Whether you are the one who has left, or the one who has been left behind, your friendship will need care and attention to keep it in good health.
When I moved to London for my internship about a year ago, one of my biggest fears was that my friends would forget about me, or that I would lose friends.
Being far away from my friends was something new for me, something scary, something I’ve never dealt with before. During that time I learned that there are ways to maintain a long distance friendship. I also made new friends in London, and unfortunately I now live miles away from them but the things that I’ve learned during my time in London really helps me to maintain those friendships as well.
Maintaining a long distance friendship can be hard, and not all friendships are strong enough to survive when you’re miles apart, but there are definitely ways to increase the chance of maintaining a long distance friendship.
What do you do when you or your best friend moves 10,000 miles away? There is hope, says Hannah Davies, who has sought some words of wisdom from ‘Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend’ author Dr Irene S Levine:
A 2008 study found that long-lasting friendships share the characteristic of reciprocity, meaning that both sides equally contact and share with one another.
With busy schedules and clashing time zones, squeezing in long-distance phone calls can be a challenge. Finding a time that works for both of you and sticking to it can alleviate this pressure: maybe your commute to work is the best time to ring, or texting a Bake Off recap once a week will do the trick.
2. Keep in Contact
It’s important to keep in contact with your friend(s) if you want to maintain that friendship, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
You don’t have to message each other all the time, but let them know how you feel, what you’ve been up to and share your favorite moments and photos.
Don’t just post a photo on Facebook but send it to your friend directly to make it more personal. Instead of typing in Whatsapp, why not send a voice message?
Sending voice messages to my friend instead of texts made the conversation more fun and personal, because I could hear the way my friend says something, a way only my friend can.
Another fun way to keep in contact is by making a playlist for each other, or make a vlog only for your friend so he or she can see what’s been going on and what your daily life looks like. If it’s hard for you to make a vlog, Snapchat will works just fine!
DiDonato says that one way to maintain a long distance friendship is to not be afraid to start conversations. Specifically conversations that matter.
“There’s less opportunity to share common experiences in person, so maintaining a long-distance friendship requires ‘keeping in touch’ with each other’s lives,” Dr. Levine explains.
While you may not have time for an hour-long phone call every day, sending a few texts back and forth about goings-on at work is key to staying close.
Who says you can’t hang out when you’re miles apart? With the technology we have now, a lot is possible!
One of my favorite ways to hang out is via video chatting with Facetime or Skype. Since I got unlimited data on my phone when I lived in England, I had the possibility to video chat with my friends wherever I was, or call them for free using Whatsapp.
I loved to Facetime with my friend when I was getting ready for a party or when I was cooking or grocery shopping. This made it feel like we weren’t that far away from each other.
4. Remember Important Dates
Remember important dates! Anniversaries and birthdays carry even more weight in long-distance friendships. Alhough technology might make day-to-day communication possible, on special occasions, extra effort goes a long way.
In an Ofcom survey from 2015, sending a birthday card remained the most popular way to send a birthday greeting. Simply keeping a diary that keeps track of friends’ birthdays and other important dates will make sure nothing slips by you (just remember to account for last posting dates for international delivery at Christmas and other key times).
5. Commit to Meeting IRL
Apps and unlimited data plans have made it easier than ever to stay in constant contact, but there’s no substitute for seeing a loved one in the flesh.
“Friendships rarely last on old memories alone,” says Dr. Levine, so it’s important to make the time to see each other as often as your schedules (and wallets) allow.
Whether you’re jet-setting to a fitness retreat or simply visiting each others’ homes, creating new memories together will help your friendship continue to develop.
Go Out And Work on Your Friendships!
Friendships aren’t like plants that die if you neglect them for a long weekend. They’re built on trust, hugs, and memories. If you put time, care, and faith into a friendship, you can always come back to it.
The distance between you doesn’t define your friendship, and there’s no single way to maintain your closeness. Some friendships thrive with very little nurturing; others take more work.
“This is true whether one is in close proximity or at a distance,” Barth says. Keeping apprised of each other’s lives and being honest with each other about what’s working in the friendship and what isn’t is the key to keeping your bond strong, no matter how far away you are.