Long distance friendships

Friends at UC Davis

Photos by YJ Productions

As we get older and forge our individual paths into adulthood, it is natural for friendships to evolve. Friends move across the country (or even out of the country) for jobs, relationships, or other opportunities, which inevitably means the logistics of keeping up with the people we love get more complicated. After moving to Norway, I am hundreds of miles away from some of my closest friends. Across the distance, I still try to maintain correspondence with a handful of close friends that I made at various stages of life — the kind who I can talk to for hours at a time despite not having contact for months.

Just thirty years ago, the thought of moving across the country would have doomed many friendships; fortunately, the rise of social media has enabled us to keep friends who would otherwise have faded out of our lives. But even with Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp, it can be hard to keep in touch with friends you do not see regularly — schedules do not align, someone forgets, or misunderstandings arise. Here are some ideas to help your friendship stand the test of time (and distance):

1. Make time for video calls

Two of my closest friends from college live on opposite sides of the world — one in California and the other in Brunei — so we do not get to see each other as often as we did in college. That is why we have each others’ cities on our world clocks and find a time that works for Skype every few months, just to keep updated on each others’ lives — a lot like old times! Prioritising your face-to-face time means ensuring that your friendship continues to grow, even with miles between you.

Friends with Egghead at UC Davis

2. Be open and honest

When it comes to long distance friendships, communication and honesty go hand in hand. It can be annoying when your friend does not return a call or takes three days to respond; and frustrating when it seems like they make no effort to see you. But know that it can be hard to focus on friends that you are not seeing on a regular basis — maybe your friend is still getting used to the distance, is overwhelmed with work, or is having a personal crisis. Check in from time to time, be supportive, and let them come to you. Remember, texting back and forth all the time is not a measure of how successful or strong your friendship is; it is more important to be understanding and appreciative of the time you do get together.

3. Small gestures make a big difference

Send a postcard when you are on vacation. Send a little care package of their favorite things. Send them a random text with an inside joke you shared. If you are shopping and see something that reminds you of them, snap a picture and send it to them. These are all little things that sum up to show that you are grateful for having that friend in your life.

Friends at UC Davis

4. Celebrate milestones

Always remember birthdays and other important milestones by sending (at least) a card with a sweet, thoughtful message. Be supportive and celebrate your friends’ wins like they are your own; after all, you are friends because they are awesome and inspire you, right? 😉

5. Quality > Quantity

Friends are around for a season, a reason, or a lifetime, so having truly good friends is so much more rewarding than having many friends. Only you know when it is time to move on and when it is worth putting in the effort. Friendships should fuel you, so know the real gems from the fakes and cut your losses if you feel that the friendship is draining you instead. Invest only in those who will have your back in the long run!

Shoutout to my long-distance besties, Josh and Farah, for inspiring this post! ❤️

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