When a friendship goes from local to long-distance, adjusting to the new status quo can be challenging on both sides.
You might get a job offer that takes you to a new city, for example. Or your best friend may decide to take a year off work and travel the world. The initial separation can be tough but you can still make a long-distance friendship work. These tips can help you bridge the gap and keep the friendship going strong.
1. Share your expectations.
Obviously, if you or your friend are moving across the country, you won't be able to meet up for Friday night cocktails or Sunday morning brunch. And even fitting in phone calls could be tough if you're in different time zones.
Talking about what you both expect when it comes to how you'll connect — either in-person, via email, texting or phone calls — can help ease any anxiety you might be feeling about not seeing your friend as often. You don't have to establish a set schedule for chatting (unless that's something that works for both of you), but marking off a set day or time for a phone call or FaceTiming does mean that neither one of you is wondering when you'll talk to the other.
And it should go without saying that if you do set up a specific time to talk or video chat, commit to showing up. Being friends long-distance is already hard enough, and not being there when your friend is counting on you (or vice versa) can only make it harder.
2. Continue cultivating shared interests.
Just because you're not living in the same town doesn't mean you and your friend can't share some of the same hobbies or interests. Think about the things that you used to do when you lived close to one another. Then, figure out how you can do them where you are while staying connected.
For example, maybe you used to jog together on Sunday afternoons. You can both keep up your jogging routine, then compare notes afterward. Or, if binge-watching your favorite shows was your thing, you could catch a few episodes together once or twice a month via video chat. You may have to approach the things you used to do together in a different way, but you don't have to abandon them altogether.
3. Work on exploring some new interests, too.
Here's the truth about long-distance friendships: it's hard being the one who's left behind. And if you're in that scenario, it's natural to feel jealous when you hear your bestie talking about someone cool they met at work or a friend they made at the gym. After all, someone's hanging out with your friend and you can't. But if you stay in that mindset, it can make you resentful. The better thing to do is to focus on having some new experiences of your own.
Make a list of things that have been on your "to-try" list. Maybe it's going to an open mic night at karaoke or learning how to knit or volunteering at the local animal shelter. Spend the time that you would normally have spent with your friend exploring some uncharted territory. At the very least, you'll have something interesting to tell your friend about the next time you talk.
4. Send the occasional reminder by mail.
Phone calls, texts and email are great for staying in touch when you're trying to maintain a long-distance friendship, but don't forget about snail mail. Sending a handwritten letter, postcard or even a care package every once in a while is a nice way to let your friend know they're still a priority.
If you want to get a little more creative (and interactive), consider sharing a journal or a notebook that you can send back and forth. Take turns adding to the book — letters, notes, photos, poems, sketches — anything goes. It's a simple but unique way to continue weaving the story of your friendship across the miles.
5. Schedule visits whenever possible.
Traveling can get expensive, but it's important for maintaining long-distance friendships. You may talk or text daily, but it's not the same as being with your friend and seeing them face-to-face.
If you can't afford to go all the way to where your friend is or they can't afford to come to you, consider whether you could split the difference and meet halfway. Even if you can only meet for the weekend, a couple of days can be just what you need to reinforce your bond as friends.
6. Keep a long-distance friendship in perspective.
Having a friend move away or being the one to move isn't the end of the world. It's always possible that you could end up in the same city again down the line. Regardless of which one of you relocates, continue to support and cheer one another on as you tackle the next challenges and adventures life has to offer. At the end of the day, maintaining long-distance friendships is all about being in one another's corner emotionally, even when you can't be there physically.