Your ability to connect with people is your superpower.
It’s incredible how you have a 50-year-old best friend from China and an 18-year-old pal from New York.
Having a social circle that resembles the United Nations is marvelous to have. You get to have friends to enjoy a good meal with everywhere you go.
What can get frustrating is maintaining these friendships.
It makes me feel so embarrassed whenever a friend remembers my birthday but I forget theirs.
How do you let all your friends know that you care about them without checking Facebook Birthdays every single day? Because let’s be honest- you do not have the mental energy to check up on Sue and Johnson at all times.
You just wish there was a customer relationship management system that can automatically send messages of love 24/7- “Hi I am still here and I care for you.”
I am a third culture kid myself and enjoy making friends with people from different cultures.
In my professional life, I am naturally drawn to international groups so that leads me to having new contacts from ten different time zones after each conference.
I find making friends easy, but sustaining them is the real art.
What is the point of sustaining friendships if it is that difficult?
Because we are social creatures and we need each other to thrive in this world. Having close relationships increases your lifespan at a rate equal to that of quitting smoking (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010).
You are worth a life of joy and social fulfillment.
Let’s dive into five ways you can sustain friendships wherever they are in the world.
1. Spend One Hour Mapping Out Birthdays on Google Calendar
Instead of spending every waking hour clicking on Facebook, spend one-hour mapping out the birthdays of people you care about on your Google Calendar. What’s impressive about Google Calendar is you can set the reminder to Yearly. You can also use a physical planner and copy over the dates to the following year.
2. Postcard Best Friends
Have a list of friends you want to set postcards to written in your planner or online planning system. Sending a heartfelt note once a year or once a quarter will surely make your friend feel like she’s valued. Giving a physical letter has an extra touch of effort in it, especially now that online texting services are so prevalent.
3. Speak Words of Positivity During Interactions
How can you make your rare hangouts more memorable? It is okay if you only get to see your friend once every two years. Quality over quantity. I have a friend I haven’t met in four years, and we bonded for sixteen hours during our reunion.
Think of how you can add value to your friends’ lives in the rare times that you get to talk to them. Be present and give the moment all that you got.
4. Share Opportunities
Take mental notes as to the strengths of your friends so that you can remember them when you are out and about socializing. Giving opportunities to them is a great way to support them even when you are far away. You can connect your old friends and new friends together and help everyone in your circle grow and be better.
5. Calendar It
Place it in your calendar or it does not exist. List down the people you want to connect with and schedule them in your calendar.
There are people you want to talk to more frequently and others where once is enough to fuel the friendship. You can divide your friend list into three- yearly, quarterly, and monthly. Your diligence in creating continuous rapport is your contribution to your bond with your friend.
You Can’t Please Everyone
Sometimes you can give your all but people will still think that your effort is not enough.
It’s normal to feel like you’ve done something wrong when you can’t be there the way they want you to be. However disappointed they may feel, I want you to understand that self-love comes first. You get to evaluate whether you can really commit to communicating in the way they want to.
If yes, make an effort. If not, set the boundaries.
Know that your friends’ reactions are not in your control. You are doing your best.
Grow friendships from a place of joy, not resentment.
The real friendships will stay.
Reference: Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine, 7(7), e1000316. https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316
Art: Lover in a Beret, Picasso