I would consider myself a bit of a gypsy – we moved around as kids, my family is spread throughout the Midwest, and over the years, I have accumulated friends spread across the entire county.
And the truth is, I miss them. Dearly.
From loneliness, to longing and anxiety about whether your friendships can weather distance, geographic separation from good friends can really do a number on your psyche, and make getting out and forming new meaningful friendships even more difficult.
With the holidays quickly approaching, I’ve been reflecting a bit on how I keep in touch with old friends and things I have done in the past year and a half that has helped make “surviving” physical separation easier and less emotionally draining.
Therefore, I decided to get all mushy-gushy with you guys, post a bunch of photos of my lovely friends and create a list of ideas for helping you (and me) survive geographic separation from your (my) best friends.
Obviously, I’m not a professional at this and I know I could stand to take my own advice on a few of these… but the important thing is trying, right?
18 Ways to Survive Separation from Friends
1. Preserve your memories as you make them. Take photos, write each other cards (and stash them away in a special box), have a “spot” you go to just the two of you, and take advantage of opportunities to share unique experiences. It makes dealing with physical separation easier in the long run and solidifies a friendship as one worth working for.
2. Realize that a small note or a “just thinking about you” goes a long way.
3. Care more about the people that matter to you – use Facebook for keeping tabs on them, not for the train wrecks from your high school class or the weirdos that you just can’t stop creeping on (though, I know, it is entertaining).
4. Remember that the phone works both ways, but resist the urge to become cynical about it – people are busy and just because they don’t get back to you, doesn’t mean your message didn’t make them smile. Give them time and try not to be pushy – their life is full, too.
5. When you do happen to get together, ask them real questions and listen for their answers. Check in on their family, ask if they’re still working away at becoming a black belt in karate or developing their love for antique card collecting. Go beyond the surface-level and actually connect – don’t waste all of your time bitching about your job or retelling your drinking stories from college (ahem, guilty).
6. Take advantage of technology like text messages, Skype & Facebook, but don’t forget the power of snail mail and an old-school phone call.
7. Reflect on the ways that your friendship with them made you better as a human being. When you’re feeling distant, try to embody those traits.
8. Keep lots of photos handy. Go through them sometimes. Smile. Vow to take more photos of yourself making silly faces and doing crazy things.
9. When making friends, always make them in a one-to-one nature – don’t base your friendship on inclusion of a group – the groups disintegrate as life goes on, but the people you made a one-on-one connection with stay in your life forever.
10. Always remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Trying to find friends that fulfill you in all of the ways your friends from a different party of your life did is impossible. Don’t compare – you were different then than you are now, so the people in your life probably will be too.
11. Be there for the big moments. Three of my friends drove for hours to be there for me when my sister died. I will never, ever forget that. No matter how long I go without seeing or talking with them, I know they’ll always have a special place in my heart. Acknowledging the difficult and sucky parts of life and really being there for someone can make all the difference.
12. When time and money allow, make an effort to visit your friends in faraway places. Not only will you snag free room and board in a city you haven’t fully explored (or maybe you’ve never even visited!), but you’ll get an intimate glimpse into their new life that will undoubtably bring you closer.
13. Pop in a movie that reminds you of a group of people or a special friend when you’re feeling low. I know I’ll probably pop in Pitch Perfect in the future when I’m feeling lonesome for Kristen, Ashley and I’s little roommate relationship we’ve got goin on right now (and you KNOW I’ll be singing along).
14. Send postcards. You’ll get them in return. They’ll totally make your day.
15. Prune the toxic people out of your life. The drama-starter from your high school group of friends? Cut ties. The person that always made you feel kind of shitty with yourself but that remained a part of your group regardless? All of that’s behind you now. Resist the urge to gossip about them when you’re with your other friends from the time period (sometimes I need to work on this).
16. When you get together with old friends, listen as much if not more than you talk. Be genuinely interested in hearing what’s going on in their lives.
17. If you feel like it’s been too long to re-kindle a relationship that you dearly miss, just reach out. If it’s weird, it’s weird. At least you’ll know.
18. Savor the big events. And remember them fondly. Weddings, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, graduation get togethers… these are the events that keep you coming back for more from a friendship.
What do you guys think? What do you do to deal with being separated from your friends? I’d love to add to this list – share your thoughts in the comments!