Saturday, April 27, 2013

Long Distance Relationships vs. Long Distance Friendships: Which One Is Harder?

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It’s funny how long-distance dating is a universally recognized challenge. Everyone has a strong opinion on it. Most of us have either attempted it once, or have supported a friend through their attempts. And hey, I agree. It is a freakin’ hard situation to be in. Because more often than not, one side will be more invested than the other. It almost often ends in tears, and leaves the rest of us swearing off it for good.

But what about long distance friendships? With all the traveling, abroad education and work experience we’ve been getting into all our lives, we make a lot of great friends who live far from us. Some live in other countries, some outright on other continents. Not that living on the far corners of one big country is easy, either. And what about those cities that have more people than most countries?

So how do you go from seeing someone on a regular basis to the obligatory “let’s keep in touch”?

How do you get used to having a really close friend a few doors away or in the same classes to meeting for a couple of times a year? Or just once in a couple of years?

Now, updating each other about our lives had never been easier. We have Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, e-mail, Skype...And hey, there are also cheap flights and accomodation.

But for every option to connect virtually or in real life, there are numerous setbacks. You might have a friend who detests social networking. You probably have a friend who never has money/time when you do and viceversa. Time and money hardly come together. Then there’s work, friends who actually live closer, romantic relationships, starting families, demanding jobs...

In theory, if you both really care about each other and want to make it work, you will make it work. In reality, even if you are adamant about ensuring your friendship will stand the test of time (and distance), neither of you are prone to crises of one kind of the other.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m so not claiming that I’m perfect.

I’ve been known to nag my abroad friends for not keeping touch online, where I have failed to keep in touch with those who live in the same city.

I’ve been known to complain about how romances change people and some friends just can’t multitask (some people are better friends when they are single- meaning they only seem to have time for two things at a time in life), and yet  I have cheated on many friends with work (-work being writing).

Yet with all our faults and virtues, and despite all the conspiracies and surprises life sends our way, we still manage to be more hopeful about our friendships.

I’ve never heard someone say “Nah, long distance friendships never work,” as opposed to the relationship version of that sentence. Hell, I agree with the relationship version of that sentence.

Funnily enough, two of my now long-distance friends were in a relationship. The guy ended it because he didn’t believe in you-know-what. She was so heart-broken. But guess what? The guy was a lot better at maintaining a long distance friendship than she was.

So here’s the deal: I don’t give up on my friendships without a fight. If they show me that they still care about me, regardless of my location and how often they can physically see me, I do my best to make sure we last.  I’d love to think that the people who left an impression on me won’t give up on me easily either.

I’m still skeptical about long-distance romantic relationships. But friendships?  I guess I just care too much.

How about you? Where do you stand when it comes to long distance relationships – whether its friendship or romance?

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