Yesterday, TresSugar posted an article about how to stay friends with your high school friends once you’re in college. But for those of us who are well past our college years, staying friends with someone often means navigating marriage, kids, faraway moves, and demanding jobs. So how can you stay friends with someone you’ve known for years even when you’re all grown up and living on opposite sides of the world? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Don’t make value judgments. One of you is married and a stay at home mom, while the other is living the party girl life until 4 AM every night? It’s fine to acknowledge your differences, but make sure you’re not trying to say that one person’s choices are better or more important than the other’s.
- Liking their Facebook status doesn’t count as staying in touch. While social networking platforms help people to know what’s going on in their friends’ lives, it can often take the place of actual communication. My high school friend Kimberly and I try to have actual phone conversations as often as possible – even if we only talk for ten minutes, we get to hear each other’s voices and have a conversation in real time. Ten minutes of proper phone call is like two hundred photo “like”s on Facebook.
- Know the names of their ‘cast of characters.’ One of my close college friends and I moved to different cities when we graduated – I came to New York, she went to Washington, DC. As we each started meeting people and making friends, I made sure to remember the names of people she talked about regularly. That way, when she told me a story about something that was happening in her life, I didn’t have to stop half a dozen times and ask her to explain who each person was and how they were connected to each other.
- Create and keep rituals. Are both of you obsessed with America’s Next Top Model? Text each other during the commercial breaks about who you think is going to get kicked off. Do you love UNC basketball? Call each other as soon as the game is over to rehash all the plays. Having a special thing that you guys do together – even if you’re not in the same place – will keep you connected to each other.
- Remember why you’re friends in the first place. As people get older, they change, and that’s normal. But if your friendship is feeling strained or disconnected, it might help to remember what it was that brought you guys together as friends in the first place. Was it bonding over Chinese food and bad TV movies? Was it a shared hobby or activity? Reminiscing about old jokes or funny stories from that road trip you guys went on together will remind you why they’re in your life to begin with.