How Do You Keep in Touch with Friends?

During my last day of high school, we were passing yearbooks around and scrawling melodramatic goodbyes when a teacher glanced over my shoulder and said, “It’s so nice you all have cell phones now to stay in touch.” At the time, I remember dismissing the sentiment. Of course we’re going to stay in touch, I thought. But as I’m getting older, one thing is starting to ring truer and truer: it’s hard to stay in touch with friends. Even in the age of texting and social media. People slip away. People have babies. They get married. They move across the country. They land a job with crazy hours.

Still, some friends are just really good at it, and I try to always take note. For example…

-During her going away party, my friend Liz brought along a little notebook and asked everyone to jot down their addresses so she could send letters (from grad school in Seattle!). We passed the notebook around while drinking beers and noshing on grilled corn, and while it didn’t make the goodbye any easier, it was such a sweet sentiment.

-My friend Natalie started a “Mid Week Check In” in which every Wednesday, we text each other for updates, everything from “I’m having a shitty week,” to “DISCOVERED THE CUTEST WINE BAR LAST NIGHT.” It’s been such a nice, low-pressure way to stay in touch, and I’ve found that it’s also a way for us to check in on ourselves, the way you might when you plop down on a therapist’s couch every week and finally give yourself a second to reflect.

-My friend Sam keeps a calendar at his desk with nothing on it except his friend’s birthdays (better than Facebook!)

The other day, my mom was going through old things and found a box of letters from her close friend in Norway; they wrote each other for years (still do!). Sometimes I think the more convenient life becomes through technology and social media, they lazier we become. And it scares me! How do you stay in touch with friends? I would love to know!

“It’s called having friends, choosing each other, getting found, being fished out of the rubble. It blows you away, how this wonderful event ever happened — me in your life, you in mine.” – Anne Lamott

4 thoughts on “How Do You Keep in Touch with Friends?

  1. These are all great ideas. I’ve found the two biggest challenges to maintaining friendships is moving and babies, both of which can be wonderful changes to life, but make keeping up on a regular basis more difficult. That said, I’ve been keeping up with a good friend who is now a mother to three through email for the past 8 years since I first moved away. It sounds boring, but I have these long email chains that go back years–it makes me feel like I have a Jane Austen-style correspondence with a dear friend. We share mundane details of our lives, news, vent our frustrations, ponder life’s big questions. I think we both find it a bit easier than the phone because it can be easily snuck into the day (including at work) and it allows for a longer conversation than texting, which we do as well.

  2. In college, during a really busy semester, I started keeping a to-do list of friends and family I hadn’t talked to in a while. I kept them listed on a post-it note taped to my desk, and if I needed a break from work or found myself with a free afternoon I would go down the list, reaching out to friends at the top first. Once I caught up with someone, either via phone call or by scheduling a time to hang out, I would move them back down to the bottom of the list. Now, I live across the country from most of my friends and family and even my friends in the same city are so insanely busy that I’ve picked up the practice again. I keep a to-do list of people on my phone, and I have a recurring reminder that goes off every Sunday evening (because what am I doing then, really??) to call/text someone from the list! If it means I get to have a quick phone call or I’m consciously reminded to finally set a date to grab that drink with them, then they get moved back down to the bottom and everything starts over. I also automatically move them back down to the bottom if I end up seeing them unexpectedly or they reach out to me, so the order changes every time and it doesn’t feel too robotic or regimented. The system is completely flexible and literally none of my friends know I do it but I love the conscious reminder each Sunday to reach out to someone I love and miss even if it’s just a quick text check-in. Added bonus of making the end of the weekend seem a little sweeter.

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