How to Maintain Friendships

How to Maintain Friendships

This weekend, I returned home to visit family and see my friends graduate from college. It was a momentous occasion. It also caused me to think about the relationships I've worked to develop the past four years.

 

During this time, I met some of my closest friends, people I plan to stay in touch with for the rest of my life. I also thought about the relationships I've built in D.C., including friends, classmates, co-workers and other working professionals.

 

For a long time, I have had difficulties keeping up with friends over distance. And while I think about them often, I rarely bring myself to write a letter or give them a phone call. Yet as I've traveled more often and made friends all over the country and the world, I've learned a few important things about maintaining relationships.

 

Find Small Ways to Communicate

First, for someone like me who isn't particularly good at keeping in touch, settle. Settle for the easy means of communication and send a message or note at the time you're thinking about that person. (There are notable exceptions: Don't email your former boss at 3 a.m.) For some people, this may mean Facebook Messenger, a quick text or an email. Personally, I use all three, depending on where I feel most comfortable interacting with that person.


 

Courtesy of ligo.com

 

Don't Lose Sight

Second, don't lose sight of what's in it for you. Friends often change our perspective on things. During my internship at The Washington Center, I became friends with two Belgian students, who always helped me understand U.S. politics from a European perspective.

 

My Peruvian, Mexican and American roommates at TWC each had a distinct personality, worldview and culture. This came up regularly as we talked about food in the kitchen or talked about politics while watching MSNBC or Fox. All of our friends have different life experiences than we do. And that provides us with something valuable—a learning opportunity and new experiences.

 

I plan to remain in touch with all the wonderful people I've met in D.C. But that probably won't take place in the form of handwritten letters.

 

Until next week,

T


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