Three of my closest friends live thousands of kilometres away from me, yet I've been able to maintain a deep connection with them. Here's what I've learned over the years that you can use to keep your own long-distance friendships going strong.
Image from peterhellberg.
Keeping these friendships going takes the same thing friendship has always taken: Effort. But the ways you can channel that effort have changed with the rise of technology. The Science of Us outlines some methods for keeping in touch with long-distance friends:
- Share your experiences with them. Whether that's letting them know instantly over WhatsApp or Facebook that you got a promotion, sending a silly Snapchat, or making time to Skype and catch up every few weeks, keeping them in the loop on your life will make you feel closer. I also try to create common experiences with them, like analysing how Sherlock wrapped up, sharing our efforts to make a new enchilada recipe, or what video game to try (Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is awesome).
- Build keeping in contact into a habit. The added effort a long-distance friendship requires can be hard to sustain when you're busy with daily life, but if you make keeping in touch a habit, it makes things much easier. For example, I made a private Facebook group that has two of my far away friends in it, which makes sharing an interesting article or video super easy since I'm usually already on Facebook.
- Meet up in person when you can. Visits are expensive and require time off work or school, but are a key part of maintaining a close friendship. I recently made a trip specifically to visit one of my friends who lives in Hawai'i. Later this year, I'm adding a side trip to visit another friend in Norway after a destination wedding I'm attending in the English countryside. When my long-distance friends are in my area, I make an effort to see them even if it means taking time off work or travelling a little bit to meet them.
- Know that it's going to be hard. Having some of your favourite people live far away from you is incredibly hard. You'll miss them, they will miss you, and an in-person hug is something you really can't replace. Acknowledging the tough moments makes them easier to deal with.
Besides messages over apps and social media, I also often mail my friends abroad cards to let them know I miss them and am thinking about them. Doing something special like that makes me feel connected to them and hopefully makes them feel closer to me, too. Most of us have friends who don't live close by, but that doesn't mean those friendships have to end.
How to Keep a Long Distance Friendship Alive [Science of Us]