In May, my best friend and I graduated high school together. We knew come August we’d have to part ways for college. But at least we’d get to see each other during weekends and breaks, right? Not quite, as she was going to McGill University in Canada. No matter the distance, a long-distance friendship is never going to be easy. Not only was she going to be in another country, but another time zone. Regardless of how I imagined our college years going, I couldn’t be more proud of her. Since August I’ve been “learning on the job” how to navigate a true test of our friendship. I might not know everything yet, but I certainly hope to give my insight into what I’ve learned thus far.
Communication is Key
As cliche as that phrase is, it can truly make or break a friendship. Thankfully, we have so many forms of communication at our fingertips. From FaceTime calls to Snapchat to text messaging there are a variety of ways to stay in touch. Try to make an effort to have a general idea of each other’s schedules, this way you can know the best times to get a conversation in. Personally, my best friend and I are the types where we don’t have to talk on a daily basis; however, we both realize that’s not everyone’s case. I suggest setting up a scheduled time you guys can call for at least a couple of minutes. This plan might not align every day, so be flexible and communicate if you have to raincheck the call.” I think it’s important to be honest about how you feel and keep communication up,” Anna Freedlund (my very own bestie) contributes. In order to make this new dynamic work, both of you will need to be putting in equal amounts of effort.
You’re both adjusting to new things and have different responsibilities, so it’s important to understand that things are going to be tricky at first. “I would say be understanding of the transition,” Freedlund adds. You will have new opportunities every day and it’s ok to take those opportunities. A true friendship will develop and maneuver through life. It’s been interesting for us to adjust to the time difference, but certainly not impossible. Luckily the difference is just an hour. Another thing that is going to be a big difference is going to be other friends. You are each going to make more friends, but more friends doesn’t mean drifting apart. It’s understandable to wonder what other friends will do to your friendship. It’ll be strange to see your bestie out without you, but the way I think about it is I’d rather see a smile on her face with her new friends than see her sad and lonely. A big part of this transition is going to be acknowledging what’s different and not pretending it’s not happening. It will be much easier to address a concern rather than push it down. And on the other side of that, a good friend will be willing to talk things through about every concern. Being understanding to each other during this big change will go further than you think. Though a lot is changing, try to hold onto what’s still normal and be ok with finding a new normal. The less time you spend thinking about how weird and different it is, the more you’ll enjoy the company.
Emotions are not something to be ashamed of, obviously it’s going to be emotional to move away from your best friend when you’ve never lived more than 10 minutes away. Remember as my bestie said earlier, “be honest about how you feel.” If you are a worrier like me it’s ok to express your concern about various things or even just to express you miss them. A true bestie is going to acknowledge concerns and you can come to a conclusion together of what to do next. Your friendship can only grow as long as you talk about what emotions you are feeling.
Every moment and every conversation you get to share with them is something to be thankful for and excited about. Time is something to cherish no matter the situation but in a long-distance friendship, it’s even more crucial. Even if it’s a silly voicemail you wake up to or what feels like 100 memes to send to them. In this new and crazy path, you are both getting to experience together, there is nothing more important than each other. Something even as random as a silly emoji or an inside joke sent throughout the day will show you’re thinking of them. Build this friendship on the “remember whens” not the “what ifs?” Nothing about this transition is going to be easy, but that’s why you have each other – to get through it together.