How do you maintain a long-distance friendship? What’s more, how do you make it thrive?
The problem isn’t that you can’t talk to the other person. You now have many different ways to communicate with almost anyone because of the internet: Skype, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.
The problem is what to base a friendship on if you don’t live in the same geographical area and generally aren’t doing the same activities. You can’t make sports your shared passion – hunting, painting, skiing, or even work are usually localized.
I have my own set of scattered friends. Of anything that I’ve to bring them together, reading has been the best.
Books accomplish the neat trick of giving you something to talk about besides smalltalk or “updates” on life. Updates on life can be fun but get tedious. No relationship is built on updating the other person what you’re doing apart from them.
The book actually takes the focus away from “maintaining the relationship” via forced updates and makes it about an item of shared value and interest. In this way, it works better to preserve the actual relationship.
I’ve found this myself with some of my world wanderer friends. Just seeing each and other and talking in the context of a virtual book club has helped us get to know each other without making “catching up” just another tour.
Now I have a group of friends, one of whom I just met in person for the first time this weekend, with whom I have deep acquaintance through a virtual book group. I have a friend in California with whom I haven’t spoken in months, but who can kick off a conversation with me with ease about a book series we’ve read concurrently for nearly half a year.
Books serve as conduits for all of the energy and humor and intelligence we would otherwise spend together in person. It’s amazing what a shared purpose can do.
Oh, and another thing – your shared purpose doesn’t have to be a book. A serialized TV show will work almost as well. My brother and I frequently reconnect by talking about Game of Thrones.
If you have relationships which have been stretched out over long distances which you want to revive, there are few better ways to reconnect than to read with those friends – and talk about what you’ve learned.