Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but it’s not easy to keep a relationship going when there are miles between the two of you. You grow apart, and most long-distance relationships don’t make it.
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Long-distance friendships, on the other hand, can be some of the best you’ll ever have. These friendships come with some of the same challenges as romantic relationships, like limited time spent together in person, but the extra effort you put in to stay in touch only ends up strengthening your bond.
As long as you’re willing to put in the work!
I have some experience: When my best friend since 7th grade moved across the country (literally from the east coast to the west coast) after college to pursue her career, I was nothing short of devastated.
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We’d grown up spending every day together after school, having sleepovers on the weekends, taking trips to the beach during summer vacation, and bunking in each other’s dorm rooms throughout four years of college.
I had a very small extended family that lived far away, and it had always felt like her large, local one “adopted” me. I worried when she moved away that I would lose touch with not only her but them, too.
Thanks to social media and modern technology, at first it didn’t feel so hard to keep up with each other and stay in each other’s lives. With Facebook and Instagram posts, I could easily get a sense of what her new west coast lifestyle was like — where she was going, who she was meeting, et cetera. I toured her new apartment via FaceTime. We texted each other every day without fail.
As time went on, though, these daily updates became less frequent. We both got comfortable in new jobs, made new friends, and essentially started living new lives on opposite sides of the country.
Unlike a relationship, though, a friendship since 7th grade doesn’t just disappear. There aren’t a lot of people who knew you through puberty, helped pick out your prom dress, and went on college tours with you. Having 3,000 miles between you doesn’t change that.
So over the years, we’ve begun putting in effort in different ways. Texting every single day is too much, but we send each other cards for every holiday and birthday. Yes, real greeting cards that go in envelopes that you stick a stamp on and bring to the post office. Sometimes we even send college-style care packages.
We tag each other in memes on Facebook (is there any better way to show someone you’re thinking of them?). And best of all, we see each other two or three times a year when she comes home to visit her family. I clear my calendar months in advance for those times and make spending time with her (and my “adoptive” family) my top priority.
I still consider her my best friend, even if we’re only lucky enough to see each once in July and once in December. But the great thing about friendships versus relationships is that even if you don’t speak to or see each other for big chunks of time, when you finally do, it’s like you pick up right where you left off. Every time.