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5 Ways to Maintain & Level Up Long-Distance Friendships

If you’ve ever had a long-distance friendship, you know that staying in touch is tough. Maintaining friendships with friends overseas can feel downright impossible at times! Don’t give up yet, I’ve rounded up five simple (and fun) ways to keep your long-distance relationships going strong!

Long Distance Friendships

1. Let them know they are on your mind

The adage “out of sight, out of mind” can increase the distance in your friendship.  Make sure to reach out occasionally to let your friends know that they are still front and center in your life.   

An out of the blue compliment is an easy way to do this! Everyone appreciates being told they are brave or kind. Those compliments mean even more from a friend, especially one they don’t see every day. A surprise compliment is a subtle way to reinforce your relationship. 

Don’t stop there, show your friend support.  You don’t have to be there physically to know that your friend is having a hard time with Karen at work or is hustling hard to pay down those student loans. Asking how things are going does wonders, but make sure to go the extra mile.  Remind them that they should be proud of themselves and are handling things well!

Build on your bond by sharing facebook memories or old photos with them to reminisce. A trip down memory lane is a tried and true way to bring people together. Not only does this reaffirm your friendship, but it’s a promise to create new memories and traditions together.

Show some love, support, and double down on your existing bond. By reaching out and being a part of a friend’s daily life will make it feel like you are right there with them!

2. Celebrate birthdays, long-distance style

Birthday baloons

Missing the big moments together can put a strain on even the best of friendships. When a video call doesn’t feel special enough and a party is out of the question, kick things up a notch by celebrating the old school way.

Mail a birthday card. Yes, a paper card by snail mail with a REAL note. Use the whole left side of the card to write a message. It doesn’t have to be your life’s work. Funny memories, catching them up on your life, and reminding them of why you love them will brighten their day. You’ll get serious bonus points for it being the only piece of mail that wasn’t a bill.  

Send them a few small anonymous gifts during the week and finish up with a call on their big day. You can package them all up at once and drop them at the post office during your lunch break. If you’re short on time, try shopping online. Most stores will let you include a gift note. On Amazon, many items will have a box to mark as a gift and some even offer gift wrapping. If you’re a Prime Member, there’s no better way to use your free shipping perks! I’ve done this a few times. One of my friends was completely baffled by the gift, but her boyfriend knew that it was from me immediately! Another friend had been talking about trying to start a better home workout routine, so I had her protein powder gift wrapped. She called me about three seconds after she opened the box, squealing with delight. 

Long-distance friendships present unique challenges, but they also present opportunities for new traditions. Sending gifts and cards in the mail gives you a physical presence in your friend’s life, even when you’re far away.

3. Shake it Up

Texting is easy, but it can get stale. Have a little fun with it beyond your usual gifs. Use your finger to draw pictures or write messages. If you have an iPhone, send an animoji. I do this with one of my friends so often that we each have signature animals. Most of the time the messages are stupid, but they always crack us up! 

If animoji isn’t an option, do a short video or audio recording. I have a friend that sends me audio messages instead of texts. I can honestly say that just hearing her voice brings a smile to my face! We live in different cities and struggle to make video chats happen, so those recordings make such a difference.

Snapchat them, do an embarrassing TikTok in their honor, or tag them in your stories. You’re on social media every day and probably tagging them anyway.  Instead of letting that cute dog video be the highlight, put your friend front and center.

If you don’t already have one, get a group chat going! It’s wonderful to have one-on-one convos, but sometimes adding friends into the mix can breathe new life into things. You can schedule video calls together or plan virtual work sessions. If you want something a little more flexible, try Houseparty to throw a virtual party!

 With long-distance friendships, it’s important to make an effort to move things forward.  You don’t want to get stuck in a cycle of sending the same messages over and over.  Putting a new spin on your messaging keeps things fresh and exciting.

4. Share a Hobby

When you live far away from your buds, you miss a lot of bonding opportunities.  Instead of meeting for happy hours or going to the movies together, you’re stuck staring at a computer screen. The good news is, there are lots of ways to have quality bonding time over the internet.  

Read a book together. There’s nothing like a good (or bad) story to bring people together for a discussion, whether it’s two people or your whole squad. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can still share the experience. Make plans to video chat when you’re both done to have a serious convo about it and send texts as you read to get each other excited. You can even invited other friends and start an online book club!

Try an at-home craft and sip. There are tons of DIY projects in a box these days. Find one that you both like and do it together via video chat! If there isn’t an option that delivers to both of your locations, keep it simple. You can do a drawing tutorial on youtube or download the same knitting pattern from Ravelry. I love to facetime and paint with my friends! It’s a nice change of pace from our usual video chat and even gets a little bit messy. Sometimes we even include significant others or family members! 

If you’re not into any of those things, pick something that you both love! There are plenty of video games you can play together, apps to listen to music, or watch youtube videos. You can even watch a movie with an app like Netflix Party or Watch2Gether. Sharing an experience is a wonderful way to get closer to the people you love!

5. Take a Trip

Face-to-face time is so important, but when you live far away it can be tricky to pull off. Traveling is the perfect option to make it a priority. If you’re short on time, pick a location that is halfway between you two. That will cut down on transit time and leave more room for what matters — seeing your friend!

Bonding over new foods and wild adventures will bring you closer together. If the cost of flights is a concern, plan your trip well in advance and keep an eye out for flight deals. (Pro Tip: Set trackers on google flights.) This is also a great option for groups to have a reunion abroad. Make a list of everywhere people want to visit and don’t worry about the distance. As long as nobody has a problem shelling out the cash for a ticket, the destination is fair game.

If you love the great outdoors and need a budget-friendly option, take a camping trip. Checkout national parks in your home country, or if money is no object, go overseas or book a bucket list trek. The options are endless and you’ll both appreciate getting away from the noise of daily life to reconnect with each other. 

Life can get crazy and it’s hard to find enough time in the day for everything. When you add in juggling time-zones and conflicting schedules, long-distance friendships are uniquely challenging. But, with the internet and a little creativity, you will be closer to your friends than ever! 

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