If you’re just now joining the conversation, we’ve been talking a lot about social media around here — the good, the bad, the airbrushed — and one point that’s come up a lot is the extent to which Facebook and Instagram can make us feel close to others, when we might not actually be. When we see the highlights of the people we know, are we really keeping in touch? It can certainly feel like it, but when it comes to truly maintaining deep and meaningful friendships, a “like” just doesn’t cut it.

Most of my family, including my sister, lives across the world, and one of my very best friends is in the UK. Believe it or not, social media doesn’t play a role in our keeping in touch at all. Instead, it’s the frequent phone calls and consistent communication that have kept our relationships strong for years. But there’s more to it than that. Here are my 6 tips for keeping your most far-away people feeling close.


1. Look ahead.

Whether it be 6 months away or 3 years away, it helps to always have your next reunion on the calendar. Knowing that you have another meeting date on the horizon gives you a shared event to look forward to, and instantly prolongs the life of your relationship.

2. Create traditions.

Think about it: the holidays, annual family reunions, they exist to serve as a predetermined gathering time each year. But really, these traditions can look like whatever works best for you. My sister, her husband, and her two kids live in Israel, so we’ve created a ritual where she comes to Texas in the spring, and I visit her every summer. With that, I know that at the very least I’ll see them twice a year.

3. Don’t forget birthdays (and Facebook doesn’t count)

Let’s be honest. Facebook birthday messages take about as much effort as a high five. Instead, take the time to make a phone call, have a video chat, or even send a gift.

photo credit oh happy day

4. Use snail mail. 

Sending a handwritten note on cute stationery is about the easiest thing you can do to cheer someone up. Whether it’s to celebrate a new home, a baby, or just to say ‘hi,’ do this one thing to let your far-away friend know you care.

5. Use technology.

Social media is great, but it doesn’t encourage any real one-on-one interactions. When it comes to sustaining my long-distance relationships, I’m nothing without WhatsApp and FaceTime for true substantive catch-ups.

6. Get creative.

When your friends or family live across the world, seeing one another takes cleverness and out-of-the-box thinking. Stay in regular communication to know whether your personal travels align. You never know when you might be able to coordinate a meet in another city, or choose flight itineraries that allow you to extend a layover near one another. I often intentionally look for flights connecting in London just to sneak in a 24-hour visit with one of my best friends!

7 comments
  1. 1
    Maureen | September 11, 2018 at 8:29 am

    One of my bestfriends lives across the country. We have been unable to visit each other since my wedding which is coming on 20 yrs ago. We talk and write and we enjoy conversations that go on for almost 2 hours. It is so nice because we pick up right where we left off. I treasure it.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Eva | September 11, 2018 at 11:19 am

    I have a few friends scattered around the country and I miss them so much! I think it’s so important to pick up the phone, I find that these days casual texts and Insta messages just don’t cut it anymore. Thanks for the reminder of what’s important <3

    Eva | wwww.shessobright.com

    Reply
  3. 3
    Katie | September 11, 2018 at 11:40 am

    These are such great tips, especially the one about making traditions! After college, many of my friends spread throughout the world, which is amazing but also hard! One of my goals is to get better at keeping up with them. Thanks for posting!
    | Katie Actually |

    Reply
  4. 4
    Andrea | September 11, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Great post and beautiful photos! FaceTime is such an awesome tool to have for long distance relationships and should definitely be utilized!
    http://expeditiontoeuphoria.com

    Reply
  5. 5
    izabela | September 26, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I instantly got the weirdest feeling when you mentioned how much Instagram stories make you feel as though you have a close relationship with someone when you really don’t know them. Whether one of my favorite bloggers is pregnant or getting engaged, it makes me emotional as though we’ve been friends our whole lives.

    Nonetheless, you’ve made some great points. My boyfriend and I have been in a LDR because of college for 2 years now. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s not impossible. It’s definitely the level of communication that we maintain that’s really helped us overcome the distance. Making plans and traditions, those are things we look forward to and keep things exciting.

    Reply
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