Staying Engaged with Long-Distance Friendships

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It was Oprah Winfrey who best defined modern friendship when she said, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

That’s the bona fide definition of a true friend. 

For some of us, the older we get, the harder it is to make friends. We’re busy with our families, work schedule, and day-to-day lives. But the truth is, old friends are golden. These friends know us better than anyone. It’s helpful to keep in touch with our old friends, whether they’re near or far. Here are some tips to stay engaged in your long-distance friendship's lives.

1Make Every Sunday a ‘Phone Home’ Day

As Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich once said, “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.” This is so true, especially with your oldest friends who you’re most comfortable with. But a real friend wouldn’t just call you at 4 a.m.; they’d call you on a Sunday afternoon and ask you how your weekend is going. Make Sunday your “phone home” day to your oldest, best friends. Pop a bottle of rosé and join them on a video chat. Staying in touch this way helps keep the friendship strong, no matter how near or far your friend might be. Plan the call ahead of time, so you both make time out of your everyday lives to connect and chat for an hour. You won’t regret it.

2Send Snail Mail

Don’t forget to send friends a letter in the mail, even in this time of digital literacy. Friends will keep your letters for a long time. Whenever you find something that reminds you of them or whether you mail them just a hand-knit sweater, it's worth taking the extra step to let them know you’re thinking of them. It’ll help make their day. As fiction writer Heidi Wills said: “A friend is someone who makes it easy to believe in yourself.”

3Do Something Fabulous to Celebrate Birthdays

There is nothing more special than remembering a friend’s birthday year after year. Even if a friend lives far away, order them flowers from the local florist in their neighborhood, book them a day at the spa, or mail them a copy of their favorite book from school. If you go out of your way to make your friend’s birthday special, they won't ever forget it. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

4Plan Regular Trips

Even if your friend lives in a different city, make the effort to see each other at least once or twice a year, whether it’s a ski trip or meeting up in your favorite beach town. Get an Airbnb, split the cost, and book flights to meet up for a weekend. It’s a beautiful reunion every single time, and you’ll make golden memories that make life worthwhile. 

You could also take turns visiting each other’s current cities. That way, it’s not one person doing all the work but a clear split in travel efforts. Brigitte Nicole summed it up best when she said, “How beautiful it is to find someone who asks for nothing but your company.”

5Bottom Line: Make the Effort

Friendship is like a plant — water it regularly, and you’ll give it life. We all know this is the basis of a friendship. Nowadays, some people think friendships are simply watching someone’s Instagram stories or liking their photos. But it comes down to much more than that. In truth, it takes a considerable effort.

Don’t forget to treat your friends with as much respect as you can. You get out of it what you put in. Put in the effort and keep your old friendships alive; they’re the most important ones you have. As British writer C.S. Lewis said so eloquently of friendship, “What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.”

Tags: Communication, Friends, relationships, Family

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Written By

Nadja Sayej

Nadja Sayej is journalist based in New York City writing about design, architecture and culture for Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and Barron's, among others. See Full Bio

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