The Care and Keeping of Long-Distance Friendships
It can be painful when a close friend moves away. Keeping in touch is supposed to be easier now than in any other point in history, but reaching out can still be daunting. Friendshipping, The Art of Making Friends, Being Friends, and Keeping Friends is an antidote to long-distance friendship anxiety. Read on to learn how to keep a long-distance friendship alive!
Excerpted from Friendshipping by Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano. Copyright © 2021 by Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano Cover and interior illustrations copyright © 2021 by Jean Wei.
When long distance enters a friendship, your relationship will evolve and change. Fortunately, this does not signal the end of the friendship; it just signals a new kind of friendship. Our first piece of advice: Find the absolute easiest, least complicated way for you to talk—one that works for both parties. Before the move happens, you may be tempted to establish strict keep-in-touch plans that you have not tested out: “We will play co-op computer games and shout at each other online every weekend.”Or “Email every single time you go on a date with someone new and spare no details.” Or “We shall gab on the phone every Sunday night for forty-five minutes for our mandatory friendship time.” We understand why you’d want to make plans ahead of time—you want reassurance that you’ll stay close. But your plans might not pan out so well in reality. If you miss a phone call or email, you’ll feel guilty. Or what if you’re just not in the mood to chat when Sunday night rolls around? Make it as easy as you possibly can on yourself and your friend to connect. Catch up in a way that is low-stress, allows for flexibility, and doesn’t come with obligations.
And when you do connect with each other, recognize how awesome that is. Now that you are long distance, the little things—emails, comments on your social media, the short and sweet text messages— matter more. When your friend takes time from their busy and faraway life to reach out to you, that should mean a little more than any ol’ text message. You’re on their mind! How nice. And when they cross your mind, tell them so.
Your friendship can survive a change of scenery, but prepare for an adjustment period as you find your sea legs. Here are some other ideas for staying close with a long-distance friend:
EXAMINE YOUR OWN COMMUNICATION HABITS.
If you don’t regularly ask questions like “What’s new with you? / How are you? / How was your day?” now is the perfect time to add these friendly phrases to your vocab. If you tend to ignore your phone (don’t blame you) or rarely answer text messages, change it up. If you’re not much of a sharer, it’s time to get in the habit of talking about your life. You may not be well practiced with sharing because your friend is usually there to live it with you. That’s not true anymore. Give updates. Send photos. Talk about how your spouse is doing, the furniture you are painting, the new brewery you toured, the job you are going to apply for. It doesn’t have to be over a phone call—don’t strain yourself to use the phone if you never do—but you can safely assume your friend cares about what is happening in your life.
BE PREPARED FOR SOME FOMO.
That means fear of missing out. When you see glimpses of your long-distance friend’s life on social media, surrounded by people you’ve never met and looking like they are having the time of their life, your first reaction might be sadness and jealousy. Now you’re finding out that they are starring in the local production of Peter Pan through a Facebook status update?! How dare they not call you! A little jealousy is normal, but you need to chill out and not act on it. Your friend doesn’t need to hit pause on their life just because you are not there.
UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR FRIEND WILL MAKE NEW FRIENDS.
At some point you may notice that your friend is somehow doing fine without you nearby. Maybe that makes you feel relieved and delighted on their behalf, or maybe it makes you feel a little sad, like you’re on the sidelines instead of in the game with them. But the sidelines are very important—that’s where your teammates rest between crucial plays!
More About Friendshipping
With eight billion people in the world, why is it so hard to meet and make new friends?
Navigating the world of adult friendships can be a real challenge when everyone is busy, overwhelmed, or too often too far away. Here to help are Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano, the duo behind the cult favorite podcast Friendshipping. Insightful, empathetic, and just a touch irreverent, Jenn and Trin give readers the tools they need to make new friends and revitalize the quality of existing friendships. The book covers it all:
- Meeting new people
- Mastering the art of small talk
- Deciphering the levels of friendship in the workplace
- Making the first friend move, plus how to give a non-creepy compliment
You’ll also learn why it’s important to use the same IRL etiquette when making friends online; how to decide if a friendship is toxic and know when it’s time to move on; and most important, how to be a better friend, to yourself and others.