Like all long-distance relationships, long-distance friendships are complicated. They're not easy to maintain, as distance really can take a toll on your relationship.
Many long-distance relationships don't last because one or both people starts neglecting the relationship or putting in less time and effort. But, if you care deeply about this friend and want to keep them in your life, regardless of where you are, there are ways to hang onto that friendship.
The nature of long-distance friendships
A long-distance friendship is a friendship between two people who live quite far apart — far enough that they don't see each other on a regular basis, if ever at all.
So does distance matter in friendship? Of course. When friends are close in proximity to one another, they can spend more time together. This means that they'll inevitably share more with each other and even go through life experiences together that can build stronger bonds. They'll know a lot more about each other than friends who are far away, who might not understand every situation or be able to offer the same partnership or even support in every situation.
Distance can cause friendships to fade, which is natural when you spend less time with someone. It can also be hard to keep in touch since you have to make more of an effort to call and visit each other. And, with time zone differences, as well, timing can get tricky.
How to tell if your long-distance friendship is doomed
Not all long-distance friendships last, and that's for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes, with time, they simply fade out, while other times, distance can create tension and cause conflicts in the friendship, such as trust issues.
Here are five signs that your long-distance friendship might be a failing one.
1. You stop calling/texting as frequently.
If you or your friend stops calling or texting as frequently, it could be a red flag that the relationship is slowly fading out. Of course, people get busy, but in order to maintain a long-distance friendship, communication is key. Likewise, if texting or emailing is your only form of communication when you used to chat on the phone all the time, this isn't a good sign.
2. You stop prioritizing time to catch up.
If you or your friend stop prioritizing time to catch up, it could also be a sign that your friendship is slowing dwindling. Again, communication is key, and it's important that you both carve out the time to chat over the phone or Skype, etc. The second you get lazy about it, it may only get worse from there and, soon enough, you could lose touch altogether.
3. You stop sharing important details about your lives with one another.
It's equally important for both you and your friend to keep abreast of important developments in each other's lives. If your friend gets a new job, and you don't know about it, or you got dumped, and they don't know about it, it might be a red flag that you're losing touch. Friends share updates with friends.
4. You start forgetting about each other in some ways.
If you start forgetting the little details, like your friend's birthday or move-out date or wedding anniversary, etc., it may be a sign that your friendship is fading (or you're just busy and overwhelmed!). If they stop calling you on your birthday or stop remembering to ask about that job promotion you told them about a few weeks ago, it could also be a sign that your friendship is slowly slipping away.
5. You start arguing over trust-related issues.
If you or your friend starts to lose trust, that's a major red flag. After all, trust is a central tenet of all friendships. Without trust, there is no friendship, especially when trust might be all you can have from so far away.
5 ways to deepen your long-distance friendship
If you feel like your long-distance friendship is starting to fail, there are some things you can do to deepen that friendship again. Here are five tips.
1. Actually set aside time to catch up with your friend.
Actually make the time to catch up with your friend. Carve out an hour each week to video chat. Send a few texts each day or week. Call every weekend or every other weekend. Whatever it is that you're able to do, do it.
2. Start opening up more with your friend.
If you feel like your friendship is fading because you don't even know your long-distance friend's new boyfriend, or you haven't heard about their new job or you don't know how their family is doing, start opening up about your own updates. This will undoubtedly encourage them to open back up, too. And you can also simply ask!
3. Set reminders for important dates pertaining to your friend.
Set reminders about important dates in your friend's life, like their birthday, for example. This way, you won't forget to reach out.
4. Initiate more open, candid conversations with your friend.
If you're worried about trust issues in your friendship, start initiating deeper, more candid conversations with your friend. You might just have to work your way back to that place of comfort with them.
5. Plan visits to go see your friend.
If you have the time, money and opportunity, go pay your friend a visit. Or invite them to visit you. Even if you can only make it out to each other once in a calendar year, it's better than never seeing each other at all.
The brutal truth is that long-distance relationships are tough; they're time- and energy-consuming, and you're not going to reap the same rewards as you do when you put in time and energy with friends at home. But if you don't put in the time or effort to maintain your long-distance friendship, it could all too easily fail.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.