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How to Maintain a Long Distance Friendship

I first met Talia when I was 11 years old. I was reading a book about a cat who saved the world, and she felt compelled to ask me if I had read this other series about cats who took it over. She brought me the first book in that series the next day, and we became instant friends, bonding over a love of reading and coconuts (and apparently cats).

We recently celebrated our 10 years of friendship, but seven of those years have been apart. Long distance friendships aren’t easy, but you should never let a strong bond burn out because of a little distance. While it can be hard to make memories together when you are 2,500 miles apart, I’ve got some tips and tricks to making it work.

Photo via @shannamerceron (with Talia!)

Plan a Vacation: I first found out that Talia was leaving my small town in Florida to move back to Los Angeles at my freshman orientation for high school. Everyone picked up their class schedules, but she didn’t have one. She broke the news to me that night: she was moving before school started. I probably cried enough tears to fill a bathtub, wondering what I would do without one of my best friends by my side in the carnival of high school. We promised we would visit each other soon, and we did. I saved up all of my babysitting money and begged my parents to let their 14-year-old spend her winter break in the city of angels. Since then we’ve taken turns visiting each other when we can, and while it will never compare to seeing each other every day like we used to, the time that we do spend together has become extra special and has only made our love for each other stronger.

Photo via @lovelyykelly

Talk Whenever You Can: I quickly realized that while a three hour time difference might not seem like much, it can make all the difference between being awake or asleep, or in and out of class. Talia and I never created a strict schedule about trying to force x amount of calls with each other into our weeks. If I had a moment, I would call. If she answered, great, if not, I would sing a song into her voicemail. Sometimes our phone tag lasts days, but eventually we get a hold of each other and there is always so much to talk about. We still text each other memes and complain about our siblings as if she was still just a 10 minute drive away. Every call is ended with “I miss you,” but just hearing her voice makes her feel not so far away.

Photo via @livgraul

Keep Each Other Updated: An important part about maintaining a long distance friendship is to stay updated with each others lives. Who are her other friends? Know their names and their ticks. Where does she work? Where does she like to study? What guy does she have her eye on? I sometimes feel compelled to take notes, so I don’t miss a detail, as I am able to build up her new life and what it looks like in my mind. You want to be able to talk to each other without feeling like you’re always explaining who is who. Talk about your tests coming up so you know when not to call, or to send a gif of a cat dancing for support. Stay on top of the little events that create the facets of your friend’s life. You can’t be there, but at least you can make it feel like you have a clue.

Photo via @emilyypaulino

Meet Each Other’s Friends: If you’re lucky enough to visit often, make an effort to meet their friends while you’re in their new digs. It can be tempting to want them all to yourself, but hanging out with their friends and family further cements you in their lives and helps put faces and personalities to names. I still keep in contact with some of Talia’s friends that I met in California a couple of years ago. Chances are that the friends your friend picks, will be a good match for you too. Getting to know each others friends will help make yourself feel more real in their new life despite the distance.

Photo via @rebeccabnorris

As you get older, life seems to move a little quicker, and with a fast paced lifestyle comes a lot of change. Whether it’s graduating or moving from one college to another, saying goodbye to summertime friends, or relocating for your sweet new job, friends suddenly get spread across the map, and that friendship can fade away. It’s okay, sometimes people are only in our lives only for as long as we need them to be. But if you really love and care about someone, you’ll make the effort to keep contact and maintain the relationships that mean something to you.

How do you make your long distance friendships work? Let us know in the comments below!