Let’s face it: if you have a true, genuine friendship, you have something that is seriously coveted these days. Over time, and with shared experiences, friendships that survive distance, years and circumstances all fall into their own separate rhythms. You have some friends that you talk to every day and tell all of your embarrassing details. Then there are others you hardly talk to with your voice on the phone, but you regularly send memes and ask advice about things through words.
This pandemic, with its guidelines and stipulations, has changed what some of those friendship parameters and rhythms look like. I’ve had to find different ways to fill some of my own friendship voids. I’ve also had to adjust to the friendship needs of some people who are very close to me. Here are some necessary things to consider as we all embark on the journey of reframing our personal connections while enduring COVID-19.
One key to effectively meet others’ friendship needs – and have them meet yours – is knowing who you are and how you best operate. For more introverted people, perhaps this time quarantined has allowed necessary introspective thinking. The time in solitude has probably provided much-needed quietude and moments to reflect and recharge. In a pre-COVID-19 world where life was always hectic, an extended time to oneself would most likely be heaven.
That’s really great for them. It’s just not me.
Though I knew it before, the pandemic truly showed me how much of a socially-driven person I am. I get life and energy from spending time with friends and loved ones. Much of my personal growth and inspiration comes from being a conversationalist. I love being around people! Plus, I’ve always been an auditory and hands-on learner. Sitting silently and quietly reading has never been my thing. I need to hear things and interact with people and tangibles. It’s how I’m programmed naturally.
Neither personality is more right, wrong, better or worse than the other. What’s important is that you recognize who you are and what you need. Be honest with yourself and with others about those needs. Pretending I loved weeks alone with myself was never true to who I really am. Knowing that about myself allowed me to advocate for my needs, both to myself and to my friends, in order to cope well while quarantined. I definitely think this is an important first step in adjusting friendships during these times.
Technology has played a much more necessary role in this quarantine time, and it will undoubtedly impact person-to-person interaction as we all reconsider our friendship needs. Programs like Zoom and FaceTime help us to see our loved ones and simulate “getting together ” when we can’t physically be together. Video conferencing tools like these, Skype and others have been lifesavers for families and friends this year.
I appreciate all those video programs offer, but they’re not my preferred method of communicating. I’ve had to use Zoom several times a day every day. Being on camera for hours on end can be exhausting, and Zoom fatigue is very real. Because I’m a multitasker, I like to be connected to listen and talk. But I also want the freedom to hit mute and check on my kids or do light cleaning at the same time. That’s so much more easily done with a voice call versus FaceTime.
That being said, I don’t shun technology at all! There are so many ways it can help you stay in touch in our new normal. I even know some guys who get together virtually to chat while playing video games. Whatever works! Whether it’s a FaceTime chat, a voice call or a casual game of NBA2K21, discover what mutually works for you and your cherished relationships and go for it.
Adjusting your friendship needs is so important now because safety and personal comfort zones have been put in such a different light with the coronavirus. Flexibility and understanding have to be moral imperatives due to the fact that “change” has and will continue to be a priority for us all. And do you want to know an easy way to deal with these changes? Realize that they’re not about you.
We’re all working jobs remotely, and many kids are still dealing with remote learning. Time, as commodious as it seems, has disrupted all of our routines. Some of us have gone from having Sunday mimosas every week to having the kids and significant partners around 24/7. Life, in many respects, isn’t about what we want to do necessarily. Rather, it’s been reduced to a focus on what we can or need to do. Thinking that way, hopefully you’ll recognize that adjusting and changing for these shelter-in-place times shouldn’t be taken personally.
Some of the carefree flexibility we had in our lives may not be possible now. I know I haven’t always had happy-go-lucky kids skating in the house while taking business calls. Neither have I had to talk in code because little ears are around. But that’s my life for the moment. I’m still the fun friend I have always been, but I have to work within quarantined parameters that aren’t always convenient. It won’t always be this way, but it’s a present reality. While life is different right now, good friendships understand that and stay the same.
The True Root
It’s easy to see why these new life circumstances we’re all living in could make it difficult to keep our typical friendship rhythms. However, it is not impossible to maintain trusted friendships. You just have to get creative, be honest about your needs, understand your friends’ new boundaries and set your own. We’re all having touch-and-go days. It’s so important not to let social distance make us feel distant from our good friends. Making the necessary adjustments in our friendships will help us all to get to the root of what friendship truly means: having support for one another in our greatest time of need.