Watching a friend move away is one of life’s bittersweet moments. On one hand, you’re excited for their new life chapter – be it growing their family, making career moves, or following their dreams – but the feeling of loss can be unshakeable. And we’ve all let that feeling take over, resigning a friend who moved across the country or even two towns over as a part of our past. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Similar to a long-distance relationship it takes some extra care and nurturing.

The biggest secret to a thriving long-distance friendship? Letting your relationship evolve.

If you hold on to the same expectations and routines that you had when you lived right down the block from each other (or maybe even in the next room over), you’re all but guaranteed to make the transition into a long-distance friendship rockier than it needs to be. So take a deep breath, and get excited about seeing where your relationship takes you next. Maybe you’ll be inspired to jet across the world or drive across the country to go visit them (this writer’s done both)! Or maybe you’ll discover that having a pen pal is way more fun than you ever thought it could be. Either way, these tips will help you keep your friendship strong — no matter how many miles separate you.

image by kristen kilpatrick

image by claire huntsberger

Let them Have their Space

This is my number one tip for when it comes to letting a relationship evolve and grow. Sure, you may have seen your friend four times a week when you lived in the same area, but you both need to be honest if swapping those dates with hour-long nightly phone calls is becoming too much. Instead, know that going a couple of days – or even a couple of months – without having a heart-to-heart doesn’t mean you aren’t friends anymore. It simply means that you’re both busy living lives that are full of all kinds of connections, your long-distance one included.

image by steven simko

FaceTime is Always Better than a Text

Anyone in a long-distance relationship knows that tone often goes out the window over text. So next time you feel like your long-distance friend is being cold, get a FaceTime session on the calendar. I’m willing to bet that the distant vibes you were getting were simply because she was texting you on the go or was too tired to include her normal shower of emojis and GIFs — and that she’ll be her usual self once you get her on screen.

Setting up a regular schedule for video chats is a great way to have something to look forward to with your friend. Bonus points if you can schedule it directly after (or during!) a TV show or activity you would normally watch or do together. Add in a glass of wine or a cup of coffee for both of you, and you’ll feel like you’re practically in the same room again.

image by Molly Culver

Be Thoughtful

Because you likely won’t be talking as frequently as you did when you lived in the same place, it pays to go the extra mile to remind your long-distance friend that you’re thinking about them. These thoughtful gestures can be as small as sending them a picture of something that reminded you of a time the two of you spent together, or as big as putting together a care package if you know your friend could use some extra support. You may not always be able to hop on a flight to go and see them, but truly thoughtful gestures will keep you feeling close.

image by kristen kilpatrick

Include Them in the Little Things

Though it pays to give your long-distance friend some space, including them in the little day-to-day parts of your life when you can is another one of my top tips. Think about the small stories you relished sharing with them when you would catch up over coffee and try to brainstorm creative ways to continue to include them. Maybe you both agree to listen to that podcast or watch that show you’re obsessed with so you can have someone to re-hash episodes with. Or maybe you randomly send them that meme that made you laugh so hard you cried. Or maybe instead of telling them about that makeup look that went horribly wrong, you send them an selfie of its aftermath.

Doing any of these things will keep your friend feeling like they are a part of your everyday life and not just someone you’d like to catch up with next time they’re in town. And if you can strike the right balance of space and connection, you’ll be amazed at how your long-distance friendship can flourish and grow.

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