Your best friend is leaving town: Adopting to long-distance friendships

With the turning tides of time, distance, and other life changes, friendships can be thrust into a hiatus.

With the turning tides of time, distance, and other life changes, friendships can be thrust into a hiatus.

What you need to know:

  • One of the main things that make a long-distance friendship work is communication.
  • Remember, you also have a life to live, and like them, you need your space to grow.

Friendships are a big part of many people's lives. With the turning tides of time, distance, and other life changes, friendships can be thrust into a hiatus.  How do you rekindle important friendships, or ensure the spark stays despite distance and evolving phases of life?

Factors that contribute to the long-distance

  • A friend leaving for studies in another country
  • A loved one being redeployed elsewhere
  • Losing touch with a friend who moves away from your hometown.
  • An ongoing argument that eventually causes friends to go their separate ways.
  • Other factors like changing jobs, family emergencies, and having children can affect contact with old friends.

Stages of a long-distance friendship: A scenario

Your friend gets an admission letter to the school of their dreams. It is all fun and games until they announce that this school is located in another country.

Then comes the parting stage. Your best friend is ready to leave. The day you escort them to the airport you realise you will not see them for some time. The goodbye is tough, but you know it's the best thing to do.

The transition stage is when you both enter a new chapter in your lives. Your friend has gone off to school, and you are left behind. The first few phone calls sound something like, "Hey! How's it going? What have you been up to?" Unfortunately, these conversations don't last long as everyone is busy. Then, you have to decide whether to do the activities you did together alone or replace the friend. Tough spot!

The transition stage can be filled with jealousy and doubts about the friendship.

The rekindling stage comes when you find out your friend is finally coming home for a visit. You go to the airport and pick them up. It feels great! The two days they are in town go by so fast and before you know it, it's time for them to head back.

Tips for long-distance friendship

It's not easy to stay in touch with your best friend when you live far apart. The key is to understand how much the friendship means to both of you.

  1. Call often. Make time between work or school schedules to chat on phone and do video calls if possible. Send each other pictures and updates about your lives. Remember that while lives may be different now, your paths still lead towards each other.
  2. Gifting is a great way to show that you care. If you're sending a gift to someone far away, make sure it has some personal meaning behind it. When you care about the person, there is always something special that they enjoy doing or an item/hobby which reminds them of their past and who they are now. It can be something as simple as sending a card with a special message.
  3. Maintain a good relationship with your friend's family. This is important because it shows that even though they are far away, you still care about them and their well-being. Also, keep in touch with other mutual friends who have stayed behind. This way, the two of you can maintain the friendship throughout the time apart.
  4. Make a schedule that works best for both of you. Plan dates so your friend knows what's happening on the day they come home. Make effort to visit each other. It will make the time apart easier if you have a date in mind to look forward to. You can decide to visit in turns so that both are actively involved in planning. That way, you are never separated for long periods, and neither party feels like they have to go on without their friend.
  5. Take advantage of technology. Skype, video calls, and social media will help you stay connected. Include your friend on social media. If you post pictures, tag them so they know what's going on without having to ask for updates all the time.
  6. Consider activities you can do together while apart. This could be video games, following a series, or even reading a book. However, it is wise to give each other a break. Do not be too clingy with the other person.