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Last night, on a whim, a friend I hadn’t seen in years joined me and a gathering of mutual friends in one of our living rooms. I hadn’t expected this reunion to occur, but it was interesting to talk to her and learn about her life again, especially since things have changed so much since we last saw each other. During this meeting, I discovered, to my shock, that she and her best friend since childhood were no longer speaking. For as long as I could remember, this other woman and her were attached at the hip and it seemed like nothing could break the bond that they shared. It made me wonder how much people can change over the years as relationships evolve and ties that once were strong become strained with the passing of time.

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Friendships, if not cared for like living entities, can become wilted and slowly disintegrate beneath your grasp, despite your best efforts to act like nothing is wrong. Since life is constantly moving and no relationship can stay the same forever, you have to be aware of what it takes to sustain a close bond and keep feeding it for its continued growth. While social networking sites have become interesting new ways to close the gap of distance,  there is definitely no substitute for human-to-human contact that creates intimacy in relationships. How can you best manage your closest friends and relationships with the rules constantly changing? Can continual care and interest truly override distance and time that threaten to ruin a bond?

One of the strongest ways to maintain close ties with someone is to be continually interested in their life. This has to be a genuine feeling on your end, however, or you can come off looking like you are nosing your way into their affairs. In order to stay on friendly terms with someone, giving them a quick call or sending them a simple text message like “How are you doing?” can go a long way in maintaining a relationship with them. Even if the conversations are not particularly detailed, there are always opportunities for you to suggest grabbing a meal or a cup of coffee together. Starting slow with friendly contact is a good way to build up trust and perhaps at some point, you two will be closer than you ever imagined possible!

Although showing interest in someone’s life is a good thing, there is definitely a line to be drawn between “consistent” and “annoying.” Leaving space in a relationship is something a lot of people, including myself, are prone to struggling with. How much communication is too much? It’s hard to say, as everyone’s different and one person’s “too much” might be another person’s comfortable area. The best way to judge how often you should be contacting someone is by how often they answer you. Are they the type of person who isn’t good at answering their text messages, but is perfectly fine in person? If their texting skills are above-par, though and they just aren’t quick to answer you, this might be a sign that you are being too eager and should give the messaging a break. Wait for them to come to you. If they aren’t good at returning your calls and you don’t see them often in person, chances are that they don’t view you as close of a friend as you do. Not everyone can be a close confidant, however, so just be selective in your communication and who you want to cultivate. Trial and error eventually brings you who you’re meant to know!

Another important thing to keep in mind in relationships is to be a good listening ear when they need a friend. As the old saying goes, to have a friend is to be a friend. A lot of people forget this simple idea of just being there for someone, despite how busy or stressed you may be. If the person you’re talking to thinks you’re not listening, perhaps because you’re tapping away at your smart phone or thinking of other things, then how is that a healthy relationship? You have to be there for the other person and that’s how friendship is strengthened. It does span both directions, however, and if they’re not there for you as much as you’re there for them, there is an imbalance of power that should be ironed out. Friendship is not a one-way street, so never forget – put in your end and they should reciprocate what you have given!

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A nice touch to keep in mind while managing friendships is to show them that you’re thinking of them, even if you’re far away or not in-touch as much as you should be. Remember to send them a birthday gift or write them a short message on their special day to let them know that you were thinking of them! Leaving small tokens of appreciation on their Facebook wall or sending them a text message when you’re reminded of them is a nice touch, as well. Although moderation and balance is the key, showing them that you wish to keep in contact with them is important and necessary to strengthen your bonds, despite distance or busy schedules.

While the technological age has made it easier than ever to keep up with people, remember what I said earlier – no form of faceless communication replaces the act of talking to someone in person. Try to be in their life as much as possible and make efforts to meet up with them just to hang out. True friendship is flying across the country to spend a few days with someone you care about, not how much you write on their Facebook wall. The idea of interpersonal relationships and intimacy is something that never grows old, so make sure you’re there for your friends, girls, regardless if they’re old comrades or new acquaintances! Nothing says being there for someone like the balancing effort of friendship between two people who care about each other.

I leave you with my favorite friendship quote, one that makes the most sense to me in terms of sincerity and depth. As Robert Southey says: “No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” It’s important to remember that when two people are invested in each other, being far away only makes the heart grow fonder. Even if you’re both jumping through hoops to keep in touch, the time you put into maintaining a friendship is what keeps the foundation solid. Never give up on someone that means something to you, as you never know what tomorrow brings and the people you keep close ties with are the ones that truly leave an impression on your life.

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How To Manage Your Friendships  was originally published on