Friends Wherever: The Long-Distance Friendship

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So first I need to disclose the fact that since starting this post on friendships, I’ve naturally rediscovered the song “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts. Yup, this song has been playing on repeat in my head, along with visions of our beloved characters from Friends falling onto that big comfy couch in the middle of the city.  While I have never blissfully danced around a big beautiful fountain with my friends (although this is totally a life goal), we have had some pretty amazing experiences together throughout the years. But what happens when you or one of those friends moves or no longer lives close by, and that convenience of just “popping over” or meeting at the coffee shop is no longer a possibility? While saying goodbye to a close friend can cause heartache and uncertainty, we do have some control over what happens with these friendships. Sometimes our long-distance friendships can even become some our closest relationships!


Photo by Studio Eiler @studioeiler

We’ve all experienced the reality of saying goodbye to a close friend because of a move.  When you are forced to part ways with close friends, it can be very overwhelming!  The daily experiences with that person that seemed effortless and ingrained in your routine are now gone, and you can be left with a void in your heart.  Even with all of the opportunities that technology has provided us with in order to communicate, that feeling of “being connected” is just different when you don’t see each other as often. 

But “different” doesn’t need to be viewed as doom and gloom! I have had more long-distance friendships than ever since moving to Chicago.  There are so many things that I am personally working on to be a better long distance friend, but I wanted to share a few discoveries that I have made over the past few years that have made my long-distance friendships stronger, almost making me forget about the miles in-between!

A few things that I have learned about long-distance friendships

Is that my phone … (gasp) … ringing??
Okay, I’ll admit that for many years I NEVER used my phone for what it was originally for: talking! Texting and Facebook messaging/writing on “walls” seemed to replace my hours of phone conversations that happened throughout my high school years, moments that I actually grew to miss.  Conversations that flow from one topic to the next and take unexpected turns are so much fun; you never know where they will take you or what you will discover about the other person. Meeting” for a phone date is one of my favorite things to do nowadays with my long-distance friends and family. Even if they are short and unscheduled, talking on the phone is a great way to keep up with long-distance friends and stay close and connected.

*Keeping it real moment!* I wanted to mention my experiences with the phone first because it is on the top of my list of what I personally want to work on in my long-distance friendships. While I have talked on the phone more in the last 3 years than I have since high school, it’s those unscheduled casual phone calls that I want to get better at keeping up with more frequentlyIt’s easier and seemingly less intrusive sometimes to just send a text, but talking with someone on the phone and hearing their voice just makes me feel so happy and connected. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!  How often do you talk with your long-distance friends over the phone?

Create Shared Experiences

Sharing experiences together that you can talk about and reminisce over is a staple to any friendship, but these experiences become fewer when you live far away from each other.  Even though you are not physically near, you can still have shared experiences with your long-distance friends! Pick a TV show that you can both watch and chat about over texts or your phone dates, or choose a book that you can both read and experience together. Call up your friend to ask their opinion on an important decision.  FaceTime during a concert that you’re attending when a song that you both really love is playing, and experience it together. By engaging in new experiences together, you are creating memories that are new and fresh to you both!

Yes, please send me pictures of your food, Snapchats of your dog, a Youtube link to the song you’re listening to, a picture of your new cool shoes, etc.
No seriously, I want to see ALL of these day-to-day happenings and seemingly “routine” pieces of your life!! By keeping each other up to date on your daily lives, you continue to be a part of each other’s experiences.  It only takes a few seconds to send a quick picture or text! So many times, conversations blossom over ordinary topics and experiences.  After all, our lives are made up of these day-to-day experiences, and they are what create the backdrop of our friendships that surround us every day. Why not share these moments with our long-distance friends, too? Sending these small moments is a subtle way of reminding your long-distance friends that you are thinking of them, and that they’re still a part of your every day life.

New traditions, new memories!
Along with the times when you are so lucky to see and spend time with your long-distance friends, it’s so much fun to plan something unique each year that you can definitely mark on your calendar!  You could meet up for a fun race or a concert somewhere between your home bases.  If it’s a college friend, travel back for a football tailgate or a game.  Create a tradition around the holidays if you will both be coming back to your hometowns.  Or, just plan a fun annual weekend together!  By creating these traditions, you have an event on both of your schedules that you can count on and look forward to each year, as well as an opportunity to create new memories in person.


Never stop opening up

Along with your photos and texts that you are sending to make your friend laugh or to share a part of your day that made you think of them, opening up to your long-distance friends about tough moments and times is just as important! Talk to your long-distance friends over the phone just as you would if you met them for after-work drinks to vent about a bad moment or a tough day. Confiding in your friend and showing your vulnerable side puts value on your friendship, and let’s that person know that you appreciate them as your friend enough to share not just the great times, but the not-so-great things, too. It lets them know that you still need their advice and their trust just as you did when you lived closer and were able to share this part of you more frequently and naturally.  It’s important to not lose that comfort with sharing your vulnerable self with your long-distance friends.  Trust comes along with being vulnerable, and trust is one of the strongest foundations of any friendship.

Can you think of someone in your life who you are grateful to have as a long-distance friend?  Or maybe there is someone you have lost touch with because of distance who you would love to get in touch with again, but you’re not quite sure how to reach out or how they will respond.  The only advice I can give you is to just go for it!  Reach out with a text, a memory, a throwback picture, or even a phone call.  Chances are that person misses you too, and would be so excited to reconnect!

Live out loud,
Stephanie =)

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44 thoughts on “Friends Wherever: The Long-Distance Friendship

  1. If I had long distance friends, I’d definitely create the tradition of traveling somewhere together annually. But until then, I’d be fine with texts, calls, and of course pics of their food!

    1. Hi April! Yes, traveling and taking trips is a great way to see your friends and see and experience new places at the same time! And I’m with you on the food pics! Thank you for reading =)

  2. Stephanie this post will really have people evaluating the many excuses they use to explain why they are not nurturing those long-distance (even short distance ) relationships-INCLUDING MYSELF!

    1. Latisha, thank you so much for reading! Writing this post has helped me reflect on my own friendships as well! I appreciate your feedback!

  3. I love that you wrote on this topic! I am seriously the worst at staying in touch with friends. I text them or I send a fb message or write on their walls, but I think the last time I actually talked with a long distant friend was around my birthday. I have a best friend from high school who we can talk and talk for hours when we do talk on the phone and the funny thing is that we always remember each others birthdays and that is our once a year call. I love that we do this, but we definitely should be calling each other more often. Dave, my hubby is amazing at keeping in touch with old friends… he is always getting calls from his friends or calling them. I am super impressed that he does this, but also for the fact that he is a guy and I thought women were supposed to be more relational. I want to get better at this. I loved that you talked about having something that you both share and make sure to call or FaceTime about it! That is one of my favorite things! I never thought i would like snapchat, but I actually got it to be able to snap with one of my close friends who moved away… it is so fun to share small snippets of life with her being silly or having a real convo with dog ears on. I am also very glad that we have become friends, because I think you are great and I think we could have a good long-distance friendship!

    1. Erin, thank you so much for sharing! That is so great that your husband is good about keeping in touch with old friends. I feel like mine is good at it, too! He’s always talking on the phone with his buddies or they all group text each other if they are all watching the same game or something too, which I think is really cool! I also have friends who I only see or talk to on holidays or on my birthday; it’s so amazing how quickly a year can go by too without talking! I also need to get better at staying in touch with these friends more often throughout the year. I love Snapchat for that too! Sharing those day-to-day moments is so fun and a great way to stay connected! And yes, I think that you and I will definitely be great long-distance friends!! =)=) Thanks so much for reading, Erin, and for your support!

    1. I agree, Lucy, they are incredibly rewarding! It’s great that you took that opportunity to go somewhere to study! Thanks so much for reading!

  4. I love this! A close friend moved away a couple winters ago and it sucked. But when we talk or see each other, it is fantastic!

    1. That can be so hard, Lee. I’m so glad that you still see each other and talk! It’s the best when you have the opportunity to see a friend who you haven’t seen in a long time =) So glad that you guys have this connection! Thanks for reading!

    1. Definitely, Alpana! It is so easy to get busy in our lives and lose contact. It’s important that no matter how much time has passed that we still reach out! Thank you for reading!

  5. I was actually just thinking about my best friend in Brooklyn that I don’t talk with nearly enough! Since I moved to the Inland Northwest it’s so hard to do other than text because of the time difference. I’ll have to follow your advice and set up dates with her from now on. Great post!

    1. Good point, Kim! Time difference can definitely get in the way of phone calls! I’ve had this problem before, too! Setting up times that work for both of you is a great idea. I hope you can catch up with your friend from Brooklyn soon! =)

  6. That is how I am with friends just on the other side of my city (because it takes too long to get across Houston). I love how you willing to make a frtiendship work; it is refreshing.

    1. Yes, this can happen in bigger cities, too! I guess it’s all about finding times and opportunities when you can meet halfway or make the trip across the city. It can be hard sometimes! Thanks so much for reading, Michele =)

  7. Thanks for this post! Some of my closest friends are long-distance friends and it’s great to hear about all the different ways we can keep these relationships strong. Personally I’m pretty bad at talking on the phone (I will alway send a text first like, “Hey can I call you this evening?”) because I’m worried about interrupting people, but at the same time it’s so nice to hear their voice on the phone.

    Another really nice gesture is sending someone a present or something that reminded you of them, as a way of letting them know you’re thinking about them. I’m working on being a more thoughtful long-distance friend too 🙂

    1. Dawy, I do the same thing with calling people! I have this internal dialogue with myself and I am convinced that I will be interrupting their day. I always am so happy that I called though when I actually do! Even if it’s just to leave a voicemail if my call doesn’t go through. I love your idea of sending a gift to a long-distance friend if you find something that reminds you of them! I’m sure that would make them feel SO special =) Great thoughts!!

    1. Priscilla, I’m sure with children this does lead to less time to keep up with friends. It’s never too late to reach out though! I’m sure your friends would love to get reconnected/catch up and hear about your life and your kids! =) Thank you for reading!

  8. Growing up in the 80s without internet and Facebook was sad. We moved every other year around and left our friends behind, of course we promised for ever friendship but even sending after many months a letter did not work, friends lived we moved. Today living abroad a share photos , what I am I am doing and everyone on the globe knows what’s going on, love your blog hope a lot of people read it

    1. That would be difficult, Dieter! Growing up we had Instant Messenger which helped and then Facebook came around when I was in college. I can’t imagine how it would be to keep in touch with others before this time! Thank goodness for technology, right? So glad that you are now able to share all of your fun experiences abroad!! Thank you for your kind words, and for reading!!

    1. Shelby, that’s so great to hear!! Yes, they can be some extra work and effort, but they are SO worth it!! =)=)

  9. I love this article! I can relate so much bc I just moved away from my best friends in NYC. But it’s funny bc my best friend and I are closer than ever bc of our constant exchange of texts, snaps, vids. It’s great 🙂

    1. Thank you, Kristin! Wow that must have been so hard to move away from NYC and your friends. I love that you and your best friend are closer than ever now though! I can definitely relate to that with a couple of my friends who I had to move away from, too! Those quick texts and snaps totally help us stay connected, right?? Thank you for reading!!

  10. Love reading this because it reminds me of what I need to get better at but also what I do well! I love that our high school friends plan annual get togethers and those are some of my favorite memories!

    1. Merrisa, I love our annual get togethers too!! They are some of my favorite memories. Do you remember when we all went to college how we would send email “letters” to each other too for a while that first year? I wonder if I still have those! They would be so fun to go back and read =) Thanks so much for reading! I’m so grateful to have you as a friend!

  11. I moved away from home to a different country about a year ago and I was scared it would take a toll on my friendships but some of the things mentioned above really helped ensure that distance didn’t create any issues for us. Most of my friendships are better than before.

    1. Wow Nabeeda, that’s so amazing that you moved to a different country!! I can see how that would create uncertainty with friendships. I’m so glad to hear that your friendships are even stronger than before, and that you are keeping in touch with those important people from home!

  12. I have a few friends that are hours a way and we love getting together. I had one friend that moved to Arizona and our lives were Snapchat. We would FaceTime the big moments and I was always just a call away. Thankfully she moved back to the area and we see each other every other weekend. I will be the first to say I suck at long distance but I do let them know they are loved and on my heart.

    1. Snapchat is great for sending little snippets of your life! I am so happy for both of your friendships that she moved back and that you two can see each other more often! That so great that you kept in contact during her time away =) I’m sure you two picked up right where you left off when she moved back!! Long-distance friendships are hard, but letting your friends know that they are loved even once in a while is the most important thing you can do =) Thanks for reading, Megan!

  13. Stephanie, this post is spot on! After my best friend moved to West Virginia I found that our friendship grew into a different type of “experience” and we remain close even after 26 years of geographical distance. I look forward to our phone conversations and catching up on a regular basis. Sometimes life gets in the way and the time gap between our conversations makes it seem like forever since our last call. But when we do talk it’s like no time has passed. I cherish each and every telephone get together.

    By the way, I do so enjoy our coffee chat telephone conversations too. They help make the miles between us a little more tolerable. My compliments to Studio Eiler @studioeiler for the whimsical picture.

    1. Hi mom! Your relationship with your bestie in West Virginia has always inspired me, and I am so happy that you two have stayed in contact for so long and continue to have that strong friendship. It is true that life gets in the way and time between phone calls goes by, but I know that they two of you always pick up right where you left off, and that you know that you can always count on each other. I also LOVE our coffee dates and look forward to those just as much as our real coffee dates =) I will send your compliments to the photoshop artist! 😉

    1. Yes, Mishelle, this is such a great idea! I am also trying to do these things more with my friends close by to strengthen our friendships.

  14. I have one true long-distance friends. I’m such a bad friend. She is ALWAYS the person that contacts me every now and then, lol. I’m not one to talk on the phone, though, so that’s my excuse for not keeping in touch with her, unless she contacts me. 😀

    1. Shannon, thank you for reading! The fact that your friend keeps in contact with you shows just how much you mean to her and how much she considers you a good friend =)

  15. I have a few long distance friendships. No matter how much time lapses before we see each other we just pick right on up where we left off ❤️

    1. That is so special, Monique!! That truly shows just how strong your relationships are =) I have a few friends like that too, especially my friends from college! I am always SO excited to see them, and it’s almost like we were never apart!

  16. Some of my best friends and I live in different cities too. We started a group on WhatsApp to chat and our shared experiences are mostly motherhood. I was a birth partner to one of my friends’ children. Love your post.

    1. Hi Melissa! WhatsApp is such a great way to stay connected, and so easy for large groups! Wow that is so amazing that you were able to be a birth partner to one of your friends’ children?! Such a special experience!! Thank you for sharing and for reading =)

  17. Wow! This is an amazing post and you totally hit the nail on the head. I moved to Florida two years ago and have struggled big time with making new friends, but it’s funny how I’ve become closer to my friends from back home. I’ve open up to them a lot about my loneliness and homesickness, which has helped a lot. This was beautifully written, and I’m excited to follow along with your future posts!

    1. Thank you so much, Kate! I’ve opened up to my long-distance friends about the same kinds of feelings, and I think it has helped strengthen our relationships so much. It is important that they know how you are feeling so that they can be there for you! When I moved to Chicago I also had a hard time making friends and longed to be back home with my friends and family! I think that this is something that everyone goes through with a major life change like this. It’s so awesome to hear that you have become closer with your friends back home! That must make for some fun visits when you get to see each other! Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts and personal connections!

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