K.I.T—-a classic yearbook sign off. Maybe not as great as “H.A.G.S” or the classic “I just signed your crack” right in the crease, but still a great one. I was reflecting today on the value of relationship maintenance. I reached out to a friend who I hadn’t heard from in a while and had a really valuable, honest, and vulnerable conversation. It’s one of those conversations that made me remember why I’m friends with that person in the first place.
The reality is that it is really difficult to make this happen on a regular basis. Maintaining friendships, especially long distance is seemingly impossible. Trying to keep updated on all the people you care about is tough. I am certainly not great, or even good at this, but here are a few ideas that have been successful for me while pursuing the ever illusive well-maintained long distance friendship.
- Make reaching out a habit: Have a day of the week that you reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I like to make mine Monday since it feels like most of these conversations pick me up, and Mondays are always rough.
- Rotate though a list: I keep a small list of people I want to stay in touch with. Although it certainly could be much longer, I find that there are people who naturally make the list and those who don’t. I think this is normal and not necessarily a reflection on you, or someone else. We are all drawn to different types of people and should be allowed to pursue the relationships we want to pursue free of guilt.
- Make phone calls or text on your commute: Calling works best if you drive solo (and have hands free devices of course), but if you walk, bike, or even ride public transportation it is still possible and it is a great way to fill what is often unproductive time.
- It’s OK to keep it short: Sometimes my conversations are very simple and go like this:
- Me: Hey it’s been a while. How are you? Any new important life updates?
- Human Friend: Hey its great to hear from you (blah blah blah answers to prior questions) How have you been?
- Me: Oh Blah Blah Blah Blah stuff is like this and life and stuff.
- Human Friend: Oh cool, sounds great…uhhh
- Me: Yea, well I’ve gotta run but I just wanted to do a quick check in with you because I care about you and was thinking about you!
- Human Friend: Oh alright, well good talking to you.
- Me: Yea, I’ll call again sometime when I have a few more minutes. Take care.
- Human Friend: Yea, you too, bye!
- Little, short reminders of friendship can also be great: Don’t shy away from small emotional encouragement, a quick text that says “Hey your awesome!”, or “I hope your day is kicking butt”, or whatever you might say to encourage your friend are helpful and important. Inside jokes and reminders of good times are great too! Knowing whats going on in each others lives is great, but continuing to be a friend, even if you haven’t stalked their social media enough to know they got a new job might mean even more.
These are things I wish I could do better as I lament many lost friendships over the years, but I am truly happy for the ones that I have kept and maintained. Having strong relationships is one of the most valuable and enriching things in our lives, so I’m trying to make it more of a habit. I’m trying to commit to working on relationships, and not allow them to become passive. If anyone else has suggestions that work really well for them, I’d love to hear them! K.I.T friends!