For the first time ever, Ian and I are living in a town all by ourselves. We have our kid and we know some people, but our family is no where near us.
We’ve lived away from each of our families before. With my family in Louisiana and Ian’s in Georgia, we can’t really live near one without living away from the other. So we’ve grown accustomed to living away from someone, just not everyone.
After our move to Waco, we are now at least 5 hours away from our nearest relatives. We’ve had to find ways to make it a point to stay in touch.
I’ve found, when you live away from someone, it’s easy to get caught up in your routine.
It’s honestly (sorry, family) a little easy to forget about people when they’re not right in front of you. It’s terrible, but it’s true.
So now that we live near no one, I have made it a point to try and keep in touch with everyone as much as possible. It definitely takes some tricks to make it happen, but really guys, if you like your family and friends, it’s really important to make the effort.
HOW TO KEEP IN TOUCH
KEEP UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Honestly, I’m a little tired of people saying social media is not a legitimate form of communication. People meet their life long partners and best friends on social media. Not only that, but most of us are on there updating people on our lives anyway, so why should important relationships be any different?
It’s hard to stop what you’re doing for a phone call sometimes and even text messages can get a little too involved. Social media is a way that you can keep up with people and keep communication flowing regularly without taking too much time from your regularly scheduled tasks.
Just make sure you’re not lurking. Make a point to be active and communicate. Be supportive and involved so communication is never lacking.
This is also awesome for those of us with kids. When I’m going through my social media stuff, if there’s a photo or story from a family member, I grab Oliver so he can see them and experience them for a moment. This way he doesn’t forget their faces and he’s familiar with them. I want our kids to be able to feel familiar with our families, even if he doesn’t see them all the time. Plus, it makes him smile which makes me smile.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PHONE CALLS AND FACETIMES
The only downside to social media is, it can make conversations a little shallow. It’s not built for long catch ups with in depth details. It’s awesome for a quick catch up or comment, but it can’t be everything.
To keep the intimacy within conversations alive in any relationship, you need to actually have conversations. Not typed ones, not the kind where you have time to carefully evaluate what you’re saying before you send it off. You need real time conversations where you engage one on one with people.
I think the biggest strain that is put on long-distance relationships is the loss of personal connection. Family and friends are not excluded from that. When you stop sharing yourself and you stop taking time to engage with someone fully, you can forget how to interact with them. Sure, there are those people that you could go years without talking to and come back like nothing ever changed, but why would you want to?
It’s important to maintain more personal communication regularly with people who are far away so you can prevent losing that part of your relationship.
Sometimes, when you don’t talk to people often, you don’t want to bog them down with dirty details in the small amount of time you have with them. That, or maybe you just lose the comfort of sharing personal stuff with them when you don’t see them regularly.
Either way, it’s important to be open and to be yourself. Things don’t have to be light and fluffy and even people far away care to help.
Maintaining relationships is 1 part maintaining communication and 1 part honesty. A relationship can only stay as deep as you’re willing to let it. When you hide yourself or details of your life from people, especially long distance, you’re weakening the relationship and forcing it to the surface, potentially losing a relationship that could have been really meaningful otherwise.
MAKE IT ROUTINE
Talking on the phone and FaceTime is weird. It’s not hanging out but it’s not sitting by yourself either. It’s this awkward cross between the two where you’re not going to be physically with the person, but you’re still exerting social energy. It feels like one of those things where you don’t have to plan because you’re just sitting at home, but if you want it to be substantial or frequent, you really have to make a point to make it happen.
Honestly, (again, sorry family) I recently put “FaceTime with so and so” in my calendar. I have it on repeat with a certain amount of time in between to make sure I don’t get too distracted by life and forget the people I like.
I have found that if I don’t make it a point in my life to “hang out” with my family, then I’ll never make it happen.
I think really, the goal should be to stay familiar. Stay familiar with their lives through social media, but stay familiar with them as a person through reaching out and setting aside time to give them.
MAKE SURE THEY KNOW THEY MATTER
In all of this, all you’re really doing is saying, “Just because I can’t be where you are doesn’t mean I don’t care.”
When you reach out, it shows they matter. When you share personal parts of yourself, it shows you trust them and they haven’t lost the privilege of truly knowing you. When you maintain any amount of connection, you’re showing that your life is better with them in it.
Don’t be afraid to ask the personal questions or to check in when you want to. Really, just don’t be a stranger.
Distance doesn’t have to mean absence. It doesn’t have to mean gone for good. All it means is the wine from my bottle is not the same wine from yours. We can’t be in the same room, but we can certainly still be friends.
Photo by Pete Garnett