5 Tips for Maintaining Long-Distance Friendships

Nervous at the thought of going from having the ability and freedom to see your closest friends in a moment’s notice, to suddenly feeling a lifetime away with a million obstacles between you? Well, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone! Whether you are just starting college and finding yourself separated from your hometown friends for the first time, or you are facing this new world of distanced friendships as a result of quarantine, navigating the ups-and-downs of long-distance friendships is a challenge we all face at one point or another.

While the topic is daunting and tends to be brushed aside until it cannot be ignored, distance does not have to be the loose thread that, when pulled, has the power to completely unravel your friendships. So long as you have a stable foundation, you would be surprised what your bonds will be able to withstand, and even develop into. 

Here is a compilation of five tips that I hope will prepare and give you confidence as you start your journey through the tumultuous waters of long-distance friendships. 

 

   1. Acknowledge the change

 Illustrations by Sketchify + grmarc from Canva / Design by Suzanna Kussman

You’ve probably heard and rolled your eyes at the phrase many times before, but in this case, acceptance really is key! For you to have more control of the path your friendships go in, even if that path extends hundreds of miles between you, acknowledging the change this distance will bring to your dynamic is important. 

We don’t tend to enjoy dwelling on things that scare us, but ignoring your fears about the ambiguity of what the future holds won’t do your friendships any favors. Instead, sit down and have a conversation regarding your worries; more likely than not, you’ll find your friends feel the exact same way. 

At the end of the day, remind each other that the elements making you such great friends in the first place will still be at the core, and this is just a new experience for you to navigate and share.  

   2. Fit each other into your schedules

 Illustrations by iconsy and sketchify from Canva / Designed by Suzanna Kussman

Let’s face it, it can be easy for us to become submerged in a sea of endless responsibilities with the sense that there is not enough time in the world to achieve it all. This, along with the way in which modern society can feel like one large sensory overload pulling your attention in a million different directions, could cause you to fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” mindset regarding preserving your distanced friendships. 

Keeping one another as a main priority is a crucial way to stop this from happening. Fit each other into your schedules by planning weekly catch-ups to ensure you have at least one set time to genuinely communicate. Marking out this consistent day and time on your calendar will both remind and grant you the opportunity to slow down every once in a while, as well as providing you with something to consistently look forward to.

   3. Find new ways to communicate

 Illustrations by Marketplace Designers, Sparklestroke Global, iconsy, and sketchify from Canva / Design by Suzanna Kussman

Having distance between you and your friends doesn’t have to result in a constant uphill battle and endless cycle of few-and-far-between calls or texts. Instead, make the most out of the situation by viewing it as an opportunity to express, practice, and share your creativity. 

A non-exhaustive list of possibilities for you to consider when finding new ways to communicate include: writing a letter, sending a postcard, piecing together a video compilation of your favorite moments, creating a playlist for them or collaborating on one, and sending them samples of new crafts or hobbies you’ve begun.

By putting forth the time and effort required to go the extra mile for your friends in these ways, you can prove that distance does not automatically mean disconnected. 

   4. Never be afraid to reach out

 Illustrations by sketchify and sparklestroke from Canva / Design by Suzanna Kussman

We can all be our own worst enemies at times. This can cause us to doubt our intuitions about anything and everything, including where even our closest friendships stand. When friendships are long-distance, it is easier for us to feel as though there is nothing “good enough” or “interesting enough” to share; thus, we share nothing at all. This is a mistake!

If they are your true friends, you should never feel the need to be afraid to reach out. If an old memory of a time you shared comes to mind, call them to reminisce. If you see something that reminds you of them, let them know. It’s little details like these that are sure to make your friend’s day, and may prove to be exactly what they need in the given moment.

If you are missing your friends, there is a very high chance that they are missing you too. So next time you experience something--no matter how insignificant--and think, “I want to tell ___ about this,” don’t give yourself the chance to overthink it, just reach out. 

   5. Remind them you are always in their corner

 Illustrations by Sketchify and gstudioimagen from Canva / Design by Suzanna Kussman

The bottom line here is that being in close proximity to one another is by no means the be-all and end-all of your friendships. Distance is just another variable added to the friendship equation. Yes, it may be more complex, but impossible—no. 

By keeping up-to-date and sending your utmost support on projects, big events, opportunities, personal changes, and so on, you prove to your friends that you still genuinely care about their lives; even when you can’t be right there beside them to experience it all firsthand. Reminding your friends that you are always in their corner no matter the distance between you through not just passive words, but direct actions, will strengthen your bonds even further. 

 

Life is about facing challenges and learning how to adapt and overcome them. The challenge of successfully maintaining long-distance friendships is no easy feat and will require equal commitment from all involved, but I promise you it’s worth it! Once you have a handle on what works best for each unique friendship, you and your friends will feel as connected as ever. What’s more, it will make the moments you do get to be together that much more special. 

As expressed by Josh Grayson, “True friendship is when two friends can walk in opposite directions, yet remain side by side.” I believe you all have this ability to keep your friends close, even if not in the literal sense, and I hope these tips will help in either getting you started or in continuing your journey of navigating long-distance friendships. Good luck!