My parents once told me that college would be the ultimate four years of my life, and they were pretty much right on the money — during those four years, I made a lot of new friends who had similar interests as I did, and we were all in walking distance from each other, so grabbing lunch together and hanging out were insanely simple tasks to manage. But then graduation happened, and my on-campus buddies become long-distance friends, and being able to catch up became almost impossible. Life happens, and we can't really expect everyone to remain in the same town forever.
Our generation has it way better than our parents did — thanks to social media, we have an easy way to see who's popping out babies, and who just got a stellar promotion at work. While these updates are way less personal than a typical face-to-face meet-up at the dining hall, they're at least stepping stones to try and keep your friends close. But, as the years pass, it becomes harder and harder to remain connected to your old group regardless of these advantages. It stinks. Seriously, there's no other way to put it. If you've ever felt nostalgic to look back on old memories, likely in a hardcover photo album (since, we used those back then), you've felt the grief of crumbling friendships.
But, the good thing is that it's never too late to either reconnect with a friend, or keep a distant friendship strong. Here are a few ways you can make sure your friendships stay solid, regardless of the amount of miles and milestones between you.
1. Become pen pals
Pen pals have become a thing of the past. It's weirdly tough to sit down and pen a handwritten letter, when you can just text away. But, think back to when mail was more than just bills and flyers — it was exciting to have something addressed just to you. While this type of communication isn't instant, it's still a nice reminder to know that your friend set an hour aside to focus solely on writing out how they've been, for your eyes only. Real mail proves that this friendship isn't just an afterthought. Plus, letters are great to hold onto.
2. Plan an annual meet-up day
If your friend group was big, it's probably tough to try and get everyone together. By planning an annual day, whether it be at a restaurant or someone's house, your friends will have enough time to plan a way to be present. Plus, it'll likely be something they look forward to. Try to keep costs low (like, renting a hall and a DJ isn't important) to inspire more people to show up. It's good to have one specific day where all of you can get together and talk about both old and new memories.
3. Facetime or Skype as much as you can
Texts are easy, but they aren't as personal. It's important to see someone's face every once in awhile. Don't be afraid to set up a time and catch up face-to-face, no travel necessary. Even if it's a five minute chat, you'll feel way more involved with your friend. If they've moved recently, a digital tour via cellphone is better than just hearing descriptions. Use technology to your advantage.
4. Let your friendship have a 50/50 balance
This one is a two-parter. Not only should you talk as much as you listen, but you should remember that the strongest friendships are focused on both heavy and light news. If you start using your friend solely to complain about your significant other, you're going to weaken your bond. They'll likely stop picking up the phone if they know that you're just going to vent for the 10th time that month. While leaning on your friends for advice is important, make sure that you're giving them the time to discuss their own life news, as well.
Also, as much as you depend on your friend for life guidance, remember to also bring up topics that you'll both be able to relate to. Did you both watch Making A Murderer? Discuss that. Curious about America's Next Top Model taking a Tyra-less step forward? Ask your friend what she thinks. Adulthood has its rough moments, but good friends always make sure to keep it light and fun when necessary.
5. Remind yourself that you're never too busy to send a text
Sometimes friendships can die out based on communication dry patches. If you're thinking about a friend, remind yourself that it takes two seconds to send a simple text. It sounds like common sense, but it's weirdly tough to do at times. Everyone likes knowing that they're thought of, and maybe your brief text will end up brightening up their day. Even if you've read an article that reminds you of them, sending it along with a "this made me think of you, miss you" message will help strengthen your bond.
6. Swap monthly mixes
If you and your friend both dig music, making a monthly mixed CD or shared playlist is a great way to keep in contact. Not only will you be able to expand your music knowledge, but you'll think of your friend every time you listen to it. Creating traditions like this will make you look forward to every month of the year (even the cold ones).
7. Keep your jealousy in check
If your close friend lives far away, there's a chance that she's found a new group of friends. Remind yourself that that's normal, and healthy, as well. If your friendship was built to last, remember that she's likely not trying to replace you. She's simply living her life, as should you. It might be tough seeing her with unrecognizable people on Instagram, but if you were around, you'd probably have been invited out as well.
Jealousy is a big friendship killer. Take a deep breath, and remember that having other friends doesn't mean she no longer has a bond with you. By letting each other grow, you're only ensuring a stronger friendship in the long run.
8. Offer to visit
When someone moves away, they often feel pressured to be the one traveling back home to see friends and family. But sometimes, it's nice to be able to forget about transportation costs and play host once in awhile. If you schedule a time to go out and visit, your friend will appreciate the fact that you're curious about seeing her brand new place without her having to fill up a tank of gas, or look for a pet-sitter. Believe me — it's a relief.
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