It’s not uncommon for young politicos and activists to make friends online, or at conferences, and then have to work to sustain those friendships when they go home to houses spread across the country. I know a great group of three girls who met through this very website and have maintained a strong, vibrant friendship even though they live in three different states. I’m writing this after getting back from an amazing visit to see my best friend of fifteen years, and we’ve not lived in the same state for the past six years. That got me thinking, how have I fostered these long distance friendships? How have others made it work? Here’s a bit of advice if you’re new to the “long distance friendship” world or just want to strengthen the bonds you already have. 

Don’t underestimate a text

I hate hearing “why do you have to text him all day” from people who don’t understand how much I enjoy hearing about the absolute mundane tidbits of my best friend’s life. It’s not like college or high school where you spent all your time together. These texts and phone calls are what keep you feeling like you are aware of what each other are going through. Don’t forget to tell them about stubbing your toe, meeting a cute boy, and texting them what you had for dinner because it can make the friendship stronger by being more honest and authentic. 

Make your visits count

Spending time with someone you haven’t seen in months, who you actually crave seeing, is one of the best feelings in the world. Don’t over-plan the visit–let it happen naturally. Stay up late talking. Get drunk at brunch and confess all your secrets. Go to church and worship together. Make it something you’ll smile about when you recount it to your friends and family back home. Don’t use this time to fight over something silly or focus too much on the world outside. Devote this time to growing your friendship while you’re there. Learn about their life when you’re not there. Take as many pictures as you want. 

Introduce each other to your ‘there’ friends

Something that has made me feel strong in my long-distance friendships is talking about them to my own friends and meeting their friends when I visit. It makes everything feel real, plus it makes the conversations you have from afar more well-rounded. It’s also cool to be the person they ask all the questions about what your friend was like growing up, et cetera. 

RELATED: 5 Signs You Need To Let Go Of A Toxic Friendship

Letters & cards

Even though my best friend and I text every single day, there’s a huge smile that spreads across my face as I write him a postcard or letter, even if it doesn’t matter at all. Send cards just because they have a funny quote in them. Write down ten of your favorite things about them. It goes a long way, and they can display them somewhere to remember you when you’re far away.

‘Thinking of you’ gifts

Friendship doesn’t have to be expensive, but I’m a sucker for dropping my friend a ‘thinking of you’ gift whenever I come across something that reminds me of him. He does the same thing–picking up books he finds that he knows I’ll like. I know girls in long distance friendships that send each other Starbucks gift cards during finals and stressful periods. You don’t need an occasion to send a coffee mug that made you smile.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member