Distance is hard. Being away from the people you care about is exceptionally difficult. This isn’t new or surprising information to anyone, but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about, especially with the upcoming holiday season.

In our culture and media, long-distance relationships are often a hot topic. Can they work out? How do you get them to succeed? Are they even worth the effort? But no matter the question, one common theme is our focus on romantic relationships. So where do friendships fit into long-distance relationships?

The stakes are different with friendships because you aren’t relegated to having only one. (Yes, I realize people can also have open relationships, so you aren’t technically stuck in a monogamous one when long-distance, but for the sake of writing ease and the average relationship, just bare with me.) That being said, maintaining friendships isn’t necessarily easier just because you aren’t committed to one person.

Almost six months ago, now, I moved half way across the country, leaving all of my friends back in the Midwest. As I’ve learned in my 26 years, some relationships hold strong, while others fizzle out. I think the ones that survive do so out of a combination of hard work and good luck. It seems hard to predict which ones will last. Throughout my many years of moving around for school and work, I’ve lost touch with a lot of people I considered good friends and still talk with some people who I would have initially anticipated never keeping in contact with. Life’s fucking funny that way.

I wish I knew the secret recipe for making these types of friendships work. Some friends I talk with almost every day, even just about the mundane happenings in our lives and politics (a whole lot of politics, lately). Others I talk with a few times a month about our life crises and the stress of surviving in a capitalist world that really just cares about what you’re producing and contributing to the economic market – we’ll blame that second part on the fact that most of my friends have graduate degrees in literature.

What I’m getting at is there doesn’t seem to be one formula for success, which really isn’t that comforting or frankly very helpful. However, if both of you don’t put in the effort, you can be pretty sure no amount of luck will keep fanning the fire, even with social media reminding both of you the other one exists (until you’re forced to unfollow one another on Facebook because, really, you can only see so many baby and engagement pictures – or maybe that’s just me).

Whatever it is, I’m thankful for the lasting friendships that do survive the test of time, especially as I’m currently headed home to reunite with the friends I haven’t seen since May or June. As fun as it is to keep in touch through texting and Facebook, you can’t really replace actually seeing each other and hanging out, so the one thing I do know is that I’ll be enjoying the non-long-distance time.

No matter how good you are at keeping in-touch with one another, it’s pretty freakin’ hard. When you get used to seeing someone all the time, it’s a super difficult adjustment being stuck interacting and mediated through a screen. I’ve found that no matter how in-contact you stay, you’ll still have the nights where you sit there thinking about how much you miss them. On the challenging, shitty days, it can be a bit extra hard because not only are they not there to talk to, but you end up then ruminating both on how much you miss them and whatever already fucked up your day (or maybe that’s just me).

So here’s to reuniting with your friends.
Drinking, relaxing, and talking about all the shit that’s been eating you up.
To friendship.


Author: Dani Howell

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