9 tips to maintaining a healthy (& long distance) friendship
We've all had that friend who leaves. The one who decides on a college out of state, or moves to where her fiancé lives. The one whose job calls her away or who is just looking for a new adventure. The friend who moves away, swearing to stay in touch, and then slowly fades out. I've been that friend and I've also had that happen to me. It stings to know that some friendships only last for a season. But I would argue that not all friendships have to. I won’t sugar coat it though-
type of long distance relationship requires more intentionality and therefore, more work .
I'm the friend who recently moved away, and I have to admit that it’s tough to start a new life, job, and home across the country, while still maintaining relationship with loved ones back at home. I also know that it's super difficult to have a friend leave and still maintain the same level of intimacy that you had when you lived within a few mile radius of each other.
It’s hard, yes, but it’s also DO-ABLE. Don’t discount friendships just because you no longer live in the same zip code. Fight for the ones you hold dear, and don’t make excuses for letting go just because it’s inconvenient. Good things usually come with a price, and no matter what that cost is, it's so worth it.
When we left our community in Indiana to move to Colorado, I swore I wouldn’t be the friend who just disappeared. It’s a sacrifice, for all parties involved to stay connected, but we’ve tried so hard to be intentional about making space for those we love. And because I am 100% for community, no matter how tough it can get to maintain, I’ve compiled my best tips below to share ways to be a good friend, no matter the distance.
Don't be afraid to reach back out.
It’s easy to assume that, if enough time passes, we’ve ruined all chances for reconciliation. Most of the time, this is just simply not the case. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if someone is being pressed on your heart- reach out. Make amends if needed. But putting yourself out there can make way for a really beautiful redemption story. Don’t miss out because you were too afraid what the other person might say or think.
Use apps like voxer.
, introduced me to voxer months before we moved, and I admit I laughed about it at first. Voxer is an app that allows you to leave voice messages to friends. You can leave up to 15 minutes of updates! As strange as it may sound, it’s the perfect way for two busy people to keep in touch. Just leave a message with updates, questions, thoughts, or anything on your mind, and the receiving person can respond whenever they have the chance. I usually vox in the car while I’m driving, and almost always surprise myself with how long I can talk. It’s an amazing way to process and update with one another if you can’t fit a phone call in.
Schedule a standing FaceTime call.
I would recommend treating facetime calls as plans. Try to find a day of the week that works and schedule plans around it. It’s inconvenient, yes, but it also truly shows people how much you value them. And it doesn’t have to be a standing call every week- you could do every other week, once a month, every ten days, etc, as long as you prioritize and make it a habit.
Be intentional with prayer.
One of the best ways to truly invest in someone’s life is through prayer. Try scheduling “prayer” days, where you pray for certain people on certain days. I would recommend following up regularly to ask about the request you are praying for. People feel SO seen when this becomes a regular occurrence. Side bar: this is something I'm not great at, and am continuously working on. All in this together!
Don't expect an update if you aren't being intentional on your end.
It’s easy to forget to update friends back home, particularly on small day to day activities. But if you aren’t being intentional with opening up, you can’t expect to know everything else about the other person’s life. It feels awkward, but sometimes I send friends pictures and videos recapping our week or night without a prompt. Just remember that when you aren’t living close by, the little things often go unsaid, which makes it easy to start drifting apart when every time you chat, you are simply just giving “the update”.
Invest in a visit.
Moving to Colorado means driving to Indiana just for a weekend visit is not feasible. Since we are in a season of living on a super tight budget (
), it’s hard to be okay with spending $200 on a plane ticket. But I told Cal as soon as we moved that I wanted this to be a top priority over most else. We decided to put aside any extra money in order to make visits happen. I’m not pretending that this isn’t inconvenient in terms of time and money, but having that sweet reunion face to face is SO WORTH the extra work and money spent to get there.
Don't underestimate the power of a handwritten card.
This is a super thoughtful way of telling someone you are thinking of them. I love sending friends cards out of the blue, and I especially love receiving them. You don’t need a reason to send something- just do it periodically to remind them you love em!
Be okay with the friendship feeling one sided every once and awhile.
I really struggle with this sometimes, and therefore, am not good at it. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes there are seasons when certain relationships feel one sided. Maybe your friend just got a new job and you are the one reaching out consistently, or maybe you are going through a busy time of transitioning into marriage and she’s the one being more intentional. Don’t keep tabs, just keep pursuing. Keeping a checklist in your mind of who texted who last will ONLY cause bitterness and resentment. Love well right where you are at, and stop worrying about making the playing field equal. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, and I can say that when I don’t have the capacity to fully pursue, it has always meant so much to me when close friends take the lead. Grace upon grace upon grace.
FOMO will ruin your friendship.
FOMO = fear of missing out. I would like to meet someone who doesn’t have this (besides my husband, but he doesn’t count because he’s essentially perfect 😉) .But seriously, I have a terrible case of FOMO. There is little I love more than experiencing new things with my people. However, in my experience, the number one relationship killer is the fear of missing out. Whether it’s because you physically can’t be there (i.e. you live across the country), or two of your friends are catching up without you, reacting with bitterness or sadness won’t help anyone or anything. We have to let the notion go that we can be everything to everyone. I hate admitting this, but moving may mean certain friends will grow close without you. Hopefully it doesn’t, but if it does, refer back to number 8. You aren’t replaceable in a friendship, so celebrate your unique relationship, and be happy that your friends can connect and continue to grow even if you aren’t physically there to be with them.
I have had to go through A LOT of growing pains to learn how to be a good friend: most of these tips were taught to me by friends who loved me WELL despite my baggage. I would encourage you to reach out to a loved one today to let them know you’re thinking of them, no matter how long it’s been since the last time you’ve spoken.
Have a tip that I missed on how to be a good friend? Drop a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts 😊