Remote Friendships

Weaving connections with people far from my body but close to my heart.

For context:

I've been location-independent since 2017. I love the freedom of that lifestyle, but it comes with a price—most of the people dear to my heart are not in my physical proximity.

It took me some trial and error to figure out how to grow long-term intentional relationships, but I'm finally feeling like I'm getting a good hang of it.

If you feel like you're missing some deep human connection, here's what you can do.

Reach Out To People You Already Know, that You Feel Like Reaching Out To

This was a completely intuitive process.

One day I thought: 'Hey, I should reach out to some people because I'm feeling kinda lonely'. Day after I wrote a few messages. Boom.

Some people replied and we had a call. Some send back a nice message and that was it. And others never got back to me. No hard feelings—this is the famous natural selection at work. Let it run its natural course.

Note to self: unfortunately some amazing people are bound to "fall through the cracks" of my awareness. It makes me feel sad, but it's simply unavoidable. The good news is, that if you are one of them, you can simply reach out to me and we can rekindle our relationship. I leave it up to you.

Finding the Rhythm

With some people I could feel a mutual sense of a ”connection match”. That's a good sign. The next step is to discover a frequency of the interactions that would enhance our relationship, taking into consideration our individual context (existing commitments, depth of connection, pace of life, etc.).

Sometimes a month in between calls is a perfect interval, but sometimes waiting for a few months makes the interactions feel richer, as more time had passed and we can focus on the macro perspective of our lives, rather than getting sucked into daily things.

Here are my conclusions so far:

  • Monthly calls are great for close friends, whom you want to stay close to, see their progress, and actively help each other grow.

  • Quarterly calls are great for people with whom you enjoy a nice long and deep conversation, but don't necessarily feel like you want to chat to them very often. That doesn't mean that they are less of your friends, or anything like that—it's just a different cycle. Expect a more bird's eye perspective during the talk.

  • Yearly calls (twice a year also falls into this category) feel like a different kind of thing, but my thoughts on that are not clarified yet, as it takes a few years to have a few rounds with one person. So far, I'm enjoying them very much.

I guess the key take-away is that it's okay to have different intervals of the calls. Experimenting, as always, is the key to find what works.

Note to self: At the end of a call reflect on how long we should wait before the next one. And it's totally fine if you don't feel like having another one at all. It's not "you or them", it's the combination of where you both are right now (plus everything else that you both have going on).

Oh, and during this whole process I’ve also realised that I really dislike video calls and started to move into voice-only calls. There's nothing quite like going for a walk in the woods with a soothing voice of a human being you love nourishing your eardrums.