I received an overwhelming response to my essay on friendship last month, so I’m back at it again. This time, with a few tips! But first, let’s chat. Being a grown-up is hard. One of the things I’ve always prided myself on is being a good friend. Over the years, I’ve identified loyalty as one of my best qualities. You see, I always chose my friends and family over myself. I would go out of my way to be there for them and do thoughtful things just to show I care. I was extremely dependable and would never cancel plans. When I moved away for my freshman year of college, I continued to make an effort to talk to friends back home. Sophomore year, I switched schools, but stayed in contact with both my hometown friends and St. Ambrose friends, all while making new friends in Ames. After college, I relocated to Madison, which opened up an entirely new pool of friends in a new state. Move after move, it became more and more difficult to keep up.
A year and a half ago when I moved it Fort Wayne, I knew it would become even harder to stay in touch with friends in all of my former circles. Between working (a lot), putting more effort into my blog and spending a great deal of my time with Brian, I’ve became a pretty bad friend. And not just a bad friend — but a shitty daughter and sister, too. Guys, I don’t know how it’s done! I watch these shows with all of the friends and family living in one place (Modern Family, FRIENDS, How I Met Your Mother, This Is Us, etc.) and I always imagine my life would be that way. I’d live with my boyfriend, have weekly dinners with my sisters and go to brunch with my girlfriends every Sunday. We’d have couple friends that we regularly hung out with and I’d never feel lonely or homesick — because everyone I love would be nearby. Wishful thinking, right?
I really hope my friends know that although my communications may be few and far between, I’m still thinking about them ALWAYS. It feels horrible knowing that your friendships are no longer what they once were, but I am truly making an effort to do better. I’ve been practicing 3 habits in an effort to better maintain my long distance friendships. I have a sneaky feeling that some of you are feeling the same way, so hopefully we can help each other out.
3 Tips for Maintaining Long-Distance Friendships
1. Schedule a Regular Call
I know it can be hard to commit to the same time every week, but having a regular day in which you and your bestie facetime or chat on the phone makes it so much easier and more likely to happen. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to always Facetime on Mondays at 7, put a bunch of reminders in your phone. At any given time, I have 5 reminders telling me to text Kast, call Eric or Facetime Dani. When life gets the best of you, simple phone alarms can remind you to slow down and reconnect with your people.
2. Send Them Snail Mail
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I still send snail mail since I have the soul of a little grandmother. But, this is something that I still pride myself on. I (try to) send cards for holidays, birthdays, thank yous and sometimes, just because. My mom and sisters do a good job of this, so I think they just rubbed off on me. It sounds so silly, but when I receive a card in the mail for no reason at all, it means SO much to me — more than a text or Facebook message ever would. I couldn’t tell you the number of cards my friend Katie and I have sent each other in the past year and it always brings a smile to my face knowing someone was thinking about me enough to get out pen and paper and write.
3. Make Plans Together
If there is one thing that helps me more than anything while living far away, it’s having plans to look forward to. When I leave home and know that I’ll be home again on a certain date, it makes the wait so much easier. I am always looking to the future to make plans with friends. Whether I plan a trip to visit them or we decide to go to a concert together, knowing the next time I’ll see them makes the distance a little easier and communication much more consistent. Of course, those who live really far away from friends can’t do this regularly. I get it. I see some of my friends only once a year. But, the second one trip ends, I start mentally planning the next. It makes a huge difference for me.
So, what do you all do to maintain your long-distance friendships? Do you struggle just as much as I do? Please tell me I’m not alone! Comment below and let’s chat!
Until next time —