Keeping Friendships Strong over Long Distance

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Did you know that yesterday was Friendship Day?

This holiday is one that was originally introduced by Hallmark nearly 100 years ago for people to show their appreciation for their friends. Traditionally, Friendship Day occurs on the first Sunday of August.

Most of my closest friends don’t live near me. In fact, for about five years, my best girlfriend and I lived on opposite coasts; now we at least live in the same time zone, each if it would be a 20-hour drive to visit her. But we’ve been friends for more than 20 years, and there’s no way we’re letting the fire burn out now.

It can be difficult to maintain a friendship through years and distance, but it’s important. Friends are the family that we choose, and with technology these days, there’s really no excuse for not trying to be a good friend even over a long distance.

Here are my ideas for keeping a friendship strong when you can’t see each other regularly.

Schedule regular phone calls

With our busy lives, this is easier said than done especially if you don’t live in the same time zone or have different work schedules. This doesn’t have to be a daily thing, but do make it a priority. My best friend and I have a tradition of calling each other during halftime of Gamecock football games since we’ve been watching games together since college.

Facetime for coffee

Gone are the days of middle school sleepovers, and work and families make weekly brunches out of the question for most of us. (Though I wish we could be the gals from Sex and the City.) But that doesn’t mean that you can’t pick a day every few weeks to Facetime or Skype each over a cup of coffee.

Text a funny video

There are so many ways to let your friend know you”re thinking of her. Tag her on Facebook when you come across a funny meme. Text a video you know she’d get a laugh out of. If you come across an old photo when cleaning up, email or message to let her in on the memory.

Have a (long distance) movie date

When we were younger, my friends and had traditions of watching the Charlie Brown movies at the holidays, and I know that a few of us still do that with our families, so why not coordinate to do that one the same night. It can be a great way to keep friendship traditions alive. Or pick a movie that’s in theater and go see it the same afternoon so you can compare notes later.

Plan a surprise visit

This can be an expensive option, but it’s worth every penny. My best friend jumped in the car and drove to South Carolina to surprise me on my 25th birthday when she lived in Delaware. Ten years later, I still think of that as one of my best birthdays ever. Warning: you will need cooperation from your friends’ family or roommate and this may take months of preparation.

Send snail mail

I’m not just talking about cards at birthdays and holidays. We all love to get a hand-written note out of the blue, and care packages can be a fun for you to create as for your friend to receive. When my best friend was in California, we’d send her favorite biscuit mixes and barbeque sauces to her once or twice a year since her local grocery didn’t carry them. I could pick them up on sale so it wasn’t a huge expense to me, but it allowed her to have a little bit of home while living far away.

What are some of your fondest friendship traditions? Do you have additional ideas for celebrating your friendships and keeping them strong?

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