Long distance friendships is a topic near and dear to my heart as I have relocated two times in my life: once from Boston to Seattle and again from Seattle, U.S.A. to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. By far the most difficult part of moving for me was being faraway from my friends and the challenges were (are):
- No more easy phone calling.
- No longer seeing friends regularly
- No more spontaneous plans.
- Figuring out the long-distance phone thing with time-zone differences and calling across borders!
Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Making a residential move to a new city (and country) was a big shift. My friends and I all had to adjust to the change. I am incredibly grateful to those friends who have put up with my bumbling around as I figured out how to stay connected and how to visit with everyone when in town.
Here are some of the things I have learned along the way:
- Maintaining friendships from afar is challenging at times and there are many things that influence how we maintain friendships at a distance,
- How rewarding long-time, long-distance friendships can be,
- The positive impact of a friend’s phone calls, even if they could not get through and had to leave a message. I love hearing messages from friends,
- Writing letters is not a completely lost art,
- Social media is just one-way to stay in touch (though I personally would not totally depend on it!),
- The importance of contacting a friend if that person pops into your mind!
- And, friendships will shift and change with distance and, sadly, some will end.
It is so easy to get busy and to lose touch with friends. Even if we do lose touch, we can still keep each other in our thoughts, minds and hearts. And we can reach out even if it has been a long, long time since our last conversation. This, I find, is sometimes difficult for people. Perhaps guilt creeps in about not keeping in touch and keeps us in the cycle of not staying in touch, or else unspoken feelings build up with no place to go and the friendship fades away. We do have a choice in these moments: to connect or not.
Catching up with friends at a distance can take on many forms. Some of the learning in adjusting to being far apart is around how friends want to stay in touch:
- Some friends want to talk by phone, others via email,
- Some primarily use Facebook or other forms of social media,
- Some prefer to use Skype or Facetime.
- Others want to write cards and letters.
The key for me has been to get comfortable with what works in each friendship. What I have found is that once I begin to make new friends in the new location, the challenge increases to build these new friendships while maintaining and continuing to deepen the older ones.
I have certainly felt as though I let the ball drop more than once and this is where forgiveness, understanding and have been helpful and important. For me, it is also about trust. Trust includes trusting that our bond is strong and can withstand the distance, and trusting that we can communicate how we are feeling and work through the bumps along the way.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Questions to ponder:
- What happened to your friendships when you or your friend moved away?
- How do (did) you deal with distance in your friendships?
- What strategies have you found helpful?
- What can help you deepen or build your long-distance friendships now?