interests
Every friendship involves at least some common ground between the two parties – otherwise it would have been nearly impossible to become friends in the first place. Use it to your advantage. I already gave a few examples of this in the previous step, like music and humor, but you can step it up a notch by making it a regular, scheduled thing. For example, you and your friends could create a virtual book club, where you read the same book at the same time and discuss it afterwards. This could be done through a group chat or a Facebook group. Another productive option could be to study and do homework together over a video call. If you are studying the same things, it might come in handy as you can help each other with difficult tasks. Even if you don’t, just being in their company can make your studies more enjoyable, although it may not be so beneficial if you and your friend are the easily wandering types. If you’re both writers, you can try co-writing something together on a shared doc or story-sharing website like Wattpad, whether it’s fanfiction or a play. completely original.
Another idea might be to schedule a movie night every month or so. Although I haven’t tried any, there are Chrome apps and extensions like Netflix Party that sync video playback so you and your friends can watch the same movie/TV show remotely, with group chat/video call options for reactions and comments . The possibilities are limitless.
4. Send letters/postcards
While this option isn’t for everyone, it’s nice to step away from our phones and use more antiquated methods to change from the quick and instantaneous nature of our tech-influenced lives. Buy some cute stationery and delve into the communication methods of the past, sending letters periodically. You can include small tokens, gifts, keepsakes, or Polaroids for your friend to keep. For their birthday, instead of sending birthday wishes via SMS, you can also consider sending them a birthday card and a wrapped gift via regular mail.
5. Keep each other informed
Whether you do it by letter, phone, or social media, let your friend know what’s going on in your life, big or small, and encourage them to do the same. Send photos of your work in progress. Tell each other about your goals and accomplishments, and encourage each other. Seek advice in areas and situations that may not be your expertise. For example, I was recently looking for a good DSLR camera for a beginner, and part of my search was taking the time to check with a few people I know who are knowledgeable about cameras and to ask them for their opinion. .
You also don’t have to tell your friend directly. If you’re both up for it, one option might be to create a shared Google Doc or even a private blog where you and your friends can post journal entries with life updates. Not only does this spice things up a bit, but it also creates a wonderful time capsule of memories for the both of you to watch in the future.
6. Make plans
This is easier said than done, especially if you live in totally different countries. In some circumstances, this may be almost or even completely impossible. However, face-to-face interaction is still much more preferable than other types, so if you can afford to meet or visit each other in real life, then make the most of it. Not everyone has the ability to see their loved ones in front of them and feel their touch.
It’s always hard to be away from the people you care about. But in this resourceful world we live in, you can definitely make up for it as long as you’re willing to have the right mindset and put in the effort.