In the post-college phase of life, it sometimes feels hard to meet new people. But three years ago, I met a coworker who I knew would be a friend for life. Michelle and I connected instantly and quickly realized we had a lot in common: a straightforward attitude that people could sometimes find brash, a sarcastic sense of humor, similar tastes in music and books, and an interest in writing.
Just a few months after we met, Michelle got married in Hawaii. When she got back, she started talking about how she and her husband wanted to move there. I didn’t think much of it. Who wouldn’t come back from a beautiful tropical place and want to stay forever?
In the next couple of years, as we became closer and closer friends, she would occasionally talk about their long-term plan to move there. One day she came into work talking about how she was going to take her dogs to get the shots they would need for the standards in Hawaii. My heart sank, and I started to realize this wasn’t a “someday” dream, this was a serious plan. And this March, she packed up her life in Massachusetts, and she, her husband, and their two dogs set off on an adventure to Hawaii.
So what do you do when one of your besties moves 5,000 miles away? It took a little while, but over the past several months, we’ve figured out some ways to stay connected.
1. Figure out the time difference
Hawaii is a long way from Massachusetts, and there’s a six-hour time difference. It’s tough when you can’t talk to your friend 24/7 like you’re used to! But we still text a lot, and we figured out that the best time for phone calls is when I’m leaving work, and it’s mid-morning where she lives. She isn’t working 9-to-5 hours right now, which helps, but even if she does, I’m sure we’ll figure out another time to talk.
2. Be each other’s cheerleaders
Although when Michelle first moved to Hawaii, I gave her a hard time, sending her lots of guilt-tripping texts, asking when she was going to come back, deep down she knew I supported her dream. It’s important to let your friend know that you support them and to still be there for the bad days too. When I have a stressful day at work, or when she is feeling a little homesick, we still figure out ways to cheer each other up.
3. Find the right medium
Nowadays, there are a million different ways to stay connected. It can be easy to fall into a text/social media-only habit, but actual phone calls or video chats are so much more personal. Even though she’s far away, we still send each other silly text messages and post goofy cat videos on each other’s Facebook pages.
But some of the other things we’ve started to do is write long emails when we want to talk about our week, and we make the effort to have actual phone calls. It feels good to stay updated on each other’s lives.
4. Be there for the big stuff
When holidays or big life events pop up, it’s important to have some kind of recognition, whether it’s a gift or a visit or just a text message. Just a couple months after she moved, Michelle texted to let me know she had already booked her plane ticket for my wedding in September. And with her birthday right around the corner, I’m planning a box of fun stuff to send her. My fiancé and I are even brainstorming how and when we could go visit (because how often will we have a free place to stay in Hawaii?).
Maybe someday Michelle and I will live in the same place again. And maybe we won’t. But either way, I know it won’t matter because when you find a true friend, it’s worth the work to keep up your long-distance friendship.
Your turn! What are your tips for surviving a long distance friendship?