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5 ways to keep a long-distance friendship alive

IMAGE VIA WILDFLOWER CASES

WORDS BY MAGENTA PORTER

Calling all long distance besties.

Pop culture loves long-distance relationships. The number of American romcoms about couples giving long-distance love a shot after they move to college must keep half of Hollywood in business, at least. 

Yes, a long-distance romantic relationship (LDR) is hard, but I believe that long-distance friendship (LDF) is harder. Before you roll your eyes at this (clearly) single girl comparing friendships to relationships, hear me out.


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I am not denying the difficulty and heartache that an LDR must involve. However, I’m sure a lot more people have an LDF (yes, watch that catch on) in their life, that they simply couldn’t live without. After moving across the country from Perth to Sydney over a year ago in the middle of the pandemic, I would like to think that I have become a bit of an expert in LDF management. 

Friendships like these are not easy, they require hard work. Navigating FaceTimes, dealing with awkward time differences and of course, the gamble of express postage can sometimes make it seem like it’s all too much. Not to mention the many missed birthdays, breakups, graduations and promotions. These life moments just don’t feel the same when shared via a dodgy internet connection, where at least one of you has to disconnect from WiFi and hop on 4G. 

They might involve a little more effort and they require better communication skills than IRL connections, but for me (and I’m assuming you) these friendships are worth it. After all, if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this article for tips on how to keep them going. 

As a well-versed LDF professional, I am jumping straight to the good stuff – none of that friendship lamp business here. Naturally, the only person to consult for this article was my best friend. 

I gave her a FaceTime so she could give me her no-BS opinion on how the heck we’ve managed to make friendship work from two time zones away and how you can too. We narrowed it down to five easy to follow tips (or in her opinion, rules) to live by:

Figure out a time that both of you are (generally) free for a regular FaceTime call

We don’t have a scheduled weekly catch-up, our lives are too hectic to have a set day and time to talk each week. Instead, we treat the friendship exactly as we did for the 11 years we spent living in the same state. Call when you know the other isn’t at work, any day of the week.

If they answer, amazing. If they don’t, there are no hard feelings, we both know that the other will call back when they can. Our designated time is normally 6am/pm her time, 8am/pm my time. This does make for a few early wake-up calls on her end from me, but she doesn’t complain (too much). 

Do mundane activities together 

To keep things real, we don’t sit down with a glass of wine for two hours and discuss the weather. I call her as I cook dinner or fold my washing and I’ve been known to have her on loudspeaker in the shower from time to time.

If this friendship is going to work, you’ve got to make the most of the time you have to chat. This also keeps things light and casual. There’s nothing worse than your friendship going from sharing everything (sometimes even socks) to being awkwardly formal and weird. No thanks. 

Two words: Voice. Messages.

If they are good enough for Flex Mami, they are good enough for me. I am an absolute sucker for a voice message, despite the bad press they sometimes gain from my more text-heavy friends. This one might be more suited to the extroverted LDFs out there, but in my opinion, voice messages reign supreme over texts any day.

Got a funny thought you just need to get out? Voice message. Hot piece of goss or wild story from the weekend? Multiple voice messages. They allow you to get across the needed levels of emotion and drama that sometimes, a text simply cannot. They also provide the perfect piece of entertainment for your bestie when they finally have a free moment to listen. Sometimes, it’s just nice to hear their voice. 

Presents (because, obviously)

In this day and age, we are all well versed in the excitement of receiving online orders to our doorstep. But let me tell you, there is no better feeling than coming home to a surprise gift or actual letter from a friend.

The time and dedication spent wrapping or writing and then sending something via snail mail beats any digital form of love, every time. Even better, you can order a meal on a food delivery service from across the country to be delivered to your LDF, so give the gift of something yummy, order yourself the same, and enjoy a weirdly timed 4pm dinner together. 

Find My Friends

This is not as stalkerish as it sounds. Well almost. Half the battle with LDF’s is finding the right time to chat for both of you. Texting ‘you free?’ back and forth constantly until you both die gets everyone absolutely nowhere. I have found the Find My Friends locator app to be a major helping hand in handling my LDF’s.

If I am about to give someone a buzz, I simply hop on to check if they are at home before doing so, instead of rudely interrupting whatever work meeting/date/outing/toilet break they are on with a phone call. This might be a step too far for some of you more private people, but it truly has saved me, many times. 

Finally, if there is one piece of parting advice to take away from this article, it is this: do not forget the time difference. The time difference can make the distance feel far wider than it is, especially when one friend is calling from the club dancefloor and the other is trying to catch the last few minutes of sleep before work. Honour the time difference. Respect the time difference. Burn it into your brain. Trust me, it’ll save you a few tension headaches. 

To find out more about the importance of staying connected, head to Beyond Blue.

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