Whether you met in high school, college, or some other time in life – chances are high that distance will come between you and some of your closest and dearest friends. How are we supposed to maintain long-distance friendships? Some people find it difficult enough to maintain friendships with people in the same town. So how are we supposed to survive hundreds of miles?
The truth is that it isn’t easy. And that’s okay…if you’re willing to put in a little effort occasionally. And that effort might pay off tenfold if: you suddenly live in the same area, you get married, you get divorced, you have children, you travel through their town, or if you just want to maintain that friendship because it’s important to you.
Ways to maintain long-distance friendships
1. Commit. Just like in a romantic relationship, friendships require commitment. If you’re not willing to make the commitment to stay connected to someone you care about, then simply put – you won’t.
2. Variety. Myspace. Facebook. E-mail. Texting. Calling. There are a variety of ways to stay connect, so there is no excuse not to! The better the friend, the more variety in their ways to connect to you. If you are only using myspace to stay connected to your best friend, chances are that you probably won’t be best friends for very long. It’s important to hear their voice! So use a variety of methods.
3. Driving. I hate people who talk on their cell phone and drive!! But I’m guilty. It’s my main way of staying connected to my best friends. If it’s going to take me 20 minutes to get home, I might as well do something positive on the way there. Headsets are a great idea, and don’t be afraid to say – “hold on” when your driving requires some more attention. And please don’t hit me with your car. Thank You.
4. Memory. While your friend is telling you all about her experiences with new friends, people, and work – it’s likely that you won’t know any of these people. Trying to keep everybody and everything straight can be a challenge. What’s a solution? Write it down. You will need to work extra hard to remember what your friend is saying because you’ll have no other personal connection to it all. Remembering the details and the people’s names is a great way to show your friend that you care and you are paying attention. Need some help remember?
5. Notebook. Grab a spiral notebook while you’re chatting on the phone (NOT while you’re driving!) and jot down the important stuff – people places, etc. Glance over it again to refresh your memory before calling or writing your friend. Little details make a big difference.
6. Plan a yearly trip. Even if you’re both broke, plan a trip together every year (more if you have the funds to do so). Make it an annual thing and take lots of pictures. You can go to your friends place, your friend can come see you, or you can both go somewhere else together. Bring spouses and partners if you want, but warn them that it’s going to be a lot of “catching up” and it could get boring for others.
7. Snail mail. Sending things in the mail may be a thing of the past, but if you don’t want your friendship to ALSO be a thing of the past, it’s time you figured out how to mail things. Yes, there are stamps involved. The post office can help you, but be prepared to wait in line and deal with cranky people. What can you send your friend? Anything! A note, postcard, letter, picture, book, cd, anything!
8. Their friends. Your friend will make new friends. Be ready to accept that, and even more importantly – get to know them! Meet them, write them, talk to them. These people surround your friend’s life. If you are even just casual friends with the new friends, you will stay closer. If they want to surprise your friend, or if your friend really needs help – these new people will know they can count on you. And so will your friend.
9. The bad stuff. When you experience something bad – whether it’s a bad day, or just a bad moment (feeling lonely, sad, angry, etc) call your friend. That’s what friends are for. Don’t think that just because it’s a long distance friendship that you can only share the good stuff. Great friends are there for the good AND the bad. So be sure to call when you need someone to talk to.
Here’s some more good info:
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