Long time, no post. I've been without internet at home for THREE weeks now. Awful. I'm writing this post on my tablet from a Starbucks cafe. Desperate measures... ;-)
So. 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 ourselves or a friend moved away.
Upon biding one another farewell, promises are made. We'll email every week, Skype, visit each other, stays I'm close touch. A small subset of us make 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), isn't close enough. Naturally distance adds challenge to any relationship, so if its not a truly solid one to begin with, distance will add....well, distance.
But for the relationships that are important to you. The ones you truly want to maintain, hopefully for years to come. The rare ones you know are worth the effort. Here are some thoughts I've come up with on how to do just that:
1. Stay in touch frequently via a variety of methods. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, email, Gchat. There are SO many ways to remain connected and up to date on one anothers 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 laspse between really connecting either via phone, Skype or a visit. This is how distance can begin to creep in. Texting alone is not enough. Merely one tool among many.
2. This may be the most important one. This one can be really 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. Many people struggle with this in general. Truly opening up to others and revealing themselves. Out of fear of vulnerability... Rejection...etc. But its the building block to genuine, real connection with others. I can tell you, assuming you choose the right people to open up to but when you do and upon doing so, realize you are absolutely still loved and accepted by those people, its an immensely moving and life changing thing.
This is especially important for maintaining deep connections over a distance.
If you keep things purely surfacey and don't open up, closeness will receed and the connection will become distant and more superficial. This might be the #1 most important key for staying close to those you wish to be close with who are far away. (Though of course, its also how to be close with those close by whom you wish to be close to as well ;-)). (Good listening is the other key to real closeness. Its 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 each others 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 recent feelings of their life but also their experiences, the main people they spend time with, and their day to day life.
Of course, being at a distance, there will be many details about your far-away friends life it'll 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. 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. This is as important as #2 on the list. 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 is, 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... ;-) friendships too require some upkeep, maintanence 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.
For me (and I know for many, many others), friendship is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, joy inducing and important aspects of their lives. My close friends are one of the most awesome and favorite aspects of my life. They are absolutely without question, worth investing in.