If you’ve ever moved long distance away from friends, chances are you’ve experienced what it’s like to maintain those friendships. And more often than not, you may have even had some faded friendships due to the strain of the distance. When I moved to New York a little over 4 years ago, I was anxious to leave my friends behind for that exact reason. And being that most of my friends were ones that I had met in my late twenties and early thirties, I was more determined than ever to hold on those friendships. I knew distance would play a factor, but I wanted to do whatever I could on my part to keep my closest girlfriends in my life. Because these wen’t just acquaintances, these were friendships in which we had all been through life’s highs and lows together. And when in you’re in your 30’s, good friends are hard to come by.
And like any relationship, I think if you can withstand the distance long term then you know those are your people. And luckily for me, distance has actually made my friendships stronger. Mostly due to the fact that we all make an effort to stay in touch. With that being said, it is a huge commitment for us to maintain friendships even though we are miles apart. It’s not easy and I definitely can feel like I’m missing out in their everyday lives sometimes. And because I know many of you may have in the past or currently experiencing this in your own friendships. I wanted to share some ways in which you can keep your friends closer even at a distance.
Make a phone call/text
How many times do we say to friends; “I’ve been thinking about you and just haven’t had a chance to call you”? Next time you have that thought, STOP and CALL that person. Because chances are if you don’t do it then, you’ll forget to later. If you’re not able to call, I personally love the voice message feature on iPhone that allows you to send a recorded voicemail via text message. It’s more personal than a text and easier to send when you don’t have a lot of time. And if you’re not a phone person or maybe time in your day doesn’t allow for a phone call, send a quick text just to say “I’m thinking of you, Let’s catch up soon!”. Or send a funny meme that you know your friend will get a laugh at. A simple message can help you and your friend be on each other’s radar, so to speak. This way it starts the conversation. And then you both can can be in touch to follow up on plans to have that catch up sesh you’ve been meaning to make time for.
Connect over FaceTime
Sometimes we just need that more personal connection with our friends especially if you don’t get to see them in person often. FaceTime or Video chat gives you both more of an opportunity to share real things going on in your lives. And it also gives you a visual of what that looks like whether it be their home life or day to day life. You can even schedule a virtual wine night once a week/month to make it feel like you’re “hanging out” in person. Seeing each other over video helps you both to feel like you’re able to still have quality time together even miles apart.
Schedule a specific date and time to catch up
Discuss a specific date and/or time every week or month to talk over the phone. This will hold you both accountable and more likely to make good on the promise to catch up. Even if life gets busy and something comes up on that specific date, make an effort to reschedule to a new date & time right away. We all have busy lives and realistically it can be hard to always make time for phone calls with friends. But I find that this helps to keep the momentum going by setting a specific goal.
This is so important, especially when you might not get to catch up as often as you used to. When in conversation, make sure to ask your friend detailed questions. Ask about their job, kids, significant others, passion projects and any other relevant things going on in their lives. Asking specific questions helps to get a feel of their every day life and the current events that they are experiencing. It’s all about making the most out of the time that you do have when catching up via phone, FaceTime or even text. The more thoughtful your questions are, it will help make you both feel invested in each other’s lives. And it also leaves you with follow up questions for the next conversation.
Send a note
Sending cards to friends is a great way to show them that you’re thinking of them. And it doesn’t have to be for any particular reason other than just saying, HELLO. Or you can also send cards for fun holidays like National Friendship Day. Handwritten notes are one of those things that always make you feel special when received by a friend. But if you have limited time and want something that is easy to send with a note attached, I love using INK cards. An app that allows you to send custom greeting cards straight from your cell phone and only costs $1.99 w/ shipping included! Sometimes the simplest gesture is the most appreciated.
Plan a trip in person
This may be a little harder to do with busy schedules, but I think it’s important to try and make an effort to have real face to face time. Make a plan to visit each other at least once a year. Or if you live really far away from one another, try to pick somewhere you can meet in the middle. Even if it’s only for a weekend. This will give you both something to look forward to, not to mention that you both can plan out the trip and discuss things you want to do when you get there. There is nothing better than spending real quality time your friend who you haven’t seen in what feels like forever.
What have you found helpful when it comes to long distance friendships?! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.