Making a long distance friendship work takes time and energy from both people in order to stay strong. It doesn’t matter how long you’re separated from your friend, or how many miles are between you, if it’s a good friendship then it’s worth holding on to. There are some easy ways to keep the friendship up even from afar, so that next time you see each other it will be like you never even left each other’s side.
Define your friendship.
If you’re leaving to study abroad, transferring, going home for the summer, or moving to a different state, then goodbyes are inevitable. But not all friendships have to end just because you aren’t physically close by. Some of my best friends live in different states and countries, but I still feel supported by them because we both know how valuable we are in each other’s lives. Before you have to say goodbye to your friends and the physical distance between you grows, make sure you tell your friends how much they mean to you.
Often we don’t really have to define friendships like we might relationships. It’s usually pretty obvious how close you are with a friend, and the best friendships are the ones where it’s a two-way street. But when someone moves away, it can be difficult to stay caught up with their life or even stay relevant. So, to avoid a friend fading into the background because they’re no longer around, make sure you’ve defined what you are to each other and that you want to stay in touch because you’re still best friends.
Pick a time to talk.
If you schedule a weekly time to call or video chat, chances are no one will feel left behind and both people in the friendship will feel supported. I know life can get hectic, but if you have a specific time you know you’ll always connect, it makes it easier. This can of course change when class or work schedules change, but I know that it’s nice to have that connection each week. Sunday nights are always nice, as the weekend winds down and the new week hasn’t quite begun yet.
If you’re feeling super busy, and maybe even have more than one long distance friendship you want to keep up with, talk to them while you’re on the treadmill at the gym or going for a walk. Even a long car or bus ride works! It’s kind of like multitasking, but you can remain focused on your friend while you’re doing these activities.
Resort to old fashioned snail mail.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love getting letters in the mail from my friends! Being pen pals is a great way to make sure you stay up to date with each other’s lives, while being able to write down whatever is going on in your life, when you have the free time to do so. Often when writing, details will emerge that may not come out in conversation. It can also be quite therapeutic, to evaluate what’s going on in your life by writing it all down in the form of a letter to a long distance friend.
Or, try sending a journal back and forth to each other. This way it creates almost a time capsule of your long distance friendship, and the trials and joys you have both faced. Pick out a small journal that will be easy to stick in a padded envelope. Once you fill your friend in on what’s going on in your life, mail it to them so they can respond!
Express your appreciation.
A long distance friendship can be trying, so it’s important to have good communication and express your appreciation more than you would with a friend you see every day. When you’re long distance, it’s often harder to show you are grateful, so instead you have to say it! Even just sending a text is a nice gesture, especially if you know your friend is having a bad day. You can also express appreciation by sending some money on Venmo for a coffee on an exam day, or send a little gift in the mail, just because.
This may be harder if your long distance friendship spans continents or countries, but if it’s just a few states then meeting up shouldn’t be too hard. Choose a spot in the middle, or switch off playing host. Some of my favorite college memories are from visiting friends at other campuses, it was always so fun to see where they were living and meet all of their new friends! Plus, that will only make your relationship stronger if you know all the people in their life.
If you’re in college, try planning your visit around your friend’s birthday or a sports game where your schools are playing each other. If you’ve already graduated, figure out how much PTO you have and make a long weekend out of visiting your friend. The sacrifice will surely be worth it! If you both have the itch to travel, then pick a destination you both want to see and go there together! There’s nothing like traveling with friends.
Remember why you became friends in the first place.
When things get tough, this is always a good thing to remember. Maybe you’ve had miscommunications or you don’t talk as much as you would like to, but regardless of that you still want what’s best for your friend and your relationship. Think back to when you became friends, or why you bonded in the first place! Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that in the midst of everyday life, but when you have a great friend in your corner it just makes life so much better. Remind yourself of this with photos of you and your friend somewhere you’ll see them every day, and remember to be grateful for how this friend has affected you.
Have you been in a long distance friendship? Share your own tips in the comments below for staying close, when the distance between you feels far!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.