My friendships are everything to me. When I got engaged a few weeks ago, I was almost as excited to ask my bridesmaids to be in the wedding as I was to find an engagement ring (sorry, Ken). I’m lucky to have a lot of close friends, and I put a lot of effort into helping those relationships thrive — especially now that I live in Europe, while most of my friends are in America.
When I moved to the Netherlands last year, the hardest part of my transition wasn’t the language or missing my family; it was being on a different continent and time zone than my closest friends. Below are a few of the ways that my friends and I have been able to make our long distance friendships work. Some of the following links may be affiliate links, so if you choose to buy any books or gifts through me, thank you in advance for supporting the blog!
Make time for a weekly call, even if it’s just for 20 minutes
The friends that I’ve been able to stay the closest to despite the distance are same ones I call with regularly. Whether it’s Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, or two cans on a string, find a way to check in with each other once a week to talk about the big stuff. I find that the best way to do this is to call once a week at the same time every week.
…But call during the little moments, too
Of course, your calls don’t need to be confined to weekly check-ins. One of my friends and I also FaceTime sometimes while she gets ready for work (which is in the afternoons for me). This is a really fun way to stay in touch, and it feels like we’re back in college with rooms next door to each other, getting ready for class together.
Have dinner together
Another way to check in with your friends is with the occasional dinner together. My friend Taylor is 6 hours behind me, so sometimes we’ll share a meal over Skype — she’ll bring lunch and I’ll have dinner, and we’ll talk about whatever’s on our minds as though we’re back in our college dining hall.
Watch the same TV shows and movies
One way my brother and I keep in touch now that I live abroad is by watching the same TV shows and movies. You can do this at the same time through a website like Rabbit, or just watch at your own pace and talk fan theories with each other over messenger.
Read the same book
You can also try a ‘book club’ with your friends by all reading the same book and talking about it over either Skype or messenger. I’ve tried this one, but it’s hard to do if some of your friends are still in college, when pleasure reading time is scarce. See what your friends can commit to and give it a shot. I recommend something not too serious to get the ball rolling.
Try emailing regularly for a change of pace
On the other hand, messaging each other frequently can sometimes feel a little frantic and get in the way of real connection. That’s why I email back and forth with one friend of mine, instead of talking over chat. Once a week or so, we’ll each send each other a long email about everything going on with us — what we’re reading, where we are in reruns of The West Wing, how our families are doing, how work is going, you name it. It’s a nice way to slow down and connect instead of the more casual “hey, what’s up” every morning over chat.
Or try snail mail
If you live in the same country, you can also try sending snail mail — either letters or care packages to your friends. This year, I mailed all my closest friends Christmas presents while I was in America. I put a little extra care into the wrapping and packaging, and it helped bring a small piece of me to my friends for the holidays. Try something similar with your friends and see how it goes!
Try a Skillshare class together
This is a new one that I recently tried with my friend Taylor. We both signed up for Skillshare and then chose a class to do together. Last weekend, we tried a watercolor painting class where we both painted succulents. It was a really fun way to feel like we were sharing something, even a continent apart.
Visit each other when you can
Alright, maybe this is cheating, but I’ll share it anyway. Visit each other as often as is realistic for you both. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of my friends come to visit since I moved, and it’s been one of the things that’s kept us closest even now that I live far away. You can always decide to meet somewhere in the middle if one person’s hometown gets a little dry.
Are you in a long-distance friendship right now? How are you staying close?