You always hear about “long distance relationships” and how hard it can be to make them work. Relationships end all the time because they just couldn’t do the long distance thing. Advice on your romantic relationships is great but what do you do when you move across the country from your 4-year strong college roommate and best friend? That’s a friendship you just spent a lot of time working on and a person that has had a big part in your life.
The thought of, ”Hey! I just spent a critical part of my life with you but…nice knowin’ ya? Good luck? Maybe we’ll stay in touch?” is heartbreaking.
I am no expert but one of my best friends and I live a plane ride away yet I still feel like our friendship is growing. Here are the 5 biggest things I have learned about my long-distance friendship —
1. Low expectations. In a good way.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll probably have a lot of friends in your life. You can’t expect to be best friends with all of them forever. People come and go into each other’s lives for reasons and that’s stuff we can’t pre-plan for. You have to make the decision on whether or not a friendship is worth putting your precious time in to. Sadly, old friends will get lost in the shuffle of life but meanwhile you’ll figure out the ones who were meant to stay close.
2. Learn your own virtual love language.
The reality is that most of your communication will be done through typed words on a screen. Learn what your BFF actually means when she says, “You’re so annoying.” Is she really annoyed with you or just wants you to stop sending her cute puppy pics at 9am Monday morning? Honesty, sarcasm, and humor are three crucial things in communicating with each other. At first, translating might be hard but after time and maybe even a few “Wait are you actually mad?” kind of questions, things will get much smoother.
3. Prioritize. Prioritize.
Chances are that you know this friend as good as almost anyone else. You sadly don’t get a lot of time to talk to them, and it’s important to make the most of the time you do get. Ask about what you know is close to their hearts. Is she really close to her parents? Ask how they are doing. Do you know that she has been struggling to the max about what color cabinets she wants in her new kitchen? Ask to see the options! You have to leave out the questions about what restaurant she went to this week or what new pants she just bought so that you can get to the good, meaningful, meaty stuff that pulls at both of your heart strings.
4. Jealousy. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Having limited, sometimes-scheduled time to talk is HARD. Because of this you can’t get mad when you’re late to the game and find out about something later than some of her other friends did. That real, tangible feeling of sad floats on up when you realize you missed out. You’re not there, and she’s not here and because of that, things happen and your first thought isn’t always to tell them the details. Then life gets in the way and you never got around to telling them. Those feelings are real and they suck but getting over them quickly is your best bet in the long run. Easier said than done, I know.
5. Realistic #relationshipgoals
There is no getting around that whole “life getting in the way” thing. Depending on what your situation is, planning to see each other in a non-virtual way can vary. Maybe you can plan to go see her 1 time a year and she comes to you once too! Or maybe once a year in total, alternating between each other! It might be planning your family’s vacations together. Whatever your goals are, having them will give you a point to be SO excited for and leave room for the unexpected, surprise, and spontaneous visits that might pop up.
All in all, you gotta do you. Expect a week where you don’t talk at all followed by one where you get to FaceTime twice! Encourage, be their cheerleader from far away, and try your best to let go of the small stuff. Remember that your seasons of life change just as much as hers do. Enjoy (like really, really enjoy) the precious time you get to spend with them. Be grateful for this crazy technology we are lucky to have to make these long distance relationship possible.