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Summary: Learn how to keep a long-distance friendship alive and strong in this article.
With the ease of travel and long-distance communication in today’s world, young people, more than ever before, are moving away from home to attend college and/or to find jobs and explore new opportunities. Not only do people move away from where they grew up, but they relocate again, even after living somewhere new for a while.
While the ability to move around allows people greater opportunities, the ability to meet new and interesting people and to find somewhere in this world that they love to be, it also makes relationships incredibly difficult. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships as well. Having good friendships is absolutely key to overall happiness. Friends provide us with a sense of belonging, someone to talk with about what’s on our mind, and people to do fun things with and increase those endorphins!
When you have a great friend or friends that you’re close with and see all the time, but then find out that you’ll be separated by a move, it can be heartbreaking. However, just because you’ll no longer see each other every single week doesn’t mean you can’t still maintain a close friendship. There are many ways to maintain long-distance friendships and it might end with you both growing closer and appreciating your friendship even more than you did before.
If your friend is moving away or vice versa, here are some key tips to keeping your friendship as strong as ever:
Accept that it will be hard. When you can see your friend whenever you feel like it, it’s easy to talk, catch up and get some quality time with one another. When your friend isn’t close by, you have to put more effort into talking with them. Sometimes this means scheduling phone calls and planning trips, other times it means sending them a card or small gift in the mail to show them you’re thinking of them. You have to go out of your way to keep the connection, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
Make travel plans. Rather than just saying that you’ll see one another but not making any kind of commitment, go ahead and make plans. Real plans. Buy that plane ticket and make it happen. You can visit one another at your homes, pick a fun destination trip or meet halfway in between. One of the keys to friendship is the creation of memories, those “remember when…” moments that get you laughing about the things you’ve done together. Being together helps to create those memories, so set aside some money and time and make these visits a priority and a habit. Knowing the next time you’ll see each other will allow you to have something to look forward to.
Do something together, apart. People are making friendships all over the world through the use of technology, so why can’t you? Create or join a virtual book club (or one of so many other groups/events online) with your friend so that you’re reading the same book at the same time. Are you into fitness? Join an online fitness challenge together. If you both run, train for a race together and meet up for the actual event, turning it into a mini vacation. The shared journey will allow you to connect through experiencing the same thing and will give you a reason to speak often.
Take advantage of social media. While social media may seem silly or a time-waster to some, it has an important place in keeping friendships together in this day and age. Use it to send pictures to keep people updated. Share the small things that are happening so your friends feel like they’re with you in your day-to-day life. If you see something that makes you laugh or reminds you of your friend, share it with them. Social media is a free and fast way to keep connected on a day to day basis and keeping up with the small things is so important to staying close.
Improve your communication skills. All of the suggestions above require being a good communicator and planner. These might not be your strengths or how your friendship normally operates. Maybe you’re so used to just dropping by your friend’s house rather than planning ahead or you always see each other at work or church so you don’t have to make an effort to talk. However, if you want to keep this friendship strong, you have to work on being a better communicator. Make plans to talk and don’t break them. They can’t see your face, so share how you’re feeling about something. Be honest when life is getting you down. On the flip side, be sure to ask your friend meaningful questions too. Learning to communicate in a new way will take adjusting, but you’ll get to a good place.