There are people in our lives who make up the pieces of our hearts. Family, friends and lovers who cave into our being and make us love deeply. But how do we know that love is going to last forever? Can time and distance leave empty spaces in our lives that get filled in by someone else? Or, are there people in our lives who are irreplaceable?
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about this in the context of my move overseas, and how few people have reached out wanting to spend time with me while I am here. He has made a cross-country move in the past and had some perspective for me.
At first, it is easy to keep in contact with people. But the longer you are gone, other people move on with their lives without you. They fill in the spaces in their lives that you used to hold. They make new friends and new connections. They don't have time for you anymore.
This can happen as we go through different phases of our lives. Like from high school to college, from college to career, and from career to marriage. It is life transitions as much as moves that create space between us.
But, there are also people that you can come back to like no time has passed. People who do hold space for us, and allow room in their lives for us no matter how long it has been, or how far we have gone.
How do you know if someone has become a piece of your heart that will last forever? How do you know if love will last across time and distance?
I think a lot of times it is family, and friends who have become like family over the years. Those are the people who stay. They are the people who still make an effort no matter how long you have been gone.
I have a couple of best friends who I keep in contact with overseas, and who have made time for me since I have been back. We have spent time apart before, and we have been able to come back together this time as well.
What is it that creates that space when you are apart from someone? How do you keep holding space in your heart and in your life for people when they are gone?
One of mine is a childhood friend that I have known since I was five. We are always able to reconnect over the years, no matter how much time has gone by or how much distance has been between us. We still come back together like it was yesterday, and we have the same bond that we have always had.
According to Psychology Today, there are 8 reasons why friendships drift apart:
Mutual decision after a conversation
Mutual drifting apart
A falling out
One side pulls away (with conversation)
One side pulls away without conversation (ghosting)
New variable leads to disconnection
When you are moving away like I have, many of these variables come into play. I clearly pulled away through physical distance, which is also a new variable and circumstantial change. So it is no surprise that so many people have drifted apart after my time away.
If you are considering a big move, this can be something to consider. You will want to decide if you can put in the work to maintain your friendships over space and time.
It brings up the question, if you are still willing to put the work into your relationships with people that you aren't seeing on a daily basis.
Like the relationship with my daughter and my best friends. I have made sure to call them regularly, and even send postcards throughout my travels to keep them in the forefront of my mind while I have been gone. With video chats, it is easier than ever to keep track of friendships when you are far away than it was in times past.
Still, once you are absent from people, you can expect some of your friendships to drift, and some people to not be as close as they were in the past.
Coping with your feelings
If you are in this situation, you can fill in those holes with new relationships as time passes. However, if you are really struggling with the loss of a relationship, you may want to consider speaking to your friend, and if that doesn't repair the damage to the relationship, speaking to a therapist.
A therapist can help you navigate all of the difficult feelings that are going through your heart and your mind.
Some people, even when they aren't in your life anymore, will still hold a special place in your heart forever. This can be the case with people who have drifted, or people who have died. Some people touch your heart and your life in a way that the memory of them will live on with you forever.
Other times though, relationships can be more 'situationships' and it is this type of relationship that is more likely to drift. This can be like after a break up, or if you are work friends and stop working at a job together. You may try to keep in touch for a while, but after a while, these relationships can be replaced.
If you want to preserve a relationship with someone over time and distance, it is important that you consistently put in the effort. Be the first to call, text or send pictures. This way, it shows the other person that you are willing to put in the effort to maintain the relationship.
Also, if you are moving away like I did, you can go out of your way to have a conversation before you leave about how you are going to keep in touch with people. This can help to reassure people that your relationship is important, and you can be sure to invest the effort.