Friends are actually the worst. They invest in you. They spend time with you. And encourage and give you a hug when you’re at your lowest. Plus, how else would you find out about the latest Buzzfeed quiz? (P.S. I found out that bad boy Gaston would turn good for me!) Friends are the worst because they making leaving so very difficult. And being infected with the wanderlust bug, I know I’ll always be on the move with a new trip or semester abroad planned. These past few months have made me feel incredibly blessed for my lifelong friend Riley. There’s a plethora of posts on long distance relationships, but I’ve found long distance friendships can be just as tricky. So here’s a few tips to cultivate your long distance friendship.
This is easily the most important item on this list. Don’t let your long distance friendship fall through the cracks, and fight for that deep bond. Riley and I set up a time to call each other every weekend. Life gets crazy. New friends will come into your life; your schedule may completely flip flop. But take a break from the mound of homework, opt out of a social outing, skip the nap so you can spend thirty minutes to an hour catching up with your bestie. Set aside a weekly or monthly time to have a Skype date because if you’re not both choosing to keep this friendship alive, it can fade all too fast.
Appreciate the blessing.
Long distance can be painful, but there can be good in the goodbye. My heart aches for my Friday afternoon chats with Riley at Steak ’n Shake or Chick-fil-A. I miss having her four minutes away from my house. I miss dinner at Chipotle, life talks over Starbucks and car jamming. While typing these things out makes me long for those precious times, I also realize what a blessing it is to simply experience those moments period. Long distance is painful because the friendship you have is a beautiful thing. Celebrate and cherish that.
It may have been easy to just drop by your bestie’s house to watch a movie or grab coffee together. But with miles between you two, possibly a time change and maybe a border, this friendship may not be as simple as it was before. You may have to get up early or stay up late to squeeze in a FaceTime call. Homework and work may be neglected for a time, but friendship takes sacrifice and investment. You may have to pay a hefty airfare or endure a long car ride, but friendship is worth the cost. Riley recently visited me and stayed in my eensy-teensy room. Her queen size air mattress easily took up 80% of the open floorspace, but it didn’t matter because I could spend several days with her.
In times of change, cling to the constant.
While my Insta feed may not show it, this year has been rough. Moving away from home and having to start over with friends, routine and community have been a challenge. And somedays I just think, I just wish I could hang out with Riley and go back to the way things were. But unfortunately (and fortunately), life is not static. While I’ve endured more change in these past few months than I’ve experienced in the past decade, it’s been so encouraging to cling to my friendship with Riley. We may not be able to stroll through the mall and gush over our Andy’s ice cream (hot fudge and peanut butter all the way!), but holding on to the friendship that still exists and thrives has provided me with so much joy. Life may be up and down, but hold tightly to steady, strong friendships when the waves are rough.
Point out growth and change in your friend.
I believe distance can be one of the most valuable things in life. Distance gives you perspective and understanding of your past and even your friends. While Riley and I did any and everything together before, we’ve now reached a point in our lives where we’ve made new friends and are exploring our passions without each other by our sides—at least in a literal sense. But this distance provides you with so much wisdom to pour into your friend. While you may have new friends after a move, they haven’t known you as long or deeply as a lifelong best friend. Riley has encouraged me by pointing out ways I’ve grown as a person as she’s known me for almost five years. And distance and limited contact can even make it easier to have hard conversations because it forces you to be totally honest and to-the-point.
Make the most of your time together.
The beautiful thing about long distance friendship is that it’s not forever distance. You will reunite; you will see each other again. And when you do spend time with your bestie, make the most of your time together. You may be home for only a weekend; you may have to work. But do everything to bend over backwards for the person who has hugged you as you’ve sobbed and who has laughed so hard she cried with you.
Long distance friendship isn’t easy, but I’ve found my friendship with Riley has grown and deepened in ways it never could have if we still lived four minutes away from each other. Her recent visit made it that much more precious because of the distance; our temporary separation has made me realize what an incredible friend I have. Take some time to reflect on the immense blessing you’ve found in community and cherish each deep, long distance friendship.