Long-distance friendships are a reality when you’re traveling all over the world as a military family. But how on earth do you make it work when you and your bestie live far apart? We can utilize technology, send gifts and make the most of our actual time together to enhance our bond despite the distance. The most important thing? Effort. Lots of it.
The long and short of it is that relationships take work, and the less convenient it is, the greater the determination required. I have had long-distance friendships over the years, and not all of them are still going strong, but the ones that I truly value are. My best friend and I currently live in different states and we are closer than we have ever been; my family jokes that she is my other husband. Below, I share some of my tips for keeping long-distance friendships going strong over the years.
- Technology is your friend. My best friend and I often have conversations going over email, text, video chat and phone calls. If you look at all our communication methods together you would get the complete picture; we just use whatever is closest at hand and keep going. When she gets a new haircut, she will video call me for my opinion, and if I am having a rough day I can call her late at night and she always picks up. We can usually tell what type of conversation we are going to have by the method and timing of it.
- Have uncomfortable conversations and set expectations. My best friend and I both have kids and jobs and needy husbands, so we know that if something pops up one of us will say “got to go” and immediately hang up. The first time this happened, my feelings were hurt. I was thinking, “Did she really just hang up on me?!” Later, it happened again, and I decided to talk to her about it. It doesn’t mean that we are not important to each other, it simply means that something more pressing came up and we will get back together later. The key is remembering to get back together later…even if it’s just a text to apologize.
- Let them know you are thinking of them. I will routinely tag my friends in online posts or send them funny GIFs that remind me of them. It lets them know that you’re thinking of them and want to share a little moment. We mail packages to each other a few times a year with a cute mug or a funny fridge magnet. It doesn’t have to be grandiose, but the sentiment and extra effort are always appreciated.
- Try to spend some actual time together when you can. My best friend is about a nine-hour drive from me, close enough that it is doable but far enough that it is not something we can do frequently. She travels a lot for work and kids sporting events, so usually she will be close enough to me that I can meet her for a quick meal as she drives past. When you do get together, try to come up with a game plan for what it looks like. Will it be an uninterrupted two-day trip, or will it be a 20-minute coffee?
The strength of your friendship is a direct correlation to the amount of effort you put in. With the endless resources we have available to us today, there is no excuse to let a good friendship fizzle out just because of a little distance. What are your tips for keeping important relationships in your life strong, despite the miles between you?