As I stood in my best friend’s driveway, hugging her goodbye for the summer, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of sadness wash over me. Although we’ve known each other since high school, my friend and I now attend colleges in different states and have few opportunities to see each other. This summer would be no exception since I was going back to school for an internship. As I thought of the summer ahead of me, I wondered how I would survive without her. Who would eat pizza and watch Netflix with me or make me laugh after a long day? But, although we would spend the summer apart, I knew our friendship would survive.
Like all relationships, long-distance friendships are works in progress. A lot of effort is required of both people to maintain effective communication. Here are 5 ways to keep a long-distance friendship going strong:
Pay attention to the details
Even though you are not directly involved in your friend’s everyday life, showing interest in what they’re up to reminds them that you care. While you may not be particularly interested in what they ate for breakfast or who they’re going out to dinner with, try to remember the important details that they tell you about.
My friend and I both made an effort to get to know each other’s class schedules, activities and other friends when we started college. It’s always a nice surprise when my friend asks me about the challenging class I’m taking or the new club I joined.
Show thoughtfulness in little ways
Showing your friend that you’re thinking about them doesn’t have to involve a grand gesture, lots of money or hours of planning. Something simple, like a card or an unexpected phone call, can mean a lot more to your friend than you may think. A little extra effort on your end could make their entire day.
Let distance make the heart grow fonder
Social media and smartphones make it easy to be constantly connected with our friends. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and putting your phone down for a few hours. Your friend will understand and likely has a busy schedule of their own, anyway. When you guys do talk again, you will have more to catch up on.
At the same time, reminding your friend that you’re just a phone call away will allow your friendship to remain strong no matter how many miles separate you. Even though you can’t bring them a pint of ice cream and a copy of their favorite movie after they’ve had a bad day, letting them know that they can talk to you about anything, anytime will comfort them when they’re upset.
Remember the perks!
While long-distance friendships definitely have their difficulties, they can also present opportunities for growth. Having a confidant who isn’t directly involved in your life can be a major perk. You can ask for advice about another relationship in your life and expect unbiased guidance since they probably aren’t friends with the person you’re talking about. They also have a different perspective on your life, as they’re viewing it from afar and are not directly impacted by the decisions you make.
I am often surprised by the clarity and insight my friend provides me with when I ask her about a tough situation I’m facing. It’s easier for us to see each other’s lives from a distance — this doesn’t have to be a bad thing!
No matter what, if the friendship is worth it, you will both make the effort to stay in touch. And, hopefully, the distance will make you appreciate your time together even more.
Originally published on August 16, 2016.