As far back as I can remember, my life has been a melting pot of colorful people and places that scatter the globe. I moved around a lot as a kid and a penchant for travel has followed me into my adult life. It’s up there with food, water, and clean air, to be honest.
While it all sounds very nice, the difficulty in walking such a path has been the distance that I’ve put between myself and those that I adore. Time and time again over the years I’ve found myself missing milestone birthdays, pining for a specific shoulder to cry on and desperately wishing I could hop time zones for a chat at a civilized hour. It can be tough not having your tribe right there when it matters most.
All things considered though, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. My friends have taught me so much about myself by offering fresh perspectives that can be hard to come by from those immersed too heavily in the immediate chaos of everyday life. They’ve also opened my eyes up to different cultures and communities and for want of a better phrase, broadened my horizons. Plus, every time we do manage to get together in person, it is magical.
They take work, but long distance friendships can offer so much value in our lives. Plus, in the growing age of globalization, most of us have at least one special human living or traveling many miles away from us right now whether we like it or not. It’s a sign of the times and so it’s probably best that we start cultivating better habits to nurture them.
I’m no expert, but I do consider myself pretty damn good at this whole oceans-between-us thing by now. I’d like to share my tips with you in case you’re struggling to stay involved, or have an imminent departure on the horizon in the hope that it will keep you close so those connections (that can last a lifetime if you let them!) can flourish.
Put the time in. It sounds so obvious, but it’s the most vital one to nail. You don’t have the luxury of being able to meet up for dinner or drinks IRL, so instead you have to put the time in via whatever medium you use to communicate in order to keep each other involved in your lives. Yes, that might mean spending a Saturday night-in on Skype, but you have to ask yourself what’s important. If you find value and meaning in that friendship, then regular communication is non-negotiable. Don’t get lazy now!
Use WhatsApp voicenotes. This one is a total game-changer if you’ve not tried it. I basically spend my life leaving voicenotes for my friends while I’m walking to work and then my train and bus journeys listening to their responses. There’s something so comforting about hearing his or her voice that can’t be replaced by written words alone. If you’ve got any kind of commute that gives you time in private, or want another motivating reason to take a walk during your lunch break, this is it.
Send care packages. I can’t even tell you how excited I get when I receive a package from one of my besties. I’ve been sending the same battered box back and forth to one particular amiga for over 6 months now and it has love woven deep within its tatty layers. Whether it’s cute local snacks, handmade goodies or something special that you know they’ve had their eye on, packages are tangible and the next best thing to being squeezed in person.
Remember important dates. More than birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, if you know that a big day is coming up such as an interview, graduation or first date since the breakup, take a moment to send well wishes. It’s frighteningly easy to slip from being involved in the little daily details to only having a rough idea, so remember those dates and express your support. It goes a long way in showing the other that you care.
Share podcasts, books or films. If a friend mentions how a recent read or revolutionary podcast has changed her life, do her the solid of reading, listening or watching too. It’ll bring you closer, offer plenty of conversation points when you next chat and you might even learn something too.
Take note of names. Unless you visit each other often, more likely than not people will come and go from his or her life before you even get a chance to introduce yourself. Remember the name of that neighbor he has been having problems with, or that coworker she’s had an eye on and then ask about how things are going with [insert name here]. It shows you’re paying attention which goes such a long way in helping you feel connected.
As we cruise on through adult life past the warm confines of our hometown, opportunities arise that allow us to venture far and wide. The beauty of pursuing these is being able to learn and grow and meet new people from all walks of life. But when the time comes to say goodbye, if only for a while, use these tips to stay involved and keep that door open until you meet again.
How do you manage your long distance relationships?
Also by Kat: Chai Spiced Vegan Bread Pudding
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