19 August 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #3

#3: Long Distance Friendships

You think that being in a long-distance relationship is hard? Try a long-distance friendship. I've had to deal with long-distance friendships ever since going to boarding school. The first thing I learned: some friends are not defined by time or distance. To wit, I have a friend whom I've known since the 1st grade. We've been separated by distance and time, sometimes going more than a year without speaking. He is and will always be my best friend (and my mother's hope for grandchildren). On the other hand, I've been away from New York for three years and some of my friendships have shown major wear and tear.

First, there's the married/pregnant friend. When I was home most recently someone told me, "You're a good friend because you don't have a husband, a boyfriend or a kid" (not too harsh at all). I agreed. I don't have those things. But I give plenty of leeway for the new mother/wife status. You need time to adjust to those things. Still, a true friend checks in. In this age of communication, a text will suffice.

Then there's the "I know you already traveled across the country but can you also come directly to my house?" friend. This is the most insidious type of friend because when you're away they tell you how much they miss you, and when you tell them you're coming home they fawn over you and make promises for nights out and days walking around. Then there's the arrival ... and the inevitable excuses. I've concluded that the break down is as follows: Traveling home = 50% of the effort, Calling to arrange plans once you get there = 20%. If this friend can't make the last 30% happen, you are completely absolved.

Finally, there's the friend you've grown out of. In the world of friendships this is common but time and distance exacerbates things. Moving leads to growth and while you're gone some of your friends are essentially standing still. The jokes that were funny before aren't any more. And the neanderthal comments that once rolled off your back are now lodged somewhere on your shoulder, kind of like a chip.

What I've learned to do is evaluate each of my friends critically. Some friendships cannot stand the strain of distance. But unlike a romance, it's hard to cut someone out of your life who's been a fixture for more than a decade. So the question is: do you cut ties or loosen them? I tend to be a cutter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Girl. I know just what you mean by having a low tolerance for previously tolerated Neanderthal comments. Snip. Snip.