With everything going on in our world these days, friends are essential to our health. I don’t have family nearby, so maintaining my friendships is especially important, especially those friendships with history. It takes effort, but staying in contact with as many of our friends as possible is a priority for most of us.

In fact, I’ve put a name to this and say I’m dating my friends. Not so weird since I write a lot about relationships and find myself skewing almost everything in life to dating.

A few years back, I wrote an article about the quest for a literary agent, and compared that elusive search to dating.

Same with tile guys. I considered all candidates from the point of view of a woman dating online. Did the guy arrive late? How savvy were his social skills? Did he put on little plastic booties before coming into my house?

Friends with History Are the Best

When I needed a real estate agent, though, I turned to a friend, in spite of the old advice about keeping business separate from friendship. We went back 20 years, and there’s nothing like history for cutting through the stickiness that crops up with tricky stuff like selling your house.

She told me, for example, my room color choices (pale pink, please don’t laugh) were turning buyers off. I listened, we repainted, and the place sold.

Recently, I had a two-hour phone conversation with two friends I originally met in Crete, Greece over 20 years ago. One now lives in Nova Scotia, and the other lives in Crete.

There’s nothing like going back, way back, remembering the old stories, the kind where you had to be there. Having a belly laugh over the time I spit out my wine at dinner in an outdoor restaurant because my friend made me laugh? No one but your oldest friend can share that with you.

I recently connected with a friend I’ve known over 50 years, and for the first time in a long while, we exchanged life stories, catching up on the personal stuff, remembering our childhood adventures, talking about my mom, whom she remembers fondly.

Multiple Dates Are Great

These moments warm our hearts, ease our minds, help us wind down. Keeping our spirits up by dating a different friend every day is as important as eating well and exercising.

“All we really have is people – nothing else matters,” says my friend Patricia.

And having a couple of back-to-back dates is not only acceptable, it gives you energy.

“You get something different from every one of your friends,” another friend says, adding that with good friends, “There’s nothing you can do that is horrible; nothing you can’t say.”

Like real dating protocol, there are rules of etiquette to follow when dating your friends and acquaintances. Here are a few suggestions for making your phone and Zoom get-togethers with friends you cherish.

Here are my 8 suggestions for connecting with your friends.

Call or Text with an Upbeat Story or Anecdote

Even a simple recipe or book suggestion, or the latest and greatest offering on Netflix or Hulu helps. Share your recipe for a disinfectant spray that can be made with bleach, soap, and water. We all need a break from the current news alerts.

Don’t discount acquaintances whom you’d normally never have on your daily radar. Reach out, ask how they’re doing.

Zoom’s Group Date Option

A group date with friends on Zoom is a popular way to get together. But if the talk about the latest developments in the news gets too heavy to handle, feel free to leave. You need a break from reality, and the other participants may not be on your wavelength.

No Judgment

I don’t know about you, but my friends and I joke that many of us will come out of this with our natural – and by this I mean gray or white – hair color revealed. That goes for eyebrows and whatever else gets done in the salon.

Isolation, especially for those of us who live alone, means letting go of some of the special grooming (nails, brows, and more) that’s a part of our routine. Which is why you’ll want to keep those friends – the nonjudgmental good friends – close.

Offer Emotional Support

Pick a friend each day and offer emotional support. And if you’re having a tough time, call a friend. Reaching out is important, more so now than ever before. Many of my friends are happy texting, but I’d rather talk, so when I’m feeling needy, I’ll pick someone I can count on to lift me up.

Exercise with a Friend

My sister and I yoga-Skype. She tweaks and corrects my poses. With the two of us egging one another on, we’re more likely to endure a sustained workout than we’d be on our own, and it’s certainly more fun chatting to one another and catching up at the end of the workout.

Share the Small Stuff

In my writing group of seven, we’ve started sharing our days, however quaint that sounds. Even pedestrian stuff like a trip to Trader Joe’s, a really great Netflix series or movie, or a special take-out meal (to break up the tedium of cooking) to support a local restaurant.

Or the joy of a newly-published piece. All this adds up, enriching our days. And we’re having our first Zoom meeting this week.

It doesn’t matter what you chat about with your friends and loved ones. What’s important is the sharing. Make someone laugh or smile today.

Appreciate Your Memories

Travel down memory lane with an old friend you haven’t visited with in a long time. Facebook Messenger is great for text-chatting or talking. My friend in Crete sounds as if she’s only two doors away – on my very own street.

Dating? Consider Distance Dating

Consider distance dating. According to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a podcast titled “Dating at a Distance,” it’s not impossible to establish a connection, even in these tough times.

Anyone who’s spent time online dating knows it’s not easy. So, how do you connect using only a screen, develop closeness without touch, and form attachments in the Covid era? Dr. Gupta stresses the idea that “We are all in this together.”

When I heard this on the podcast, it rang true, and set us apart from all other online dating that’s gone before. People reach out in more creative ways, and the podcast gives examples.

The Big Message

The big message here? Find the connections that resonate in your life and pursue them. No matter the type of relationship, cultivate your friends, make dates, and go out of your way to connect. You’ll feel so much better, every day.

Do you have ideas on dating, and ways of keeping up with your friends? Have you hosted lawn parties or a Zoom Game Evening? What’s helping you keep your spirit up? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Let's Have a Conversation!