Prior to 2020 and the covid debacle, I don’t think many of us put a huge amount of thought into long distance friendships. Sure, those of us at university will have home and uni friends, and our parents have various social circles – but I don’t think we paid much attention to the long distance aspect of them. I want to delve into that in today’s post, because I think it’s relevant for a lot of us.
You’re probably going to roll your eyes as you read this, because I’m sure you’ve heard it countless times, but lockdown really has shaken up our society to the core. And one of the key things impacted by the various lockdowns have been relationships. I’m going to focus specifically on friendships here, since long distance romantic relationships have already been discussed a lot, but it’s only recently that I stopped to consider the impact the pandemic has had on all my friendships.
I mean, it’s in the name, isn’t it? We’ve had to socially distance ourselves from our friends in order to stop the spread. Unfortunately, socially distanced friendships are so much harder to maintain! I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way but it seems like I’ve lost touch with so many friends. After lockdown 1.0, it’s felt as though less people can be bothered to make the effort to reach out. Which is fair enough, seeing as we’ve been in this situation for almost a year now and virtual interaction can get pretty exhausting. However, it’s put a strain on a lot of friendships around the world, including mine, which makes me sad.
That draws me nicely to the subject of social media. First and foremost – and I hate to say it, but – where would we be without it the past year? It’s allowed us to stay in touch (whether we use it or not is a different matter) with friends and family. It’s allowed remote working to be a thing, for people to create new jobs and stay afloat in this crumbling economy. So, despite all its drawbacks, it’s done a hell of a lot for us. And I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to speak to my friends on text and FaceTime throughout all this, because I don’t know what I’d have done otherwise.
Despite the numerous social media platforms, it’s still possible – and common – to lose touch with friends over long distances. If you no longer see them every/ most days, it can be really hard to stay up-to-date with them and their life happenings. Plus, some people are notoriously bad at replying; maybe they don’t spend much time on their phone, or they forget to reply, or they just blank you (lol)… But whatever the reason, it results in the same thing: a loss of closeness, a distancing that isn’t just physical anymore. I find this really hard and I often think about some of the close friends I had pre-lockdown. Will we ever be as close again? Do they ever think about me? Did I ever even mean anything to them?
I know these questions probably seem quite dramatic, but it’s easy to fall into these thought patterns when you have so much time on your hands and so little social interaction.
One thing I will say is don’t be afraid to reach out. It could be as simple as “hey, how are you doing?” It will take you less than 10s to write and send, but it could really change someone’s day. I know I really appreciate it when I receive a message out of the blue from a friend, however close I consider them to be. I also know that it makes me realise who my true friends are; those that reach out to me regularly, unprompted, are the ones I cherish. I try to message my friends quite regularly too so that they know I care and that I’m here for them. Obviously, you don’t want to bombard anyone – because that’s exhausting – but a little message here and there can only do good.
And if someone is silent with you, don’t necessarily assume they’re ignoring you or no longer care. More often than not, they’re probably struggling with their own battles and doing the best they can. Rather than adopting the negative mindset of “I messaged last, so they should go first this time” (which I’m so often guilty of), set aside your pride and check in with them. Maybe that’s all they need to bring them out of their own battles, maybe not. But deep down they will notice and appreciate it.
Of course, if they are repeatedly ignoring you, then don’t feel pressured to message them. If they’re not a friend to you, you don’t have to waste your emotional energy trying to get a response out of them. Because, to those of you that never reply to texts: it’s the bare minimum, and it is most definitely not “needy” to expect a response to a question or a kind message. Friendships are two way things and both parties need to put in the effort for them to work long distance.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and are staying happy and healthy!