How to Maintain Friendships

When we decided to leave New Jersey, it was easy to leave our house.  It was easy to leave our jobs.  It was easy to leave our neighborhood.  It was NOT easy to leave our friends.   

I’ve always believed that friendships are very important.  When times are good you need friends.  And when times are bad you need friends.  We’ve been blessed over the years to develop some wonderful friendships with some wonderful families and individuals.  

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from our friends, the Carvers, from New Jersey.  They were taking a camping trip to Kentucky, and wanted to know if they could come and visit us.  We were thrilled that they were coming to stay for a couple of days!

We hadn’t seen or spoken to the Carvers in years, and yet I can speak for both families when I say that we are still really great friends.  It got me thinking about what is involved with maintaining  friendships despite being separated by distance.  

Shared Memories – The basis for any good friendship is having something to talk about.  When there is a rich pool of shared memories, conversations are vibrant and easy.  You don’t need a lot of money to create shared memories.  Neither the Carvers nor the Jonases had much money when we grew our friendship.  But we stored up many memories as we shared meals and trips to the park.  We also spent time together at church activities and watching each other’s children.  So when we got together, we never ran out of conversation as there were so many good memories to re-live.

Balance of Give and Take – Good friendships that last for years are balanced.  There is a give and take so that no side feels like they are always giving and the other family is always taking.  Friendships that last for years will always have shifts as one family or individual undergoes difficult situations.  But over time it will balance out.  It is important that you develop friendships that nourish you and not just drain you.

Forgiveness – If you open up yourself to someone in friendship, they are guaranteed to hurt you sooner or later.  We all make mistakes and say things that we regret.  The trick to a lasting friendship is being very quick to forgive.  With long distance friendships, this applies to forgiving the other person for not keeping in touch if that was something that you tried to do.

Respect – People are always changing.  If you get together with a friend that you haven’t seen in years, don’t expect them to be exactly the same.  They will have grown and may develop thoughts and feelings that you don’t necessarily agree with.  Respect your friends for the way they have grown and changed and know that you have changed as well.

When we got together with our friends, it was a very joyful reunion.  The children didn’t really remember each other much, but they quickly rectified that.  We built a lot of new shared memories while they were here.

We piled everyone into the sprinter:

for a trip to the ice cream place (I wanted to get a photo of everyone eating their ice cream but by the time the last ones got their ice cream the first ones were already finished!): 

 Then we went to show them the new property and our new creek:

Followed by McDonald’s:

And of course we had to have some oreos with goat milk:

You may have noticed that I didn’t include time in my list. Don’t get me wrong, the more time you can put into a relationship, the more benefits you will reap.   I think it takes time to develop a friendship, but once it is established, I don’t think time is a mandatory factor.  

I believe this because we’ve lived in Indiana for eight years now.  We’ve seen the Carvers twice in the past eight years before this visit.  Once when they came to visit us 6 years ago and once when I briefly visited New Jersey.  In all that time, we haven’t spoken on the phone or kept up on Facebook.  And yet when they arrived we all felt like we had parted yesterday and were were free to build new shared memories.

That’s the best kind of friendship!



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  • Hannah

    PJ, thanks for your encouraging words. As one that always tries to keep in contact with my closest friends despite miles that separate us, this is such a good encouragement to me. The forgiveness that you mentioned couldn’t have come at a better time; it was a good reminder that I need to realize that some people just aren’t into keeping in touch but the moment we are reunited it is like we never missed a beat. Your post helped remind me to value that and be so thankful for the memories and friendship we share and not focus on the fact that a friend doesn’t make as much effort while apart. Blessings!

    • goatmilkstuff

      Hi Hannah,

      I’m so glad that the post encouraged you!  I have definitely found that real friendships can survive that kind of separation.  And it makes the reunions and catching up so much sweeter!