After being a full-time traveler for a few years, I quickly found that I would have to learn how to maintain long-distance friendships.
I needed to know how to keep the distance from making us distant.
I went from weekly coffee shop meet-ups with two of my closest friends, to figuring out times to talk over video.
And while it was easy at first, it became more difficult with time.
Different life situations happened to all of us and made it harder to find time to connect. Also, we started to evolve and change on our own, and the physical distance kept us from understanding everything that was going on.
Now while your situation might look different, I’d love to share a few long-distance friendship tips that I believe will make yours actually work (and get stronger).
How to Maintain a Long Distance Friendship
1. Check Up on What Important to Them
And make it important to you as well!
It’s so simple, but doing this one small thing can really strengthen your bond even if there’s a big distance between the two of you.
And here’s what I mean: Your friend mentioned over the previous call, or a small text conversation, that she’s taking new classes to improve her career, or her child is experiencing specific difficulties in school.
So you do 2 things:
- Be a friend to them, listen to them, but also think of solutions when you’re not talking (if they share a problem). It’s important to first hear them out and comfort them in their specific situation. But when you’re not around them, do a little bit a research, ask others who have been in the same situation, or think back to when you’ve have similar problems. How can you help them and make their burden lighter?
- Whether it was a good or bad situation that they shared, check up on them a few days later (or however long you think is appropriate) and see how they and their situation are doing.
Heres’ why it works: Showing that you genuinely care about the different parts of their life, big and small, is a great way to get closer, but also keep the distance from making you mentally + emotionally distant.
You’re making sure your friendship isn’t just surface-deep. You’re putting in the effort to keep things close and make your friend feel cared about in ways they’ll remember years down the road.
Related: 55 Poems About Friendship You Can Send Them if You Live Far Away
2. Figure Out Mental & Emotional Blocks
All of us have certain struggles from how we were raised, and that can determine the strength and length of a friendship.
But if you are both intentional to be aware of each other’s mental and emotional blocks, and learn how to keep each other (and yourselves) accountable, it can help your friendship from dissolving.
Be aware of what emotional triggers you might have that would cause you to put up walls. And if you see your friend putting up their own walls, talk to them about it.
Ask what’s going on and how you can be there for them.
I cannot tell you how much this has helped!
3. Communication No Matter What
Commit to communication no matter what issues come up.
If you’re not communicating with your friend when they do something that bothers you, it will unravel the relationship.
Talk to them about it, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
- If you don’t do it because you’re afraid of the relationship ending, just know that it already will given enough time of not working things out.
- Misunderstanding happen. If you know your friend isn’t a toxic person, chances are they didn’t mean it how you took it.
- Put the shoe on the other foot. If you said something that hurt them, or were doing something that frustrated them, you’d probably feel pretty frustrated that they let their anger build up and not tell you. You’d want to know.
See it as a growing experience to become a better friend and communicator; it can only help.
PS – And make sure to communicate face to face over video. If you do it over text (or even a call), it can potentially lead to more miscommunications since you can’t hear their tone of voice or see their facial expressions.
4. Celebrate With Them
Whether it’s a big or small event, make it significant.
They just hit that milestone for improving their health or completing an online course? Celebrate it.
They talk to you about how they started doing something small to improve their mental health that week? Encourage them and celebrate with them.
Here’s why it works: Even though you’re not physically close, you’re making it so that what’s happening on their side of the world is also taking place where you live. You’re closing the distance and creating a stronger bond. It’s not just conversations about work, it’s building memories and a bond that is actually meaningful.
5. Physical Items
Text messages get forgotten or lost, but physical items are the things you’re holding and smiling at 27 years later.
So for example, take some time to send them a small package filled with a letter and something you know would be meaningful (and/or funny) to them.
Share with them something small (or big) that just happened in your week that you didn’t share over text. It makes it so much more meaningful and fun.
Side Note: Sending them friendship poems with the package (or letter) can be a thoughtful way of showing how much you’re thinking of them!
Other Ideas for Nurturing Your Long-Distance Friendship
If you’re looking for more ideas, then here are a few I’ve thought of and read up on. I think they’re pretty good. 🙂
- Thoughtfully Send Them Music: Whether it’s a whole playlist or just a song you know they’ll love, I’ve found this to actually touch a friend before. I know it’s simple, but sometimes small things really do hit home. Also, it just shows that you know them and what they like!
- No Distance During Hard Times: If you’re going through hard times, don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to your friend and bring them into the situation. Go through hard things together; this will make your friendship so much more meaningful. Also, they might have help + insight to give you that would be genuinely help.
- Set Talk Times: If it’s possible, have a specific time of the week (or every two weeks, or every month) where you connect. If that’s not possible due to shifting schedules, make it a point to figure out a day in that week or month to make it work.
- Find Things to Do Together: Whether it’s trying the same dinner recipe that night, or watching the same show and discussing the different episodes, there are so many things you can do together. Make a list of the things you’d love to do if they were in the same city, and see if you can make it work long-distance.
- Reach Out if You’re Struggling: I’ve found that just sending a message to let them know what I’m going through has really strengthened our friendship. You’re pulling them into your life and solidifying the fact that they’re a real friend to you. They’re not just there for the highlights.
- Plan a Trip Together: When I was in Medellin, Colombia last year, I met two friends at a cooking class who were long-distance friends. They had known each other since high school and almost 10 years later are still planning trips.
- If You Appreciate Them, Tell Them: It’s a wonderful way to get closer to your friend. You know that they know, but I think all of us need to hear it. It helps drive home the fact they they matter and it’s something they can hold onto when they’re going through difficulties.
Learning how to maintain and keep a long-distance friendship can be a lot simpler than you think.
It just takes the both of you being intentional with your thoughts and actions no matter how long it’s been.
PS – Also, just remember this: You deserve good friendships. So keep that good friend around; it’s so worth it for your long-term happiness.
Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.