How to Keep Your Long Distance Friendships Strong
In grade school, our friends are “the girls we can’t live without.” We make promises of being best friends forever, and might have even “planned” our lives together.
But after high school graduation, what’s next?
You won’t be eating lunch together on the courtyard planters anymore, or giving each other a quick hug when you pass in the hall. In fact, you won’t even see each other five days a week anymore. In part two of my Back to College series, I’ll be talking about ways to keep your long distance friendships strong.
It’s a hard step to take in the transition between high school and post grad life, but as fast as life moves forward, so do we.
I have my very own girl group, many of whom I have gone to school with since I was 6 years old. At 18, going to school without them was unimaginable.
Three years later, we all live separate lives in separate states and timezones, but luckily technology has been able to keep us close together. We have a distinct advantage of several social mediums to keep in touch with friends, including instant communication, which you shouldn’t overlook or take for granted.
Keep a Conversation Going
Fortunately, we have ways to message and communicate with each other instantaneously. This means, even if your friends are across the country, or the world, you can still keep a conversation going. Whether you’re talking back and forth, or you drop each other occasional messages, it’s still a way to feel close even when they’re far away.
My friends and I have a group message that we’ve kept and maintained since we were in high school. Nearly every day, the group message is buzzing with conversation. Rarely do we get all four of us on at the same time, but on the occasion we do it feels just like we’re sitting together and talking. There’s a certain sense of humor, or range of jokes only they understand, and when any of us see something that reminds us of one of the others we send it there. Sometimes it’s a refresh of an inside joke, sometimes it’s a funny article, and sometimes it’s just “I miss you guys”.
It serves as a place for us to drop messages to each other throughout the week. It’s a great tool to have because even when all four of us are busy, we can still pick up and respond when we can. It’s also a quick tool to send little thinks that say “thinking of you.”
Plan Times to Video Chat
Often times, texting and messaging can’t make up for some solid time face to face. Unfortunately, that’s not always possibly when you live in three different states, and three different timezones. Usually a couple times a year, the four of us try to schedule a time to Skype each other. That way, we can see each other face to face and talk. It’s still not talking in person, but it’s second best. It’s still fun to be able to see each other and hear each other talking.
Because scheduling a chat in three different time zones can be difficult, we usually try to plan ahead a week in advance to find a day we’re all available. Then we try to find a time we can all get online at the same time. Luckily for us, the friends in timezones ahead don’t mind staying up late if we have to schedule into the evening.
Make Time to See Each Other on Breaks
This can be one of the hardest parts in maintaining a close friendship. When you were in high school, you saw your friends in class or at lunch. As much as you may hate to admit it, school was a place that scheduled for you and your friends to see each other. Now that you’ve graduated, there is no set time or place you have to see each other. You’ll probably come home from college for a winter break, and possibly for summer. During these times, your family will want to spend time with you because they’ve missed you too.
However, you can’t forget about your friends. They want to see you too, as much as your family does. It’s important to schedule time to see them while you’re back in town. This might be the hardest part of maintaining your relationship. When the four of us are back in town for Christmas, we usually try to meet at least once for lunch or coffee. It’s not the same as the hours long mall hangouts or the sleepovers we used to have on the weekends, but it’s enough to catch up with each other.
Allow Each Other a Little Space
As you each begin your new chapter of your lives, you’ll see and hear about all the things your friends are doing. You’ll see them posting photos with new friends, and joining clubs and organizations you aren’t a part of. They’re at their own new school, finding their place in their new home.
While it might make you sad to see them doing things without you, remember you’re doing new things with the people you meet at school too. Part of your relationship growing up with you through college is knowing you’re now leading separate lives. This doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten you, or don’t want to be friends with you. They’re simply experiencing the campus culture they have around them. You should too.
When they come home from college, they’ll have time to catch up with you, and you can do the all the things you used to do in high school.
Don’t forget: a simple text every now and then is enough to remind them you’re thinking of them, when you go a little far from each other.