A Guide to Long Distance Friendships

I wrote this a while back and it’s been in my drafts ever since. After much thought and consideration, I felt like it was time I hit POST on this:

The blessing of the Internet has provided me with the opportunity to make friends from all around the world. When I was ten, I would jump at the opportunity to have a penpal who lived in a different state. Would I have ever imagined that I’d have some overseas? I don’t think so. Look how much the world has changed since then! When you get close to people you never see or have friends who aren’t within a 50km radius (yes, let’s just use that number), being good friends, being best friends even, is trying. But here’s what I’ve learned in past few years:

1. Use your phone

“With the wonders of technology, communicating to a loved one is only a click away”. That should be an advert. It probably was an advert 10 years ago. Anyway! I have besties I don’t see on a regular basis, I have people I have never met, in person, in my life. You still want to be a part of theirs, so TALK. Text message, using Whatsapp or Snapchat or whatever app comes in handy. Write emails, use Google Hangout. Spam their Tumblr ASK box, or Tweet, if it comes to that. With how rare it is for someone to not have a phone in 2015, it’s almost ridiculous if you can’t say HI once in a while. ALMOST because..

2. Remember that life gets in the way

I mean this in the most logical of senses. I have a good friend in Ireland right now and when she’s very free, Helen and I talk almost every day via recorded messages sent on WhatsApp (yes, so we can ‘talk’ on the phone without actually paying the international call charges). But when she’s back to teaching practice or I’m back in classes, those conversations become rare instances. Sometimes, they don’t coincide, so I can be left feeling like she’s ignoring me (and vice versa!) but that does not mean the person is actually doing that. LIFE gets in the way. (Helen and I constantly apologise profusely when this happens) Sometimes, you really have NO time to listen to messages or you do, and you don’t have the time to actually reply. Or days, even weeks go by and you don’t speak to one another. If you’re on the receiving end of a lot of this, don’t blame the other person. Sure, there will be times when he/she may be pissed at you for some reason and not want to talk, but usually, it’s because they genuinely have no time. So, don’t take offense if you’re sidelined. I find that there will be times when conversation flourishes ridiculously and those help to tide you over during the ‘drought’ seasons.

3. Write physical letters

Or postcards. Or send them something in the mail. I know every person I write to enjoys getting a handwritten card or handmade anything. Heck, if the letter is typed out, but signed with a pen/pencil, I’d appreciate it. I like mail that’s not bills, and I think a lot of people do too. If you have someone you don’t see often, send them something that gets delivered by a person (or a robot, if that’s a thing somewhere on this planet). I think they’ll appreciate it.

4. The 5 minutes (At least!) Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout session

This is something I find to be super useful. As lovely as constant messages may be, it’s always good to SEE a friendly face. One Tuesday ago, I spent 5 hours online, talking to my best friends because our timing never synched up properly and because one was in a completely different country (and time zone). It was so much fun, despite having to figure out how to not talk over each other. I think it’s important to set up a Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout session as regularly as you can, if you can.

5. Don’t quit on the person

Unless you truly don’t want them in your life. I’ll be blunt and say that sometimes, you don’t need certain ‘energies’ in your life and it’s okay when you want to not try as hard because frankly, you don’t want them in your life. I know that comes off as asshole-ish but let’s be honest, there are friendships that fizzle partly because of distance but mostly because it wasn’t built on substance to begin with. When you have friends you truly love, you will fight to keep that person in your life and you know, they’re trying as hard as you.

Make sure you’re keeping the right people in your life, and don’t waste time on people who clearly don’t want you.

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