Friendship from a distance

By Lisa Linssen Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/2 15:03:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

When people move abroad, they do not just leave their family but also their friends. The distance can be a harsh endurance test for friends.

I have been living abroad for almost three years now, and even though I have lived far away from home multiple times before, it has never been for so long. Slowly but surely I can feel the weight of the time and distance hanging heavily on the strings that hold my friendships back home together.

Even though modern forms of communication make it fairly easy to keep in touch, the lack of physical closeness can eventually become a friendship killer.

Of course, it is nice to be able to see so many pictures of my friends having fun, but I do not just want to see them having fun, I want to be with them, enjoying quality time together. Instead of typing yummy on my friend's latest food porn post, I want to sit across from them, have lunch, gossip and laugh together. It is nice to be able to share voice messages, pictures, messages and calls, but real moments are a rarity with my friends.

I am good at keeping in touch and really try my best not to become a stranger. But lately, it seems lopsided. Now it takes longer to get a reply, and sometimes I don't get an answer at all. It really makes me wonder how much longer my long-distance friendships will last. One of the first lessons I learned when it comes to long-distance friendships is that keeping the relationship alive has to be mutual. Maybe it is time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Specialists suggest that to keep a friendship alive, you have to see each other in person at least every six months; otherwise, once established jokes and running gags fade into lost memory just like old pictures.

Friendship has to be nursed, cherished and fed with new memories so that everyday life does not swallow it. A long-distance friendship takes as much effort and work as a long-distance relationship. In both cases, not being a part of each other's daily life can drive people apart.

Keeping friends close to one's heart also means having shared experiences and continuously adding new ones to the friendship portfolio. Soon I will have the opportunity of making new memories with my friends, and I really hope that these few days back home will be enough for our friendship to survive at least another six months.

Truth be told, our lives keep changing. Being abroad is a new, different life from the one I had in my home country. New companions are slowly filling the space that some of my old friends left.

I cannot keep all of my friendships alive over the distance. That is the second lesson I had to learn when it comes to having friends who live on the other side of the world.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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