It’s felt like centuries since I have embraced my dearest and most adored companions (we went away for college). We have spent the past decade admiring each other’s handwriting in each other’s handwritten letters (we Snapchat each other blurry face pics on the regular). The battle has been won (we’re done with finals) and we can finally embrace each other safely (we’re all home for break). This is not for long, however, as the war is still calling our names (a new semester is beginning). Our meetings that were once a short day trek away (we used to live five minutes apart) now require a few months of a sea journey (our schools are located halfway across the country). Now, we are officially continuing to embark on our journey of being in a long-distance relationship.
My controversial take, however, is that long-distance friendships are sometimes a little more tricky to maintain than long-distance relationships. There’s no formal rulebook for it, while there’s the advice of so many who have been in long-distance relationships outlining the do’s and don’ts and the clichés.
So here I am, creating this formal rulebook of the do’s and don’ts of long-distance friendships.
1. Be there in any way you can
As cliché and occasionally “icky” as it sounds, sending your long-distance friends affirming words of support, asking them how they are feeling, or even sending Venmo cash for them to get a coffee on their way to class is especially meaningful. These little actions are not only a testament to pursuing random acts of kindness but are a testament to how valuable you perceive your friendship to be — no matter the distance.
2. Make plans for the future
Showing initiative to visit one another, spend time together during break or set aside time to call is arguably one of the most crucial ways of maintaining long-distance friendships. While we live in a world where showing initiative seems to be “desperate” or a bruise to one’s ego, setting things to look forward to can help you push through rough times.
3. Understand that it’s natural to drift apart
While it’s heartbreaking to drift apart from our companions that we grew up with and absolutely adore, it’s a natural phenomenon that is inevitable. This doesn’t mean that the friendship was always meaningless, it just means that you’re in different stages of life and that’s okay. Drifting apart doesn’t mean that the door’s closed forever.
1. Ghost them
Steer clear of ghosting, as things may be awkward when you return to your “old” life at home over break. While you’re allowed to set boundaries if necessary, cutting someone out without reason can be exceptionally hurtful. Ask yourself: are you setting boundaries or are you avoiding painful feelings derived from far proximities affecting your friendship?
2. Set unrealistic expectations
While we all make unfulfilled promises to text and call frequently, we have to acknowledge that we all are on different paths and have our own lives. While we live in a society that can easily stay in touch with everyone from all of our life phases, not communicating 24/7 doesn’t correlate to the nonexistence of a particular friendship — people exist outside of their phones.
3. Prioritize maintaining your friendship
Although maintaining good relations is essential to our quality of life, it shouldn’t take a toll on our mental health or interfere with our personal life. You’re at school with a purpose, in pursuit of achieving your own goals. Your friendships are valuable, but they are not the end-all and be-all.
No long-distance friendship is easy, but I hope that each and every one of you has a wonderful companion in your life who is worth the distance — while keeping my rulebook in mind.