How to Navigate Long Distance Relationships... With Your Friends

Manhattan, New York
United States

We always hear about how hard it is to maintain a long-distance romantic relationship; however, maintaining relationships with friends long distance can be just as difficult. College is such an important time in our lives. Most of us are truly away from all the “comforts of home” for the first time and learning how to navigate that can be difficult. For most people, one of those “comforts of home” is their friends from home. I personally adore my friends back home and miss them every day.

We often hear about how relationships are tested in college and how it’s normal to drift apart. While I know this to be true, I don’t think it’s always that simple. I think we all make choices and if there are people you want to make sure you don’t lose, you have to make the choice to check in on them. I’m not saying it’s always easy. We have to learn to forgive ourselves and each other for those days where it just feels off. I’ll be the first to admit there are days when I don’t feel like talking to anyone; especially people from home; and that’s totally okay. However, I’m lucky. My friends from home are family to me. We are all so different yet fit together perfectly. I can’t think of home without thinking about our late night drives and horror movie marathons during our countless sleepovers. There’s something so special about those people who truly know you better than anyone and that you can truly be yourself around. They are the people who I don’t even have to tell what’s going on with me because they already know.

Having to deal with this myself, I’ve thought of a few tips that will hopefully help anyone feeling frustrated about maintaining a long distance friendship:

  1. Stay in contact: It might sound obvious but it’s so important to reach out when you don’t get to see people in person. I don’t mean every second of every day, that would be unrealistic and can make you feel like you’ve failed too often. However, just checking in on people can go a long way in showing them you’re still there if they need you. If something funny happens, text them about it! It’s a great way to open up a dialogue if you feel weird sending an emotional “I miss you” text.

  2. Facetime when you can: Once again, you can’t expect people to be able to facetime every single day. As college students, we’re extremely busy and that’s a good thing! Being involved is good! We’re in college to learn and to grow so that applies to our social lives as well! It’s best to thrive in the environment you’re in, instead of dwelling on somewhere you’re not. However, it’s always so nice just to sit on facetime with someone and catch up. Maybe even rant; I recommend it.

  3. Forgive yourself if things feel off: If you go a few days without texting someone, it doesn’t mean anything bad. Some days things will feel off and it’s important not to feel frustrated. Not everyone can manage relationships when they don’t see people every day and you have to be understanding in that respect. It doesn’t mean they love you any less.

  4. Plan the next time you’ll see them: This is the last and (in my opinion) most important tip I’ll give. When you’re really missing someone it helps to know when you’re going to be seeing them next. Whether that means a visit to their college or the next break from school; it’s always nice to have something to look forward to. My friends from home have a bucket list of all the things we want to do this summer and I get so excited when I think about it. It really helps when you’re struggling to get through the week, or you’re just feeling down, to know that it won’t be long until you’re on a trip with your best friends.

All of that being said, I have to get personal for a second. I don’t know where I’d be without my best friends. They have taught me so much and are truly the most amazing friends I could have asked for. Most of us don’t even remember becoming friends with each other; it just feels like one day we showed up in each other's lives and it felt like we had been there forever. We’ve been through so much together and had our fair share of disagreements but I wouldn’t change a thing about any of them. We are all currently separated for college, but I’m so proud of all the things they’re accomplishing. They all have such bright futures ahead of them and I can’t wait to be a part of that. They all support me no matter what as well and there’s something so special about having a support system like that. It makes you feel like wherever you are, you’re never alone. And I can’t thank them enough for giving that to me.

I know some people might disagree with me and think that growing apart from your friends is the norm. While I know that works best for some people, it doesn’t apply to everyone. I’m lucky enough to have real friends back home who are going to be a part of my life forever, and I’m so grateful for it. I’ve come to know that life is too short to lose people who truly enrich your life so if you have people like that, reach out to them! Even if you’re nervous or think they won’t care; it’s always nice to know that someone out there is thinking of you. I hope this helps anyone out who’s struggling to maintain long distance friendships. You’re not alone, and I promise you the best is yet to come!