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Thoughts around distance

 In Family, Friendship

I firmly believe that distance is only ever an inconvenience at most. It’s never a true obstacle to keep you from connecting with anyone. But for many (including ourselves) it can be a very convenient excuse.

When you have decided to move far away from where you started, you will sometimes use these excuses yourself and quite likely you will hear other people use the same excuses. This obviously depends how far away you have moved, as the excuses from both sides tends to grow the further that geographical distance is.

What excuses am I talking about? Well, they might sound something like this:

  1. It’s so hard to organise a phone chat with the time difference being so many hours.
  2. They’ll never come and visit me anyway, it’s too far away.
  3. I can’t afford to go see my friend, it’s too expensive for the flight and spending money.
  4. Well, now that he has his new life over there, he probably doesn’t care about what goes on back at home anymore.
  5. I don’t have enough days of leave this year to go and visit my friend. 
  6. She just keeps going on about her travels and adventures, does she even care about me?
  7. It’s too hard to keep this connection going, we’ll just have to connect when we next meet and hope it’s all going to be fine. 

What stands between these excuses and the connection between you and this person is never distance or time difference. It’s commitment!

Sometimes one person moving can be a natural end to a friendship or connection that you both have gradually outgrown, which can be a good thing. But sometimes it can also be very painful for one person that the other person is moving on with their life without them. That goes for both people who stay back home and the ones who move away.

Only you can know if this connection or friendship is important enough for you to nurture, even if you happen to be far apart. If you find that this is someone you really want to stay in touch with, check in with yourself to focus on the things that are within your influence.

  • How can I connect with this person now that they are far away from me? (phone/email/Skype/sms/regular group email/Facebook/travel blog)
  • How can I show them how important they are to me even if we can’t meet as often as we used to? (send gift/flowers/package on their birthday, show interest in what they are doing, support their development, listen)
  • How often do we need to touch base for me to feel that our connection is important and alive?
  • How do I feel about quality vs. quantity in our friendship/connection? (1 really long chat less frequently, many small messages/chats more often, mixture of telephone chat and written communication)
  • For what purpose am I staying connected to this person? (long friendship history, lots in common, family bond, true understanding, habit, not ready to let them go yet)
  • What do I gain from connecting with this person? (fun, understanding, balance, sense of belonging, learning new things)

It can sometimes be tricky to answer these questions, but they are very important. If you can answer them honestly, then it will be very clear to you why this person is in your life and what role they can resourcefully serve. Connecting with others is always a commitment, because it means you need to make a decision on how important this is for you.

So choose to focus on quality connections and friendships in your life, regardless if you’re on the move or not. Because quality connections will help you grow and explore.

How do you feel about distance and friendship?

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Showing 2 comments
  • S
    Reply

    I go back and forth on how I feel about long distance and friendship.

    Not too long ago one of my closest friends had pretty serious surgery, the type that lasts for 17 hours. He was far away and left me “behind”, so not only was I honestly quiet freaked out about the whole surgery thing – I also lacked my closest support system – him. Being far away from home you tend to develop framily rather than friends, i.e. friends that become family.
    I was pretty much walking around on egg shells all day, nervous about every single message and email that I received regarding the progress of the surgery. But then there were the messages from my friends, scattered across Africa, Europe and the US. I have probably never before felt such gratitude over having a global circle of friends. It didn’t matter that they were not physically with me, because mentally they were there for me and for him. Obviously it also helped that I had other great friends around me that entertained me all day and tried to have me focus on other things. But despite long distance – friendship can still feel really present.

    However, I also do think that there is a difference in the friendships that I have formed abroad and those back home. Not in how much they mean to me or how important they are, but how easy or complicated they are to sustain. I find that people who have themselves experienced living abroad or far away from what was once home, will go to a greater length and put in more of an effort to both see you on a regular basis and to keep in touch with you via messages, email, whatsapp, Skype etc.
    I do think that when moving away from your home country you are seen a bit as the one who chose to move, i.e. you should bear the main burden of upholding the relationship. That is something that I find quite interesting and to be honest, at times a bit hurtful. I know the choices I’ve made, but I’ve also made an active choice in trying to have you in my life. For years I had a very low salary and the majority of all my savings went to go home, of course primarily because I wanted to, but also because otherwise I would never see a lot of my friends and I honestly believe that if I had not done so – we wouldn’t be friends anymore.

    In my line of work, we all move several times and we are likely to do so within a few years of getting to know one another. So I do understand that the way we act is because we have all experienced the same thing. But if I happen to travel to e.g. the US I will contact everyone within a.. lets say 15 hour bus radius to come and meet up. And many will. They will move around their schedules, spend the night on a bus and live really cheaply for a while to be able to afford to come and see me. As I would for them.

    Travelling home I often find that if I don’t get to the exact city where my friends are, not much effort will be done to come and meet me. That is of course not true for all of my friends back home. Some always make an effort, some have even come to visit me in my home far away. And again, it is not that their friendship is worth any less, that I value or love them less. But the relationships for sure require a whole lot more energy on my part.

    And maybe that is where all those questions above come in..

  • Emmy
    Reply

    Thank you S for your honest comment! You are certainly not alone in feeling this. The key with asking the right questions around these types of things is to abolish the ‘Why doesn’t x call me?’ and replace it with ‘How would I like this to be?’. Because all you can be certain of is your own input and effort. And I love how you filter in all the amazing friendships and connections you have, even if they are not right next to you right now!

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