Earlier this week Triddles published an incredible piece on maintaining long distance friendships. Unlike, Triddles, I do not live across an ocean from the majority of my friends and family. However, I do live across the country, and even that can be incredibly challenging. I personally have benefited from several of the strategies Triddles uses to maintain her long distrance friendships. I love a good Skype date and I agree that gChat is an invaluable tool for keeping up on your long distance friends’ every day minutia.
Having spent the last 9 years in a different time-zone than most of my closest friends and family I have a few additional long distance friendship survival tips.
- Pretend Like You’re Local Friends: The year after I graduated from college my best-girlfriend Lou and I were inseparable. If we weren’t hanging out, we were on the phone. We would call each other for the silliest reasons. Think, “Lou! I just saw a cute boy!! I should have asked him out!” “Cole! I found a new sweater, it’s awesome AND cheap!” For some reason, when I moved to NYC, we stopped having those types of conversations. We would wait to talk for days or even weeks and then feel overwhelmed because we had so much to tell each other and we needed to block out a whole chunk of time. About a year into living in separate cities we decided to pretend we were local friends again, we started our silly conversations back up. Several years later we’re still at it and we’re closer than ever. Sometimes we still have long chats, but often we will call just to touch base for a few minutes. I have since implemented this trick with several other long distance friends and the result is always positive. It means we talk more often and feel less pressure to make catching up a big to-do.
- FaceTime: Like Triddles, I love Skype. I think it is an incredibly useful tool for keeping in contact with far-away loved ones. I also love FaceTime. If you and your friends are iPhone users FaceTime is an incredible option for keeping in touch. I feel so much closer to someone when I can see their face, their emotional reactions to our conversations, and even their surroundings. What I love about FaceTime is it’s portable. My Mom and I will often chat for just a few minutes to show each other our jewelry, our pets, or the new shirt we bought. It makes me feel ALMOST like we live in the same state.
- Don’t Be Lame: Triddles covered this in her post, but I think it bears repeating. It is incredibly easy to be a lame, lazy friend when you live far away. Maintaining long distance friendships requires time and effort. So if you’re friend wants to chat? Try to chat. If your friend comes to town for one night and they want to meet across town, in the middle of a snowstorm and you would rather sit on your couch? Get off your butt and get out the door. Within reason, make every effort to say yes to your friends. It will make you a better friend and you will be surprised by what you will get in return.
- Invite, Invite, Invite: I spend a fair amount of time and money making sure that I see my far away friends and family as often as possible. I make several trips to the midwest each year. That being said, I also think it is incredible to share my current world with my friends and family. I have the benefit of living in a cool city that people love to visit, but I also make an effort to invite my friends and family to make the trip. Often they don’t accept on the first offer. The trick is to not let that deter you and to not take it personally. Everybody is balancing their own finances and schedule. If someone says no the first time or fails to follow up, I invite them again. Some people never come, but lots of people do. Having visitors is the best. I get to have fun playing hostess and get to introduce people to the life I have created for myself in New York. They get a great vacation. It’s a win-win.