4 Tips for Maintaining Long Distance Friendships

The Importance of Friendships:

We all at one point have had to leave friends behind. Maybe due to moving as a kid, leaving to attend college elsewhere, or pursuing dreams and goals in other cities or states. We never just want to leave the special people who impacted us, but maintaining long-distance friendships can be extremely difficult. 
I am a 3rd year college student. I had an amazing group of friends in high school who truly became my family. Just because we are all now in different states, I am unwilling to let our friendships fade completely away. We cannot live in the illusion that the friendship will remain as strong as when we were living in the same city, attending the same school every day, but we can maintain that kind of friendship that awakens whenever we are reunited. 
Additionally, maintaining friendships is an important part of social health. In order to be truly healthy, we need a pack of people that we can depend on, fall back on, and that we know care for our genuine selves. It is almost impossible to be emotionally well without a family of loving individuals around us. Friends can also benefit our other areas of health by being supportive forces. If we allow every friend that we leave behind to become a stranger, our pack will dwindle.

Here are my 4 tips to maintain long-distance friendships:

1.      Make sure to have scheduled talks. We cannot maintain friendships without regular conversation. It is so important that we show the other individual that their life, however distant, is important to you. I have done this in a few ways. With my high school family, I have regular skype dates. We are not always consistent or perfect, but we put in the effort regularly to catch up with each other. With my camp friends, I write letters. There is nothing more meaningful than a hand-written letter. It is a great way to stay in touch and have a special memento to keep. I like to send pictures or little gifts in my letters—it adds a personal touch. Either of these methods and many more are appropriate for this point! Choose what works for you and your friends. 
2.      Contact them when something reminds you of them. I am constantly reminded of my friends by things that I see throughout the day. If I have my friend’s favorite type of ice cream, I will send them a little message or give them a quick call. If I hear a song my friend and I used to sing, I will contact her and talk about that memory! It is really easy to be reminded of someone and then say, “I’ll text her about it later,” when we should be immediately sending them a note. It can spur conversation, reawaken forgotten memories, and give your long-distance friendship some sustenance.

3.      If you ever are in the same place at the same time, make them a priority. A few of my friends live in the same city as my sister, so, whenever we head down to visit her, I make sure to contact them and plan a meetup. It doesn’t have to be a long, complex event; just a simple coffee date will do. I find that the best conversation flows over coffee. 

4.      Make an effort to visit them whenever possible. I like to attempt an annual visit at least, which, as a college student especially, can be impossible at times. However, as I grow older, join a career, and make money of my own, I definitely intend to plan annual trips with my friends. Two of my friends and I used to ski together in high school. I hope that when we are financially able we will be able to rent a ski cabin together once a year and make a little vacation out of it. One good idea for a friend reunion trip inspired by the amazing movie, Wine Country, is a little wine tasting weekend to the Tri-Cities! Read my sister's post about her experience wine tasting and her suggestions for a great trip here.

Make Your Journey Your Own:

There exists no set-in-stone method to maintain each and every friendship. I have had plenty of friends who have drifted away, and it was probably for the best. However, I think it is important to at least attempt to keep every healthy and constructive relationship in my life alive. These 4 tips have allowed me to maintain friendships after months or years of separation which allows some of the best memories in my life to live on through those relationships. As you head off to the next chapter of your life, remember that you do not have to leave anyone behind!