These Are The 10 Rules For Long-Distance Friendships

Two women in dresses arching back while holding each other hands in a green meadow
Julia Caesar / Unsplash

Gone are the days of everyone you know settling in the town they grew up in. Generations before us would grow up in a town, go off to college, and return to the familiar to plant their roots. While this still happens today, and there is nothing wrong with it, it is far less common. People today are much more likely to move to a major city to spend the bulk of their youth. And this is great. It gives people a much broader experience of the world, an opportunity to meet new people. The contrast being, the once day-to-day faces unknowingly fade from your life, and the friends you’d like to keep are spread across the globe.

I live in Boston and have friends in New York, L.A., Chicago, and London, to name the big cities. With social media today, it’s great that I can see what their up to, but with social media, I can see what celebrities I don’t know are up to. These friends are people I have strong relationships with. I’d like to keep in touch with them on a personal level, but also let them live their lives. I have devised a few guidelines on how to navigate this relationship and keep your friends close.

1. If your friend is in your city, you make time to see them.

These aren’t acquaintances you barely know; these are your close friends. You are by no means supposed to be your city’s official tour guide anytime someone you went to high school with is in town. But, for your close friends, you need to see them. If they mention they’ll be in town they want to see you. It doesn’t matter if they are there for work, grab a quick coffee with them. Nothing is better than seeing a friend face to face. You at least have to make an attempt. If you both get drunk and your phones die, no one is at fault.

2.  Call them. Don’t always make them call you.

I understand that talking on the phone is rare these days, but every few months talk to them on the phone for an hour and get all the catching up and goodwill built up in a relationship. This is much easier than keeping up with several different text conversations. You can even schedule the call via text. If you begin to notice that you only talk when they call you, pick up the phone.

3. When texting, the larger the time difference the more time they have to reply.

This particularly goes with an initial conversation starter, but it’s true for every text. I live in Boston, if I text my friend in L.A. on my commute to work, it’s only 5 a.m. there, they have lots of time to respond. If I text my NY friend during the same time, we are in the same time zone, and they are on the subway and have time for my text. Act accordingly.

4.  Speaking of time difference, no such thing as a drunk dial, you didn’t know what time it was there, remember?

If you are out drinking and you decide to call one of your friends, they will appreciate the sentiment. They live hundreds of miles away and you still thought of them in your inebriated state. Go ahead and leave them a three and a half minute voicemail about how pretty they are and how good the dumplings you just got are. If they get upset, blame it on the time thing! That’s your cop out! Do not make a habit of this kind of behavior.

5. Once they visit you, it’s your turn to go to them before you invite them back for a second visit.

Visits are to be on a one for one basis. Think of it as a sports team doing a home-and-home. Your friend can come to you twice in a row, but that is only if the second visit is their idea. Neutral sites do not count toward either party, unless one of you had to move continents. That goes towards for the host continents count Don’t make them come three times before you return the favor. Take time off, go see them.

6. Don’t spend the entire time talking with old friends about new friends.

If your friend has met the new friend, this is totally fine. It’s hard to put names to faces when you have never seen faces. Also, it’s not a great feeling to hear about all the times your friend is having with people that aren’t you. You definitely aren’t getting replaced, but you will have that thought. So just, avoid this.

7. Don’t spend the entire time talking with old friends about old stories.

You aren’t friends because you have some old shared experiences, you are friends because you grow together. Of course, tell funny stories about old times, but also keep them up to date on what’s going on in your life. Career, love life, roommates, hobbies, you name it, talk about it. They are still a part of the current life you live. Keep them updated.

8.  Birthdays get texts, not Facebook wall posts.

I mean…come on.

9.  Random “this made me think of you” texts are allowed. In fact, appreciated.

I wrote this one for two reasons. First, if you see something that reminds you of a friend you should tell them. That is nice. People like to be thought of and friends like hearing what about them make them close to you. If a song comes on, or you order a certain type of food, anything. It’s a sweet gesture. Tell them you miss them if you do. Secondly, I say this to say, just because you don’t have a running text going with a friend doesn’t mean you should hesitate to start one. Conversation is open at all times via text; just abide by rule three when doing so.

10. You can’t get mad at the distance. You are happy for your friends.

Your friends are far away and it sucks. It really sucks. You miss them all the time. Be okay with telling them that. I know you want to see them more; they’d like to see you too. But it isn’t fair to them to be mad that you live far apart. Sometimes, it’s for a career and sometimes it’s for love. Sometimes they just pick up their things and say they have to live somewhere else for a while. If you are a friend, you will support them in their decision and help where you can along the way. Because I will tell you one thing, part of the reason why they think they can do it is because they have people like you as a friend. TC mark

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