6 Relationship Lessons Learned From a 12-Year Long-Distance Friendship

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It was 10:45 in the evening and I was getting ready for bed when a notification popped on my phone’s screen. “Hi! Are you still awake? Not sure if I made it before your quiet time.” It was Maria, whose day was only starting. She lives on the other side of the world. “Hello, I’m awake,” I reply. “What’s up?” 

Maria and I Met 20 Years Ago, and We Were Inseparable 

I was a teenager who had just moved to a different school, which wasn’t easy. Fortunately, I made friends with a few people who grew to become the best in my life. One of them was Maria. We were polar opposites, but like magnets, we were inseparable. We would spend the whole day together at school and then long phone calls at home.

Our Friendship Required More TLC When Maria Moved Away 

After graduating from high school, we both moved cross-country for college — I stayed in the metro close to my campus, and she went to school outside of the big city. While we had formed different friendships in that new chapter, our intentions of keeping our friendship commitment were certain. Maria later relocated to another country, and the time zone differences proved to be challenging, especially in the beginning. We have been stubborn about staying in touch, and fast-forward 20 years — including the past 12 years apartwe are proud of the work we’ve done to stay connected. 

Maintaining Our Long-Distance Friendship Has Been Worth It

They say nothing worth having comes easy. We both work on it because we believe our friendship is worth it, as so many friendships are. Here are the lessons we’ve learned along the way that we believe is true for any tender, true connection to another person. 

1You Learn a Lot About Patience

With all the responsibilities we juggle, it's normal when schedules don’t line up or replies come late. Change comes in all of our lives and as we face different obstacles along the way, it can be tricky to keep up. Through patience and persistence, we've come to acknowledge each other’s struggles and practice compassion more. This helps us to understand each other better. By being present in the best possible way, we've learned how to be better friends

2You Value Time and Effort a Lot More

This means making time to catch up and to reach out as often as possible. We learned the importance of sorting out any disagreement openly because when you are countries, oceans, or even a city apart, there isn’t a conflict that is worth taking time away from the little time you share. From occasional video calls to planning quick weekend vacations together, the little moments and the effort we put into staying connected make our friendship that much more rewarding. We also know that we will simply pick up where we left off. No matter how seldom or short we spend time together, it is always sweeter than the last time. 

3You Share Life in a Way You Don’t With Anyone Else

I may not have been around when Jojo, her baby girl, and my goddaughter, took her first step, and she may not be able to drop by for a movie night, but there is beauty in how we are vulnerable with each other despite the time apart. Whether it’s sharing good news, making life-changing decisions, or needing company when life gets tough, some of our most meaningful conversations have been shared over a call. Different people have different answers to how to keep a friendship alive, but for me and Maria, it has mostly been about how we communicate. 

4You Value Effective Communication More Than Ever

Not all of us can stay on the phone for hours or reply to messages quickly. Though there is no rule on who should initiate a conversation, it cannot be the same person reaching out first. Blazing past small talk and diving into conversations that matter has helped us continue to strengthen our relationship. It could be as light as discussing the new episode of our favorite series, or as heavy as considering a new business. Working to establish honest and open communication helps avoid misunderstanding or potential hurt feelings, and gives us both a chance to grow together.

5You Become Creative

This could mean sending cake on special occasions, signing up for an online streaming account for virtual weekend movie nights together, or sharing a meal from your perspective favorite local Italian restaurants over a video call. Engaging in something you both love works as a friendship anchor. When you shake things up through surprises, celebrations, and other ways of connecting, you solidify that the two of you choose to remain in — and enhance — each other's lives. 

6You Take Trust and Faith to a New Level

We sometimes wonder what life would be like living close to each other. Being reminded of our ups and downs and what we've shared through the many years of our friendship gives us an overwhelming sense of security and peace. We understand that the foundation of our friendship isn’t about how often we hang out or talk, but in the connection we choose to nurture. On good and bad days, we know we have someone on the other side of the world rooting for us, who we know will always be there. Our mutual commitment and our unwavering faith in each other — and in our dreams — continue to keep us going strong. 

Another Day, Another Opportunity to Connect

I roll over to face the window and catch a small ray of morning light through the curtains. I grab my phone from the bedside table to check the time. It’s Saturday, 8:10 in the morning.

A couple of notifications, including a familiar one: “Good morning! Let’s do a call later with Jojo?” I get out of bed, go through my morning routine, and check the time again. By now, she is off work and has picked up little Jojo from daycare, just in time for us to catch up. 

Tags: Community, Creativity, Friends, relationships

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Written By

Andrea Conopio

Andrea is a writer, a digital content creator, and an advocate of mother earth and furry friends. See Full Bio

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