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How To Keep A Long-Distance Friendship, Even When You’re An Ocean Apart

I remember it was the end of the second semester of my freshman year of college when my best friend from home texted me that she was applying to an art school in Scotland to be closer to her boyfriend. For reference, I went to school in New York and we both lived permanently in Massachusetts.

I was surprised that she wanted to take that step, since she had always been on the more introverted side in school, plus the idea of up and leaving to study in a foreign country for a boy seemed so outlandish to me. What if they broke up? I was also upset because I had just gotten into a huge falling out with other girls I thought were my friends in school.

The news made me feel like I had no one left in my corner. No friends at school, and now no best friend at home. I gave myself more than one pity-party, but at the end of the day I loved my best friend and wanted to support her dreams as much as I could.

It’s now been three years of us being an ocean apart, and our friendship has strengthened and matured way beyond what I thought it was ever capable of. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you and your best friend are forced to be miles apart, don’t hit the panic button! I’ve compiled a list of the top tips I’ve learned for making long-distance friendships thrive.

Allow Room For Growth And New Experiences

It wasn’t until my first year of college when I discovered a slightly possessive quality about myself. When I felt like I didn’t have control over my environment or friendships at school, I would lean on my boyfriend at the time and my best friend from home to give me comfort if I was feeling lonely. I somehow felt that if I was the most important thing in their lives, then somehow that would make me more important as a person.

It wasn’t until I broke up with my boyfriend and my college friends that I was forced to look inward at my relationship with myself and others that I truly allowed room for growth and new experiences.

I would message my friend asking about anything and everything that was going on in her life. I wanted to know how her classes were, how people were treating her, how the food was, and how cute the boys were (of course). The more time that passed, I noticed my best friend becoming more confident and secure in who she was, something I admire about her to this day. She took the difficult road of following her passion against societal expectations and was finally able to find her groove and happiness. Since we’re thousands of miles apart, I’ve gotten to see this growth take place from afar, and I honestly don’t know if this growth would’ve happened if we were still living near each other.

I remember in one of our video calls we had a lull in conversation and I told her how proud I was of her chasing her dreams and being brave and how much I’ve seen her change into a confident badass. It led to a teary moment, but I knew she was happy to hear those words. I then realized that seeing her growth was also a pivotal moment for me to recognize that I cannot control how other people live their lives or how their decisions mold the person they will become. Sure, I can want life to go one way, but learning to let go and let others experience life in their own hands is a beauty very much overlooked.

Make Time To Video Chat Regularly

This may be the most obvious tip, but it really does matter. Once you and your bestie have gotten into the routines of your schedules (I know this was always super hard at the beginning and end of the semesters), try to plan a weekly or bi-weekly video call. Having a BFF abroad makes this a little bit harder with the different time zones, but hopefully it is still manageable. In my case, the time difference plays in our advantage because I’m typically more of an early bird and my friend, who is five hours ahead of me, is more of an evening person.

We typically video call on Facebook Messenger, which doesn’t give us the best quality call, but the connection is at least usually stable. Remember to leave room for life to happen—don’t get mad at your friend if they miss a call or if you find that you need to raincheck.

Enjoy Each Other’s Time

If you’re fostering any resentment towards your friend, they likely will feel it when you communicate. If you snub them or don’t make time for them while they are going through this new chapter of their life, they will likely take note of this attitude and give you less and less of their time.

Try to find happiness for them and be grateful for every moment that you do get to hang out or talk with each other. It wasn’t until my best friend moved to another country that I realized how much we make each other laugh. Not your standard “haha” laugh, I mean a silent, contagious, chest-heaving, wheezy laugh that only a best friend can make you feel.

Those are the moments when you know you’re with your best friend. I look forward to being able to hear my best friend’s laugh, and it gives me joy knowing that her spirit is in my life because we both want to be in each other’s lives.

Plan A Trip

Planning a trip to see your best friend may or may not be accessible to you for various reasons, but if it is even in the realm of possibility, I highly encourage you to do so! Public transportation is usually easy to figure out in large metropolitan cities, and there are plenty of Amtrak trains/Greyhound buses here in the U.S. if driving isn’t an option.

I had the chance to visit my friend in Edinburgh, Scotland because I was studying abroad in London at the time, which ironically made us the closest to each other that we’ve ever been. I was chosen to go to Edinburgh from my program’s lottery for a few empty spaces on a school trip, so I sneakily had her stay in my hotel room with me to save her money on a hostel. That trip ended up being the best trip of my entire life abroad because we got to experience new things together. She showed me her favorite pieces at an art gallery in the city that she always wanted to visit and I got us tickets to an AMAZING comedy show to end the night. We clubbed the hardest we’ve ever clubbed, and it was such a fun weekend.

Bottom line, living away from your best friend is totally doable and is only as scary as you allow it to be. We are connected more than we realize, and with technology glued to our fingertips, communication is as easy as texting someone “hey” if you want to know how they’re doing. Above all, remember that if you put in consistent effort, your friendship will not only stay intact, but it has the potential to grow stronger than ever before.

About the author
I have short thumbs and a talent for reading people. Follow Becca on Instagram or read more articles from Becca on Thought Catalog.

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