Stay close despite the distance: Long-distance friendships 101
What I miss more than anything about college is the proximity to all of my friends. Now that I’ve graduated and moved two states away, it’s more important than ever for me to maintain and strengthen the relationships that have nurtured me and helped me grow. It’s not easy to stay close to people when you’re physically far apart, but here are some of my tips for staying tight with your far-away buds.
Find a rhythm of communication and don’t skip a beat.
Each friendship has its own cadence of communication. For some people, it’s every day. For others, it’s every week or month or a few times a year. You know this rhythm—it’s that length of time before you notice that you haven’t talked to that person in a while. It takes time and effort to keep up this stream of communication, but it’s worthwhile to keep your friends looped into your life and vice versa. If I’ve noticed that I haven’t talked to someone in a while, I’ll reach out.
Group chats are a great way to keep in touch with a group of friends and preserve that group dynamic even while apart. I have group chats on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and GroupMe (a group chat texting app for those of us with Androids). We send each other a lot of memes, but there’s also life updates and existential questions and helping each other figure out this post-grad life stuff together. Just don’t forget to keep in touch with each of your friends individually as well, because the dynamic can be different (but equally precious!) in a group and one-on-one.
Take things out of text.
Voice and video are the next best thing to seeing each other in person, so find some time for a good old Skype or phone call. You can schedule calls if that’s more your style or just try to work them in when you remember. Social media messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat have made it really easy start a spontaneous video or voice call. My best friend also likes to call me or other friends when she’s driving long distances, which can be multiple times a week—I think this is a cool way to use some “lost time” when you wouldn’t be doing anything else to catch up with people.
Nothing beats seeing your friends in person, so if you have the means and the time, try to make this happen once in a while. Since a lot of my friends live in LA, near where my family lives, it’s convenient for me to see my friends and my family over holidays. I’ve also been lucky enough to have friends visit me in Seattle. Another thing you could do is plan a trip together, where you and your friends all travel and meet up somewhere (super stoked to meet up with my friends in Las Vegas next month!).
Friendships change as you change, and hopefully you and your friends can grow together. The best friendships become stronger as you support each other in your growth. Even if you can’t cheer your friends on by their sides, your friendship can support them and help them achieve their dreams. Try to be there for your friends as a source of encouragement and support, and also don’t be afraid to be open with them when you’re feeling vulnerable, confused, or insecure. And when you can support them in person, such as at important ~life achievements~ like graduations, do!
Okay, time to go tell your long-distance friends that you love them!
And let me know: What helps you maintain your long-distance friendships?