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Moving friendships: what to do with all the people you’re leaving behind

Moving friendships: what to do with all the people you’re leaving behind

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to moving. Usually we think about the packing, managing logistics, and setting up a new place. The bigger or further the move the more complicated it can get. But there’s something else that factors into a big move, and it’s the relationships left behind. 

I love moving.
I love change.
I love packing. 

I get excited at the prospect of a big move, and have moved frequently. Getting to pick out a new apartment, and thinking about all the new adventures I’ll have is so much fun. At my core, I am an optimist, so thinking about the future is simply so exciting, even if it means I have to move, because I love moving!

I also hate moving.
I hate having to get rid of stuff.
I hate having to plan.
And I really hate having to say goodbye. 

Every time, the worst part for me is leaving my friends and loved ones. It’s never easy, but I’ve learned a lot over the years about the best ways to say goodbye. Because believe me there are wrong ways to move away. 

If you’re moving and are going to be transitioning some of your relationships from in-person to long-distance this is for you. I have been the one moving, and the one being moved away from and both can sometimes suck. 

So let me lend you my expertise as you gear up for your next big adventure. 

As we go forward I’m going to be using the word “intentional” a lot. It means purposeful, and it’s very important when it comes to trying to maintain relationships over long distance

The reality is that it’s probably going to take a lot more effort to stay in touch. I went from living four blocks away from my best friends, to living 600 miles away. I can’t pop over for drinks or a walk anymore, so I have to be intentional with keeping up with them and their lives. 

So, without further ado, let’s talk about the best practices when you’re moving and leaving some in-person friendships behind. 

Unhaul some friendships

This might sound a little harsh, but moving is a great time to get rid of things that don’t fit you anymore. Yes, that does include friendships. 

This is a great time to think about the people you want to keep in your life, and also decide who it’s okay to leave behind. If you want to maintain your friendships, it’s important to be intentional. Trying to maintain a relationship with someone you don’t actually like that much anymore isn’t going to serve you, or them. 

When I moved most recently I knew there were people I really wanted to maintain contact with, but some I was okay not to be in touch with anymore. 

And those people, I just told them I was moving once I knew.

The others, the ones who I wanted to keep in my life, I went through all of the following steps.

And it’s wild to see how well it’s been working: I’m still in near constant contact with the people I wanted to still be close with, and those I was okay letting go I hear from, or reach out to, only every now and then.

Give people plenty of notice 

Once you know who you want to stay in touch with, let them know pretty much as soon as you know you’re moving. It’s best to start even when you haven’t fully made the decision yet. Giving your friends a “Hey I might be moving, but I don’t know for sure yet” is going to be a whole lot nicer than a “oh by the way, I’m moving next week.” 

When I moved recently, I told my friends weeks before I had even made up my mind. They gave me tons of support and advice and it made making the decision so much easier knowing I had their love no matter what. At the end, when I had made up my mind they were sad to see me go, but knew all my reasoning behind it and it made saying goodbye a lot easier, because they had been a part of the process. 

Ask for help and advice 

Moving sucks! And having people who love you help out is going to make it worlds easier.  

So get your friends involved in the process. Invite them over to hang out while you pack, or even to help you. Ask them about their moving do’s and dont’s. It makes things a lot easier to have extra brains and hands working on big projects, and it’s a great excuse to still see each other throughout the move. 

My closest friends were people who had also moved from different states, so they had tons of useful advice. They gave me all the hot tips about renting trucks, making a schedule, and gave me a bunch of boxes they had left over from their last move. They made it such a breeze for me, and I will always be grateful. Plus it was just fun to have them over while I packed. It made things a lot quicker. 

Talk about a visit

Try to find a time to visit each other as soon as possible. Even if it’s theoretical and nobody actually books a flight. It sets the intention that you’ll keep in touch. Thinking about your future together is the best way to prove to each other that you are going to commit to a long-distance friendship. 

After my latest move, I talked about future visits with my friends. It was fun to dream up our possible adventures together. We also were super intentional about following through, and they were able to come for a visit just last month. It felt like old times, and I’m already looking forward to a time where I get to go visit them. 

My best advice is to not put all the traveling on one person. When possible, plan to trade off who’s hosting so it’s on the both of you to make it happen, and the cost of flights and gas aren’t only on one. 

Since my friends were here last, next time I can, I’m going to see them. 

Have a planned last hang out

Make a plan for when your last in-person hangout will be. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be really simple, but be intentional about it. Sure it might be a little sad and awkward, but it’s important to mark big life events. 

Saying goodbye is one of my least favorite things in the whole world. In fact, I cried my whole walk home from my friend’s place after we hung out for the last time. I’m glad it was late so no one passed me on the sidewalk because I was absolutely balling my eyes out. 

And still, I’m glad we had a last hurrah, because the alternative would have been so anti-climatic. Instead I got to see them one last time and officially close that chapter of my life, even though I’m bringing those people with me into the new one. 

Whatever you do, try to avoid a “Whoops! That’s the last time I’ll see them!” 

In my experience, It makes it a lot harder to be intentional about your future together if there’s no clear transition. 

Make a plan for keeping in touch and stick to it

If you’re someone who likes consistency, find a time where you will call them every week or do something that you both love together virtually. Find a time and frequency that works for you. Then do your absolute best to stick to that plan. Weekly calls, becoming pen pals, or keeping up with the same TV shows is a great way to build in time to be with your long-distance friends. The hard part is actually sticking to the plan. 

A lot of us have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, even when it comes to people we love dearly. So do your best to fight it and reach out to your friends regularly. 

I am not a person big on consistency so a weekly plan won’t work for me. Instead I do my best to respond to texts as frequently as possible, and send a message whenever I find myself missing my friends. I keep pictures of them on my phone, and do my best to keep other reminders of them near me. It’s a great way to remind myself to reach out often. So if you’re like me, do your best to have reminders around you if you can’t make a weekly plan workout. 

Little things can mean just as much as big things

Remember that it isn’t just the big things you should keep your friends updated on. The weird thing about moving is that they used to get all the little updates on your life  because you saw them way more often. Moving makes it a lot harder to keep up with the small things but little life events are just as important as big ones. 

Sometimes I know it can feel silly to send a “look how cute my outfit is today” text, but even something as small as a fit check is a great way to keep in touch, especially if they would have seen you in the outfit anyway. Don’t be embarrassed to update on the small things, because the small things add up.

For example, while writing this I sent a message to my friend about wanting cheese curds from the restaurant by their place. Is that important? Nope! But it’s those little things that remind you of your time together that are going to make all the difference in the world. 

All this to say, moving is hard, but don’t make it hard on your friends as well. One of the best things about living in the time we do is that it is so easy to stay in touch with people online. Whether you just stay in touch over text, have watch party movie nights, or connect over video games, there’s no end to the ways you can maintain friendships even after a move. 

One last thing

 It is important to maintain your valued relationships after you move, but don’t let that stop you from forging new connections. Keep developing friendships no matter where you are, and if you move around a lot like I do, soon you’ll have a whole web of friends all over the world!  

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