Some of my best friends in the world have been my friends for most of my life. I’ve known one of them since first grade, a few from sixth grade, and some from high school — and I speak to them all regularly.
People sometimes ask me how I’ve managed to maintain these friendships for so long, especially since most of them are long-distance friendships. Friendships take effort to keep up, but if you find the right friend, it’s all worth it.
Here are five tips to make maintaining a long-term friendship a bit easier.
1. Make plans with them.
The key to successfully maintaining any kind of relationship is to keep the communication line open.
Now I’m not saying that you have to have a call schedule. But I recommend making an effort to do a video call or phone call with them at least once a month. A call is more personal than just texting.
Even if you’re not living in the same place anymore, making plans with them online will feel like the old days of being able to make in-person plans together.
One fun way to make online plans is to have a game night. There are lots of online party packs like Jackbox Games that you can play remotely over Zoom screen sharing and cell phones.
2. Keep up with your social media account.
If you stop seeing someone who doesn’t have social media, it’s almost as if they don’t exist anymore.
We now have this amazing technology that allows us to see where the people in our lives are, and it’s incredible. So utilize it! Who knows what friendships you can rekindle just through a comment on someone’s Facebook post?
3. Check in with them.
If you’re not ready or able to schedule a call with someone, a check-in text is great too. It lets the person know you’re thinking about them without being too much at once.
Sometimes a check-in message can make someone’s day. And a text conversation can culminate in a renewed friendship, so it’s worth taking that shot!
4. Don’t give up on the ones who don’t give up on you.
I’ve lost my fair share of friends. After my freshman year of high school, I moved to a different state. So it was inevitable that I wouldn’t keep in touch with everyone.
I had many moments of sadness, writing dramatic open letters to friends I thought would never come back into my life. But old friends come back when you least expect it.
For example, I had a few friends from middle school that I was inseparable from. But after high school and college, we’d be lucky to talk a few times a year. Of course, we’d check in with each other every so often, but I was sure that soon enough, they would just be part of my past.
But when COVID-19 first hit, we started talking more and more. We even created our own Minecraft realm together. Now, even as the world’s starting to open up, we continue to talk every week.
Even when it seemed like our friendship was over, we didn’t give up on each other.
5. Know when to let go.
On the other side of this, you should let go of the friends that have given up on you. You’ll never be able to keep every single childhood friendship. But the ones who really care will make as much of an effort to talk to you as you do to them.
It may take some time, but you will eventually hear from the ones who care about you. But if you find yourself being the only one reaching out, it’s okay to stop if that’s the healthier option for you.
Keeping childhood friends is wonderful. But you have to make sure those people can be your adulthood friends too.
Like romantic relationships, friendships take work. But when you put in the effort, you’ll have someone who’s there for you through thick and thin for the rest of your life.