friendship

How to make your long distance friendships last.

I blame Tinder. One minute we were both happily single, ordering pizzas by the bucket load and watching hours of crappy reality TV, and the next minute, my mate Kate was living interstate with the love of her life.

Bloody Tinder.

Kate was my ‘person’. We had dinner together several times a week. We knew about the nitty gritty of each other’s lives. We were each other’s biggest champions.

But like with most friendships, life circumstances changed and so did the intensity of our friendship.

The thing is, as you get older, it gets harder and harder to make new mates and maintaining your old friendships can be tricky too.

"But like with most friendships, life circumstances changed and so did the intensity of our friendship." Image via Comedy Central.

I’ve moved cities several times as an adult, and I know it’s very easy to let friendships slip away. One minute this person is one of the most important people in your life, and the next they’re just somebody that you used to know.

You get busy in your new life, you’re not talking to each other as often, and slowly bit by bit, you start to lose touch. Your friendship becomes a victim of circumstance.

Knowing this, I was determined to put more effort in this time. I didn’t want another friendship to be a casualty of my laziness. Luckily, we now have social media, which means we have easy access to each other’s lives and cheap means of communication.

Although there have been ups and downs, this is how we’ve learnt to keep our friendship alive:

Those friends who constantly forget their purses and wallets. Image: Girls, HBO
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We accepted that things were going to change.

When someone is no longer physically present in your daily life, things are going to be different.

When you live in the same city, it’s easy to plan regular catch ups, and to fit into each other’s lives. You know a lot of the same people and your lives are intertwined.

We accepted that things were going to change straight up. Maintaining this friendship was going to take a bit more time and effort, and there was going to be an adjustment period. This helped us navigate the first few months of this new friendship.

We’ve kept communication open and ongoing.

Facebook Messenger is an amazing tool for long distance friendships. Let’s face it, we already check Facebook constantly throughout the day. Having an open Facebook Messenger window with your mate means you can quickly tap out funny little titbits about your day, and keep them up to date with the big moments in your life. Kate and I will often just send each other a bunch of funny GIFs or links to articles that we think the other person will like.

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We check in often.

Remember that friend you’ve been meaning to call for the past six months? Yeah her, well she’s still waiting. It’s easy to put things off for tomorrow. Tomorrow turns into next week, which turns into next month and before you know it, it’s been three years since you’ve touched base.

Kate and I check in with each other regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to have long phone conversations (really, who wants that anyway?). We send each other photos of our dogs, and tell each other about the books we’re reading and the shows we’re binge-watching.

Checking in often also means you can avoid that big catch up that you’ve been putting off for months.

We keep each other up to date on the big moments in our lives.

We let each other know ASAP when something big happens – like if one of us is going to a job interview or moving house. This helps us feel like we’re still a part of each other’s daily lives.

We celebrate each other’s successes.

We make sure we’re still giving each other the support and encouragement that was the backbone of our friendship. Celebratory dinners and catch ups have just been replaced with messages, GIFs, Kanye West quotes, and braggy Facebook status updates on the other person’s behalf.

We’ve visited each other and planned future visits.

The first time we caught up in person it was like nothing had changed. We were already pretty much up to date on each other’s lives so it felt like no time had passed between visits.

When we’re not visiting each other we talk about the restaurants, shops and markets that we want to share with each other during the next visit.

It’s been 18 months so far, and we’re still sending each other GIFs on the reg. Take that, Tinder.

You can follow Keryn on Facebook.

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