How to maintain a long-distance friendship

June 22, 2015

long-distance-relationship1I am the queen of the long distance relationship and that includes friendships. My policy is, why let geography limit you?

Here’s why: because it means you can’t be there in person when you want. And that was never more true that recently, when someone dear to me and 3,000 miles away needed help.  It isn’t easy to be there in person in times of need. Not impossible, just harder. (I may be going at some point, waiting to see.) Long distance friendships ARE more difficult.

But as far as day-to-day friendships, I have to say that I am closer with some people thousands of miles away than I am with those who are geographically nearby.  I know how to keep those friendships alive and vibrant and I’m going to share my tips with you. Because I’m certain you know someone many miles away who you’d like to keep closer.

Storypeople/Brian Andreas

Storypeople/Brian Andreas

Let’s start with the obvious:

Facebook. Nothing easier for day to day comments and sharing than Facebook. I love Facebook for keeping distant friendships alive.  But I don’t rely on just Facebook. That would be cold.

The telephone.  Remember that? It has numbers and each friend is associated with a unique number. If you dial it, you can actually talk with them in person! Yes, it’s true. You have a phone, use it. I use it for my distant dear ones. And I don’t mean for texts.

I really do hate text messaging for personal messages like birthdays or real check-ins. It’s distancing. If you are a good friend of mine and can’t pick up the phone or think to send a card? Shame on you! Reminder: if you’re going to wish me a happy birthday on July 23, do it with a card or a call. Even an email. Although really, if it’s my birthday and you and I are close friends? I do not want an email from you. I really don’t. Here’s what I want:

Cards.  On my birthday or if I am sick, I want a card with a personal note from my dear friends. Hey, look, the dollar store sells them two for a buck. Actually, a long personal letter would be dandy. You can even type it. I just want more than a few words over wires. Yeah, call me old school.

Remember occasions.  Related to cards. Hey, if I graduated, got a new job or had something published? Just like my birthday, I want a card. I want an acknowledgment that you know me well-enough to congratulate me with a note and card. Or a call! Yes, talk to me in person! Let me tell you all about my latest husband! or Riley’s graduation from training!

book-design-Inspiration-4Send books. Oh, I love this one. A long-time friend in Santa Fe and I exchange books we think the other –or our husbands, or both–would enjoy via snail mail.  I love passing along books I enjoyed but don’t want to keep. Easy enough to get a padded envelope. Send it without a note and you qualify for discounted media rate. (It used to be called book rate but now it’s media rate.)  She just sent us two books via Amazon, and that’s another option, too. Free shipping for Prime members!  I do this with my nephew, as well.  Nothing more intimate than a book you know the other would like.

Gift packages. I love to give little presents and I do. A small padded envelope, a little box of tiny treasures to say “I was thinking of you!” is a great way to keep a relationship lively. My soul sister and I live 3,000 miles away but we have spiritual matters in common. A few weeks ago I sent her a Reiki-charged candle, a Celtic knot necklace and some healing stones, all picked out with her in mind when I was at a conference. It wasn’t a big package, but I knew she’d like it.  She’s sent me similar things, too. A Zentangler friend has sent me tangles and even a how-to.

The answer to keeping a long distance friendship strong is to show the friend that s/he is in your thoughts often and to maintain a connection beyond an electronic one.

Because when push comes to shove, we want our dearest friends to be more than a name on a screen. And definitely not type on a phone’s text screen.

Now, it’s true that from time to time, a long-distance friend does not reciprocate the contact. For them, it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I have a couple of those, and they’re the ones I stop initiating contact with. It’s ok–there’s a reason, a season…. all that jazz. Fortunately, I have more than enough friends who give as good as they get. You know who you are, we probably just got off the phone.

How do you keep your long distance friendships strong? Inquiring minds want to know in the Comments section!


30 comments on “How to maintain a long-distance friendship
  1. Mrs Tubbs says:

    Excellent ideas, thank you. Ministry has taken us away from friends and we find things like FB and Twitter really helpful for keeping in touch.

  2. facebook is a wonderful thing for feeling close to friends who are a long way away, but I totally agree about sending cards! I love getting a card with a personal message in it (not just to:…. from….) your little gifts sound really nice too. ~ Leanne

  3. This post could have been written by me! I am also the queen of long distance which has included long distance marriage for the past year and a half as my husband has been traveling all over the place and while I stay “home” to sell the house. Your ideas are all perfect. Texting and FaceTime are my favs to keep in touch and my best friend and I who live thousands of miles away had an extended girls weekend this past April which was perfect! Thanks for a fun post!

  4. pia says:

    Great ideas!
    I speak to my best friend who moved to Atlanta and my sister, on the phone, every day. Sometimes they drive me crazy calling. Other times I’m sure I do.

    I hate hate hate handwriting, (mine), but I always keep a supply of cards and send one to other friends every two months or so.

    And my vacations have turned into friendcations but I have the urge to go far away so….

  5. Liz Mays says:

    I’m definitely not a fan of the text messages on occasions. That being said, I understand it’s a shift in generations, and I accept that it’s how people communicate these days.

  6. I haven’t had much experience with long distance friendships but I’m learning more and more every day!

  7. Robin Herman says:

    I watch TV sports events with long-distance friends and we text one another during the action. It’s almost like they’re right next to me exchanging comments and jokes. It forges surprising closeness. I regularly watch tennis with a friend in Florida and one in NYC; basketball with a friend in LA and football with a dear cousin in a neighboring town as well as the LA friend.

  8. Amy says:

    I love getting hand written thank yous and other notes. I also love to use email. Hate texting. I still send party invitations via snail mail at times. My husband and I have hosted many parties for friends and family over the years. But we’ve gotten so we prefer smaller gatherings now. I love inviting a couple of friend over for dinner and real conversation. Parties are so hectic, they don’t allow for quality time with each person. So we’re going to start doing more smaller things like that. We do host a big Oktoberfest party each year, which we’ll continue to do. It’s fun. But, yes, times change and we do have to adjust to them to a certain extent, but we also have to do what feels right to us.

  9. Diane says:

    I need this! I am the worst, the very worst at maintaining friendships! Making special note of all of your tips!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I love these Carol. I have a lot of long distance friendships. Cards always!! That whole texting of birthday wishes is so impersonal. I don’t use FB for it very much, but the phone is a great big, yes! Funny how we forget that one. There’s nothing like hearing their voice!!

  11. I am looking forward to seeing 6 of my friends from junior high school when I’m in NYC next month – we may not talk often, but it’s always such a great time when we get together!

  12. Britney says:

    This is really great! I have some friends that I like to keep in touch with that are far away!

  13. Carolann says:

    I happen to agree with you on all points. A friendship can be maintained from a distance and yes it’s harder but can be done. I don’t know many folks that actually do those things, but it would be lovely indeed if they did. You always write about such thought provoking topics…I just adore thinking about what you post.

  14. Alicia says:

    These are great ideas for staying in touch … really love the idea of sending a book.

  15. These are all great ideas. Some of my best friends live on the other side of the country but the minute we get together, it’s like no time has passed. That’s the best!

  16. Lana says:

    Most of my friendships are long distance ones these days. I still enjoy sending/receiving a hand written note. Texting is fine for quick hellos, but nothing compares to getting a letter in the mail! Great tips, Carol.

  17. What great tips. I need to work on staying in touch better with long distance family members.

  18. That takes commitment and dedication. Good for you.

  19. Elena Peters says:

    Isn’t technology great though? Out of all my siblings, I am closest to my sister who lives in the UK. I remember when our only contact was by letter. Long distance phone calls were way too expensive. But now through our glorious phones we are in constant contact all day. I know where she is and what she’s doing pretty much at any time of day. I know when she’s sad, stressed, happy.
    It’s almost like being there. Long distance relationships can be very satisfying. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Hasn’t worked for me in the past. And actually all of this new technology can be used for spite if things go south in a relationship. With new technology, we get new forms of tools to hurt people and more.

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