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Distance Friendships — Sometimes, Add Effort?

Ever since my father put me to the Internet, I have been figuring out how to make, and maintain, long-distance friendships. I can tell you now that the first distance friendship I had some semblance of control over started in third grade. I can also tell you that in ten years, I still am no closer to figuring out the secret than I was then. I was probably closer then, considering how obsessed I was with actually having friends back then. Now, having embraced the individualistic concept, I am less geared towards maintaining friendships. I probably should work on that.

Distance friendships became more key to my life when I entered the summer after my junior year of high school and attended three summer programs and made friends in each. Facebook was a part of my life by then, as was of course email, texting, video chats, and much more. It didn’t even occur to me to utilize the original snail mail I had used for that first distance friendship. It was unnecessary anyway, and I doubt it would have saved the friendships that floundered anyway. I also determined that the ones that failed to be more than a summer fling were just that because of length of time together and distance. The week one, all failed and they lived out of town. The three-week one, we were also told to be a family and it worked. Most of us are still in touch. The three-day one, I became strong friends with the two from my hometown and still see them when we can get together.

So I thought it was all clear in my head. I was incorrect, because this past year was my first year of college. Everyone scattered like those annoying Styrofoam bits on carpet. And just like those stupid white pieces, some stuck out from the carpet for me to pick up and others seemingly got swallowed by the fuzz. What confuses me the most are the friendships that fell into which categories.

I have claimed to have three best friends for about three years now. One since seventh grade and she and I have not attended the same school since middle school. Still, we remain ridiculously close. The other two became my best friends freshman year and have been since. Yet, one of them has sort of fallen away and the other and I are still as close as we were. This surprises me, as the one that fell away was just – well, as we used to say, was my “cosmic buddy” and as goofy as it sounds, held heavy significance. I could not even try to explain.

I find it odd though. Besides these three, I have also become closer with other friends I have known through frequent contact in aforementioned social medias and others. Other distance friendships have strengthened, while others have pulled back a bit. I finally determined (once again) that this must be due to the way we were communicating. For example, those friends that rely on phone calls and hanging out during breaks were less likely to receive my attention because I find those activities time-consuming and time during college was not a commodity I had abundance of. Meanwhile, people who were willing to text me several times a day or communicate via Twitter, commenting on Instagram or Facebook photos/statuses, I certainly feel closer to. I even sat down from time to time to whip up emails. There are also friends who I rarely spoke to, texted, Tweeted or participated in any form of communication with (my goodness, I feel like a social media junkie when I list these, but oh well) but still know I am close to even if I am not up to date on every detail of their lives because when we do fall into each others’ laps – which still happens – we are just as comfortable as we were.

Which completely busts my theory.

I do not get it. Distance friendships are supposed to be hard (at least, that’s what I always understood), however, now it’s no longer a question of location as much as form of communication. And effort, definitely the effort. There are people who are in the same location as me and I have lost their friendships because neither makes the effort through the channels that we both use. But I have friends across the country, from different cultures and backgrounds who I supposedly have virtually nothing in common with only to still be in contact with them and feel as if we are solidly friends. It makes me go, what the  – well. You know.

Does anyone else notice this disjointed connection between friendships, made in person or online? I have less experience with friendships where we have never met, though that continues to evolve. So I also wonder what that is like, making friends with someone online and then keeping that friendship strong. I would imagine that if y’all (sorry, my South is showing) really connected, those friendships would remain because internet presence is the only form of interaction available anyway. Which also begs the question why friendships that are in the same location still die away, as many people know happens all too often. What messes with that dynamic? I am at a loss, what with one of my best friends being on the outs right now with me.

6 replies on “Distance Friendships — Sometimes, Add Effort?”

People grow and change. In my life, I didn’t get Internet friends til my thirties. Before that, some long-distance friends were still very close friends- it doesn’t matter how much time passes, we pick up where we left off. Local friends come and go- sometimes it’s scheduling, sometimes it’s just lack of effort. I’ve found it’s often just circumstance- and if we pick up again, we enjoy each other’s company. It’s just that due to life, our paths don’t cross very often.

I have a three cluster of lady friends, each of which gets together every 4-8 weeks. I try with all my heart to make it to their gatherings. Even if we don’t talk much between those glasses of wine, I value the time spent with them.

I know! I’ve been trying so hard over the last five years, and sometimes it’s just plain awkward realising that you don’t even know what to say to the person. I find it’s getting harder to find people that share your interests in real life.

Yes yes yes! It’s no longer just oh-we’re-friends, it’s really truly like a relationship when you’ve got the good friends. Definitely like dating when making new friends. And it’s HARD to make new friends that share your interests. Why can’t people have tags over their heads when they walk around, noting what they’re interested in? That would be helpful. Maybe technology will get to a point where you can just see that. It’s been so suggested.

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