I live in New York City, and if there’s one thing that people do a LOT in New York City, it’s moving away from New York City.
I get it: the rent is insane, the weather is gross, the whole town is dirty and so so crowded. And, once you’ve got a kid or two, the entire idea of living in the city seems sort of nuts. But I … well … I love this town. I love the noise, the crowd, the lights, and the way there’s always something to do or eat no matter the day or the time. So we’ve stayed here. But everyone else is moving away, which is hard because, you know, those people were my friends. They still are. Only now they live in Illinois, or Atlanta, or California, or somewhere. And I miss them.
The whole world is kind of like this now, I’m noticing. It’s not necessarily that our friends have moved away, either. People are making friends on social media – people they’ve never met in real life, turning into confidants, support-networks, and partners in crime. And we’re connecting with old friends in new ways, too. People from high-school, or college, elementary school even. Through the magic of the internet, we’re friends again. Just like that. Only we live so far away.
Through the magic of the internet, we’re friends again. Just like that. Only we live so far away.
We’ve all read articles about maintaining long-distance romances. Maybe we’ve even done it ourselves. But what about long-distance friendships? Can those be maintained too? And, if so, how?
Make time to speak on the phone or (better yet) via video chat
Life gets busy, and texting (or tweeting, or commenting on each other’s Facebook posts, or whatever) is easy. You can do it while you’re sitting at your desk at work, or walking down the street, or heading to bed. You can do it while you’re reading something (well, not exactly while you’re reading, but off and on as you’re reading) or even, though I don’t recommend this, talking to someone else face to face. But a text is not the same as a chat.
Life gets busy, and texting (or tweeting, or commenting on each other’s Facebook posts, or whatever) is easy.
Being able to hear your friend’s voice and see her face is the next best thing to going and grabbing coffee together like you used to do. Actually talking (rather than texting) forces you to carve out time that’s just for chatting together, no distractions. In my experience, even though I sometimes feel like I don’t have time to do this, or don’t want to pick up the phone because I’m weird on the phone, I’m always glad I did. Nothing beats spending time together in person – even if on the phone or the computer is the closest you can get.
Text each other regularly the rest of the time
While nothing beats actually talking, you probably can’t talk to each other every day – or even every week. So texting is the next best thing. Text to say hi every couple of days. Text when something makes you think of your friend. Text when you’re feeling sad and need someone to send you something funny or kind. Just make sure you’re keeping up a fairly steady stream of communication.
Make sure you’re keeping up a fairly steady stream of communication.
Texts are great because people don’t have to answer them right away (or at all). You can be standing in the aisle at CVS (as I was the other day) and hear a song come on that you and your high-school best friend used to listen to all the time while driving around aimlessly in her car. And you can just send a quick text that says something like, “They’re playing our song at CVS. Thinking of you!” Your friend doesn’t need to answer right then (you’re probably not even looking at your phone anymore), but you still shared that moment together, in a way. Texts are a great way to just stay in each other’s lives in a casual and easy to manage way.
Send each other care packages (or letters) sometimes
Everybody loves mail! And mail from a friend is even better. Every once in awhile, pick up a few things you know your friend will enjoy and mail them to her. Or bake a batch of cookies, seal them up in a Tupperware, and pop them in a box with a little bubble wrap. Drop in a card that says, “Thinking of you!” and you’ll make your friend’s day!
Everybody loves mail! And mail from a friend is even better.
If money is an issue, be smart about it. Send her a candy bar the two of you used to eat together all the time. Or a postcard with a picture of two old ladies on it and write, “This’ll be us one day!” Or draw her a silly picture. Anything that will make her smile and let her know you’re thinking of her.
Send photos of things you’re doing or want her opinion on
If you and your friend used to go shopping together all the time, send her photos when you’re trying on clothes and ask her opinion. Or send her a photo of a page of the book you’re reading to ask what she thinks about it. It’s like phone a friend, only better.
If you and your friend used to go shopping together all the time, send her photos when you’re trying on clothes and ask her opinion.
Similarly, if you’re walking down the street and see something you think your friend would love, send a picture of it. Maybe it’s a cute dog, or a weird ad, or a new restaurant that opened near you. It’s a way that your friend can still be a part of your day-to-day life even though she lives somewhere else.
When it comes to maintaining long-distance friendships, the name of the game is frequent communication. Make sure you don’t go too long without checking in with your friend in some way. And try to make those check-ins meaningful but casual – you’re still in each other’s lives on a regular basis, this isn’t a 10-year-reunion type friendship. Sure, you want to try to meet up in real life whenever you can, but finances and schedules might make that difficult. But perhaps it’s a good idea to have that as a goal – one day we’ll meet again. It’s a nice thought, anyway. And something to hold onto.