May 5th, 2022
Table of Contents
- Why Distance Occurs
- Why it’s Good to Keep in Touch Frequently
- Changing Our Perspective
- Various Options We Have
In this blog I’m wanting to discuss reasons why Keeping in Touch is important and suggestions on how to do so to assist those who may feel limited on what they are able to do, but open to trying different ideas. These are my opinions and as such they may not align with your views or relationships. I do implore you to not only look at your side of the relationship, but also the other person’s as what works for you may not fully be compatible with them. This post is about compromise, not changing who you are, but expanding upon relationships you have.
Why Distance Occurs
It’s not always intentional, but distance will occur. A friend may have a baby and isn’t able to hangout as often. Another friend may get a job in a different state or country and physically cannot be near you. New relationships may emerge and time is spread too thin, where you trust that your connection with the person is strong enough to spend less time with them, and more time with the new person. Also stress may be overwhelming the other person and they need time to re-focus on themselves and family. They may even be in the same city as you, but you both may not see each other for months — or let’s hypothetically say a pandemic occurs (too soon, sorry).
A lot of times we’ll hear or say, “I don’t have enough time” or “It’s not personal”, and that very well may be true to an extent. We tend to find ways of rationalizing what is only attempting some common techniques to help us feel okay with the circumstances. I want to be clear that there are no underlying passive aggressive or negative tones when I say this. It goes with most things in life, we learn to cope with things that make us feel down by figuring out ways around it or ways to believe we have done everything in our power to make it work. This includes saying to ourselves or others, “You just need to accept that it is what it is” or “I’ve done everything I can”. Basically it is hyperbolic speaking to help enforce your actions or potentially even believing that “everything” was done, but other routes may not have been explored or accepted as potential avenues. Other reasons may be an unwillingness to attempt those options as the person may have forgotten about them, didn’t know about them, or they just don’t want to do them. These reasons can limit the ways we keep in touch with others. Allowing more time to be put in-between contacting each other, eventually accepting it as the “norm” for that relationship.
We live in the year 2022 (or whatever year you’re reading this) and for the most part, people are on the “grid”. The options for keeping in touch with others are extensive, but our mind and/or energy limits us. We are constrained by multiple factors including stress not allowing us to think we have much time or energy. Don’t get me wrong, certain days or weeks the person may be out of it, but I’m talking about the pattern that emerges from believing we have no energy and the inability to do anything more than what has already been offered. There are things that can be done on limited energy that still can make a great impact. There’s also the lack of openness to creative techniques we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. Then there are people from the generation (myself included) where the ways of communicating were through riding your bike to see a friend; handwritten letters to those farther away; or phone calls, where your distance was limited to how long the kitchen phone’s cord stretched. Our time talking to people was limited if a parent was waiting for a phone call or on the dial up internet. So we became accustomed to contact being far and between.
Why It’s Good to Keep in Touch Frequently
Our lives tend to move us away from the ones we like or even love. Bonds that are just forming or ones that have been around for decades will inevitably include a small or large amount of distance due to many factors. This may or may not lead to losing a bond we once had. As time goes by people start “changing”. More life experiences occur and opinions will form leaving the person we once knew to become someone who is slightly or completely different than who we originally befriended. This includes ourselves. It is rare to find a person remain the exact same after life gets ahold of them. When distance is added to the mix we may be left with this idea of a person, but when reunited they may not fully match what we remember. Now you’re in a situation in which you don’t fully know who they are anymore. You know of them, and who they were, but have their political views changed; have they done actions you are unable to be around; is their personality different than what it was when you first bonded with them? There are many reasons why we may not “know” a person anymore. When you don’t fully know someone your trust diminishes a bit or fully. You no longer are able to open up and be vulnerable with them as you don’t feel comfortable anymore. You both may need time to re-establish that comfort level you once had, but it is possible that it may never happen again as some people are not willing to put in the effort to get to know the “new” person.
If we continue with the relationship more consistently then we have opportunities to see what is going on in their life; have discussions with them about topics we disagree on; or even evolve with them on topics we fully didn’t believe in at the time. Consistency in communication also helps people feel comfortable discussing deeper topics with them. It is rare that people feel comfortable contacting someone they haven’t spoken to in years to talk about their pet passing, or losing their job. Even day to day things may seem silly to talk about, such as frustrations with a person at the grocery store. So what ends up occurring is putting off conversations, because we may think, “why would they want to hear about this,” and then ending up not talking at all. Even only being contacted during holidays can cause issues as eventually the emotional connection starts leaving and we’re left with more of an obligatory feeling. I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone, but, if you look back at your relationships and what they once were compared to what they are now, how many friends that you haven’t spoken to in years do you feel you could talk to without feeling anxious that they may not want to talk to you or you may not want to talk to who they are now. Are you comfortable talking to them about the “negative” stuff in your life or only the “positive”? How about the deeper or day to day? I understand you may be able to talk to them, but is it how it once was when you spoke to them consistently or does it feel a bit off now? Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are some people we are okay with only having limited communication, but who I’m talking about, are those people who greatly impacted your lives and were a big part of a time period in your life or even the person you felt that potentially they could be this in your life.
Changing Our Perspectives
Just like most things, compromise comes into play when you are trying to keep a relationship intact. It takes a willingness to go out of your comfort zone, even if your comfort zone is something you believe others should accept about you. A relationship doesn’t only involve you though. Your actions affect someone else and what if their needs are different than yours, shouldn’t that be accepted as well? That’s where compromising comes along. I understand some people may say the friendship won’t work if they don’t accept your choices when it comes to relationships or maybe they’re not a right fit in your circle, which again, is true in ways. That raises the question, who are the people we are missing out on because we aren’t willing or ready to compromise?
There are so many ways to be present in one another’s life with limited time and energy or physical limitations but it’s all about compromise. In this we have to be patient with one another and remember some key factors.
- BE OKAY WITH TRYING SOMETHING NEW
They are happy to be with you and they, too, should be going into this knowing that the priority is the relationship not hyper-focusing on whatever you are doing together. Potentially you may both exceed in what you’re doing, but this should be an after thought for at least the beginning. Goals are always nice to work towards with another person, so if it is something like losing weight, learning something new, or wanting to get to a certain rank in a video game, then of course there will be time spent on strategizing. The point I’m trying to make is never forget the reason why you chose this person to go on this escapade with. Finding something that you both enjoy is optimal, but also being open to something you may not fully enjoy is important too. The reason you may not have enjoyed it previously was because of the experience you had that didn’t include this person. So attempting it again with someone new may have a different outcome.
I have known many people to deny playing video games with me because they weren’t “good” at them, but the point of the suggestion wasn’t about needing someone to match my level, but to hang out with them. Sadly, it wasn’t attempted because of them not wanting to try something new, be okay with not being “good”, or being closed off to something that they had previous negative experiences with. I would take this to heart and feel upset. Due to my social anxiety I’m not comfortable with meeting people in person or going to parties, but I did push myself past this discomfort to spend time with them. It’s getting passed certain mindsets and focusing on the core of what you’re wanting from these interactions. The intentions are keeping in touch; creating or maintaining a bond; and/or strengthening a bond. This in my opinion, should override the feeling of not being “good” at something. When it comes to keeping a relationship it’s important to maintain a good foundation as even foundations can crack. Ultimately finding a compromise that settles on both of your interests and comfort levels is what will help this to succeed. It may take time, but that’s where trying something new more than once is important to see what works for the both of you.
2. COMMITMENT, CONSISTENCY, AND TRANSPARENCY
Whatever you choose to do doesn’t have to include doing the same things you once did together or seeing each other in person. Communicating to each other about your boundaries, schedules, and other factors will immensely help avoid issues in the future. Let the other person know about what’s going on in your life or how you handle new things. Also being transparent by telling the person what your intentions are; what you are wanting from this; and continuing to do the actions will help with your side of things. Make sure to ask them about what they are wanting too. This will help to find what works for the both of you. That delays in responses may occur; they may not be able to multi-task and this may cause issues with communicating during the hangout; or other actions that may cause someone to question the situation. Reassuring them that you are there for them to ask questions, show patience while they adjust, and that they are not a burden during this is important as well. People tend to give up on things they aren’t good at or match the other person’s level, because of not wanting the other person to be “slowed down” or being self conscious about being new at something. There are reactionary situations that may emerge from both sides that you should also take into account and potentially check out my Reactionary Mindset post to help you through some hurdles along the way. Better understanding each other will help get past certain established mindsets. Initially, not everyone will be open to this. There may be an unwillingness to change up what they do, but remember that this may not be about you, but about themselves.
Consistency and commitment are essential for this to work. Sure we can hang out one time, have a great time, and then not talk to each other for awhile, but the longer we wait the more distance may occur. So finding “smaller” things to do in-between the “hangout” sessions will help keep yourselves consistent and committed. You don’t have to talk every day or exert a lot of energy to do this, and in an upcoming section I will suggest some things you probably already know, but feel like they may not make an impact. Everything does make an impact, small to large, as it is relative depending on the person. It’s more of the combination of what we do to ensure our relationships stay strong. As discussed in a previous blog, doing one thing won’t work for everyone. Usually you need multiple methods to make things work. Mixing and matching different ideas to find the combination that works for the both of you instead of settling on one thing that may work for you but not for them. Also fresh ideas are critical just like any relationship to keep us engaged, because doing the same thing, day in and day out may not be good for those who need to feel like they are progressing in some way.
3. YOU? ME? YOU?
There are some cases where the person wants the distance as they do not want you in their life at that current time. That’s a whole other post, but for this blog, we are assuming that’s not the case. Your thought process, however, can make a world of difference. If you find yourself assuming or projecting, try to see it from an angle that although it may not seem like they are wanting to talk, maybe they think you don’t want to. Possibly the distance already occurred, but because it is relative you may not have noticed it happening. Waiting around to see if they’ll make the first “move” for the interaction may never occur in cases like this. Maybe even in their heads they thought they did, but you didn’t realize it. So that’s where you sometimes have to push through the anxiety of contacting someone or the negative thoughts you may have about the situation, and just ask, “Hey! Been awhile, let’s catch up?” or “I’d love to try and find something we both can do so we are more active in one another’s lives.” Worst case is they say no or I’m busy, but at least you aren’t wondering, “What if…”
Various Options We Have
I want to help share with you what I’ve been attempting to do for years when it comes to keeping people connected and what has helped my relationships as long as the other party is willing to try something different or new to them.
Some ideas may seem far off from your style and others may seem too simple that you question if it actually does make a difference. You may already be doing these, if so keep doing it! The phrase “little things go a long way” holds true. I have included a chart down below to assist you with the suggestions along with some additional information to see what fits your style.
Starting off with a simple text while you’re on the toilet be it a gif, a quick hello, an inside joke, a trivia question, a joke or a thinking of you. All of these methods show that you are wanting to put in the effort and that you are thinking of them. They can range from seconds to hours depending on what you put into each method. Both physical and technological ideas are included. As mentioned previously, using only one of these may not work. Trying multiple ones may have better results.
|Texting||Minor: Send a greeting, gif, or trivia|
Major: Share a memory; have a conversation about their day and/or your day; discuss a topic of interest
|Treat the text as you would a Pen Pal. Expect delays & inform them there may be delays on your side. Keep it open ended.|
|Phone Call||Minor: Call someone to leave a voice mail or to hear their voice.|
Major: Have a conversation about a memory; your days; or topics of interest.
|If you are only able to speak for a little bit, make sure you let them know what your intentions for the call was. Also sending a follow up text if the conversation is cut short.|
|Video Chat||Minor: Doing things around the house but being able to glance at each other as if you were hanging out in person.|
Major: Having a conversation with them & being able to see each others’ mannerisms.
|First asking them if they have time for a video call, as many people may not be available or comfortable with a spontaneous video chat. Also knowing people may have to multi-task.|
|Gaming||Video games; Table Top Games (ex. D&D); Fantasy Football (basketball, soccer, etc.); card games, or board games (all of these can be played in person or virtually).||Creating schedules (ex. I have Minecraft Mondays at the same time each week), finding specific games that work for the both of you, and being patient with each other’s learning curves.|
|Hobbies||Playing a sport (ex. Disc Golf); go hiking; create an exercise group; learning an instrument together; taking a class together (Udemy usually has sales); watching movies; create a podcast, blog, or YouTube channel; or even write a book.||Depending on your comfort levels with meet ups you can do a lot of these separately but together (ex. video chat & Discord) or outside. Make sure you also find something you both enjoy.|
|Music||Create a shared playlist||Talk to each other through music. Share songs that mean something to you, each other, or expressing how you are feeling.|
|Chatrooms||Have a group chat or create a Discord channel with multiple sections to participate in at your leisure.||Time is relative and regardless of your schedule the chatroom will always be open. Make sure to set your phone notifications to DND or mute channels so you do not get overwhelmed and want to|
|Social Media||Participate in each other’s social media by supporting them on their projects; commenting; and sharing. Streaming on Twitch and conversing while gaming, playing music, or other hobbies||This is a great way to see each other’s lives but be careful not to go the route of only viewing without conversing.|
I hope what I have shared with you helps in some way as I want to make sure that we see relationships from other perspectives outside of our own and that our relationships grow and continue on.
Until the next Scenario.