Whether you’re moving away and leaving life-long friends back home, or you’ve met new friends on your travels and you’re moving to a new destination, or back home, maintaining friendships across the miles is difficult, but certainly not impossible.
It takes time, effort, communication, and a desire on both sides to stay in touch, but managing a long distance friendship is certainly do-able.
The great thing about have separate lives but staying a part of each other’s overall picture is that you have so much to talk about, because there is always going to be something different going on with both of you at any one time. Having said that however, there is a risk of feeling isolated, as though you don’t have as much in common anymore, but this is where the effort part of the deal comes in.
Here’s a few ways and a little advice on managing those important long distance friendships in your life.
This is the single most important part to any friendship, whether its long distance or not, but when you have miles and time zones between you, finding time to talk is vital. Thankfully we have many different ways to stay in touch nowadays, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype etc, and it’s really a case of arranging a regular time to speak. Set aside a particular day per week when you have a chat on Skype, and make sure you put it in your diary and always clear time. Making time for a friendship is the same as making time for someone you are in a relationship with, so treat it with the same importance.
There are going to be times when you feel a little disconnected, maybe because you’ve not been able to speak that week, due to a problem, or because something big is going on in your friend’s life and you’re not there to be a part of it. It’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling when problems arise, but don’t throw blame at the other party. Distance can cause misinterpretation of messages, so it’s always better to have these discussions when you can see the other person’s face, e.g. over Skype.
Don’t be selfish
It’s easy to get caught up in your own life, and ramble on about the amazing things you’re seeing and doing on your travels, but have a little empathy towards your friend, who may not be travelling, or may be having a hard time with something else in their life. Ask questions about what’s going on with them, be interested, and don’t be selfishly talking about yourself constantly. I say this because resentment is so easy to grow in a long distance friendship, and you need to be aware of it.
Make sure you plan regular visits, and take turns in who travels, e.g. you travel to them one time, and they come to you the next. When you’re together, make sure you set aside quality time and do fun activities to solidify your connection.
Long distance friendships can be difficult, but the strongest friendships come out the other side of the arrangement in better shape than they went into it.