A major part of growing up is experiencing new things in life. From moving out for college to dealing with your first heartbreak, change is bound to happen and can bring about exciting opportunities you never had before! One of those opportunities is making new friends. However, while socializing and befriending new people, it’s important to continue maintaining friendships with those dear to you. Here are some ways to stay connected with old friends:
- Ask your friend what they need from you. Everyone is different when it comes to their needs and expectations. When it comes to maintaining an old friendship, it’s important to figure out what your friend needs from you and what you need from them. Maybe you don’t need to talk to your friend daily, but your friend does. Or, maybe it hurts your feelings when you’re not wished a Merry Christmas, but it doesn’t bother your friend. Asking a friend what they need from you in the friendship will help you understand how to continue being a good friend and make them feel remembered. If some of their needs can’t be met, such as being unable to talk on the phone every day because you are busy with school and work, be sure to make that clear. It’s better to be honest than to promise something you know you cannot fulfill.
- Decide how you’ll stay in touch. Once you and your friend figure out what each of you needs, discuss how you’ll meet those needs. Maybe you decide that Saturday mornings will be your time to catch up through FaceTime and that if one of you can’t, it’s okay to reschedule for another day that works best for both of you. Talking about how to stay in touch and how often will help you both maintain the care and love you all have for one another.
- Meet as often as possible. Maybe your friend lives 1,000 miles away from you, or you two are in the same city, but life has kept both of you busy. Whatever the distance, plan to meet in person as much as possible. This can look like spending time with each other if you or your friend are visiting home, booking an inexpensive flight to see them, or planning a trip together!
- Remind your friend that you’re thinking of them. As little as it might seem, sending a text to your friend letting them know they’re on your mind goes a long way. If you went to the restaurant you and your friend would eat at together between college classes, let them know and reminisce about those fun times. You can also write and mail them letters, ship them that little trinket you saw in the store and think they’d like, or send them a postcard when visiting a new place. Every thought counts!
- Celebrate them, even from afar. Even if you can’t be there to celebrate their accomplishments or birthday in person, you can still celebrate your friend by:
- Letting them know how proud you are of them
- Wishing them a happy birthday, if they celebrate
- Wishing them a happy holiday that they celebrate, even if you are from a different religion or different culture
- Sending them a gift
- Planning to celebrate when you all see each other in person
It’s important to be happy for your friends and let them know that, even if you can’t physically express it to them.
- Be there when they need you. There might be moments in the friendship when your friend needs your support or words of wisdom. Showing up for your friend, in person or virtually, lets them know how important they are to you and will keep that bond strong. Let them cry, vent, or talk to you about what they’re going through and offer as much compassion and understanding as possible. They will appreciate it.
Know also that it is completely okay to outgrow people and friendships. You don’t have to remain friends with people whose morals differ from yours or if your beliefs no longer align. There is nothing wrong with creating distance from friends you no longer wish to be close to.
For more information about friendships, check out these resources:
- Ask Auntie – I have friends back home that give me a hard time about leaving my rez.
- Ask Auntie – My best friend and I recently had this huge blowout, what should I do?
- Listening to a Friend Who Needs You
Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University.