Are life-long friendships possible? In today’s day and age, I would say absolutely!
How do I know? Because I have several.
I distinctly remember a conversation as I was nearing my high school graduation, one where my parents forewarned me that once I graduated, I would probably lose contact with all of my friends. I refused to believe that and I’m very glad that I did.
How did I manage to not only stay in touch, but also regularly spend time with people I’ve known since high school, middle school, elementary school, and some even since kindergarten and preschool? I would say it’s due to a handful of key factors:
1. Strong bonding in adolescence
I’ve always had an affinity for instrumental music, so naturally one of the strongest bonding experiences I shared with my friends was marching band. If playing an instrument and marching and sweating in 100 °F heat while wearing 10 pounds of wool doesn’t bond you, then I don’t know what will. I mean, it was touch and go many times in those Scottish kilt uniforms at the State Fair; it was practically a near-death experience every year. I jest. But the camaraderie of overcoming challenges and achieving success cannot be denied.
2. Increased effort during large periods of separation
During the college years, my closest friends spread across the country, literally from Massachusetts to Oregon. We would reunite every holiday break and we used email and AIM (remember that one?) to stay in touch in between. As an added fun way to communicate, we also mailed a spiral notebook from person-to-person in a giant circle, just like we used to pass notes in class. I was so excited every time it arrived with the mailman, filled with 5 new hand-written entries. I would catch up on everyone’s stories, then I would add my entry and off it would go with the USPS all over again.
3. New bonding opportunities in adulthood
Getting into the full-swing of adulting, almost everyone returned home to Colorado after college. We reconnected as though no time had passed, some friendships even becoming closer and stronger than they ever were. We celebrated milestones together including house warmings, job promotions, marriages, and most recently bringing children into the world. But some of us also started exciting projects that continue on to this day: An active book club and a film production company that produced a feature-length romantic comedy as its first effort (no small feat).
4. Similar life trajectories / growing together
This is the one that has the largest element of happenstance and perhaps the least amount of control. People grow and change, which is both natural and good overall, but sometimes we grow apart. Some friendships are only meant to touch our lives for a particular season. As I’ve matured, I have finally accepted that this is okay. I used to fret so much more when friendships drifted or ended. It’s easier to understand now that there is always something to learn from those we meet, but many times it’s only necessary for the connection to last for a mere moment. Still other friendships eb and flow, all but vanishing entirely, and then rekindling and blooming all over again later.
5. Mutual desire and effort
I believe this is the biggest key of them all. We’ve all heard that relationships are a two-way street and that couldn’t be more true. One person cannot possibly carry the full weight of a relationship. When they try, it almost always fails. Both have to be engaged and interested in each other’s lives.
I feel very fortunate that I have so many life-long friendships to this day. The above are all big reasons why, but I definitely have to give honorable mention to the Internet, namely email and social media. I’m not sure how things might have been different if I had to rely on long distance phone calls and snail mail after high school. I see why the generations before ours would have had a much tougher time of it.