Because I travel so much, and move states, cities, and countries so often, I now have friends pretty much everywhere, but I don’t have a home base anywhere. Most of my friends don’t really know each other or hang out together apart from little groups of two’s and three’s here and there.
One the one hand, this type of set up really works for me. I thrive off of one on one time far more than groups anyways so having to always hang out with single friends for the most part is actually preferable than trying to get a group together every time.
However, this gets a little difficult because it becomes impossible for me to actually see these friends as often as I’d like. There are people in LA, New York, Chicago, Virginia, Calgary, Milan, San Francisco, and Athens that I’d love to see all the time, but that’s just impossible.
Even so, the friends I have in these places are invaluable to me, and I refuse to let the relationships just die because they bring me so much joy. But, it can be really difficult to maintain them when we aren’t interacting with similar places or people and thus have less in common than when we were sharing an actual geographical location.
So how do I stay in touch with so many people that are so far away, you ask?
This is how –
- Figure out what method of communication works best in every relationship. Some friends I can go six months without talking to but then we get on the phone and talk for three hours. Some friends text me forty messages at a time and then we converse from there. I send FB messages as long as letters every few months to some friends. I send voice messages with other friends, and some friends I call on my commute to anywhere. Sometimes I just DM people when something on Instagram reminds me of them. Everybody has their best way of keeping in touch, and once you figure out a way that keeps you connected, keep on using it.
- Make plans to stay in touch as if you were making plans to see them in person. If I’m busy but I tell someone I’ll call them right back, I call them right back. If I schedule a skype call with someone on the weekend, then I treat it as if I was going to lunch with a friend. Carving time out of your day for this may seem less important than actual physical contact, but it can be just as meaningful if you make the effort.
- Visit each other as often as you can. I realize that traveling is not in everyone’s budget, but make the most of it when you can. For example, last summer I had a trip to Greece planned with my family but one of my best friends was living in Milan so I got to Greece a couple days early and flew to Milan to see him for just two days since I was already in Europe. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities like that and hopefully, you can always find ways to meet in the middle.
Obviously, this is not sustainable for a lot of friends, but I’ve made some super close ones over the years and there’s no reason that distance should change that. I won’t lie though, this is hard, and many people are discouraged because they feel like they don’t have anything in common with their far away friends, or at least not enough to reach out. While this may or may not be true, I’ve found that a good way to circumvent it is to be genuinely, super interested in your friend’s lives. Even though my friend in Milan goes to a school I’ve never been to and hangs out with people I’ve never met, I still ask him to tell me about all of it because then I can use it to keep us connected later. Staying in touch may seem overwhelming at times, but all it takes is a tiny bit of planning, and a tiny bit of effort and before you know it, you can stay in touch with anyone, anywhere.