Long Distance Friendships
I moved away from all of my friends and family at 18 years old the summer of 2018. I moved from Michigan to Nashville on July 1st and although I had plans to go to New York City at some point or maybe move back to Michigan eventually to settle down close to my family... God had other plans for my life.
Only a month after moving I met my now husband and almost three years after moving, we've been married for two years and our son is four months old. Funny how that works.
I longed for friends for a very long time and it wasn't until recently that I've really put down roots and started branching out into what I would call my “adult friendships”.
I have been at a little bit of a disadvantage because I didn't go to college. Moving to Tennessee I already had experience with long distance friendships because my friends had gone off to college and I'd been doing long distance from Michigan for almost three years already. I knew how to do the texts, monthly FaceTime dates, visits when we could and take advantage of the summertime. But moving to college is far different than moving across the country because with college, you know you're coming in the summer. When you move for your career and to get life experience, you aren't coming back.
The summer comes and goes and you see your friends living it up but you're still there. It's hard.
I could still catch up with people and occasionally friends would visit but it was a lot harder and inevitably I drifted apart from the majority of my friends.
I'm thankfully still in contact with some of my high school girls who are more like sisters to me and we get together or talk every chance we get, but there is still some depth that we lack after having been apart for so long.
Making friends in your area is important but I'm not going to tell you how to do that because I kinda don't exactly know how I made the friends I have now. It's just kind of happened. I took chances, I introduced myself, I became close with people on social media and we got together and kept at it until it was comfortable. And some people I inherited through Dustin and we've gotten closer over the years. But even then, I think keeping long distance friends is totally feasible and I encourage you to try!
Here's a few tips I've learned over the years.
Let go of the expectations and realize that things will change.
I know it can be easy to say “don't worry, nothing's going to change, we'll always be friends”. While the second part of that statement may be true, if you don't shift your perspective on the first part, you won't be able to stay friends.
You have to realize that things are going to change in one way or another. You're not going to be able to stay up to date on the little details of the ins and outs of the day to day. You're not going to meet the new people that come into their life and know who and what they're talking about. You're not going to be able to be there for them to cry on your shoulder or show up for them when things get rough unless you have a ton of money and time and flexibility to travel. Things will change, but that doesn't mean that it will break you. That leads me to the second point.
You're going to have to learn to adapt.
You won't always get to see each other when you're both in town. You won't get as much time or attention as you're used to because the people in your day to day life will slowly start taking up more of it than they did when you were around. Like I said things will change which means you're going to have to adapt. It means you can't get upset with your friends for not talking to you everyday. It means that you're going to both have to make effort to see one another. It means that you're going to have to learn other ways to cope and work through things that maybe they helped you through before. You can still maintain your friendship but if you expect them to still play the same role, you're going to crumble.
You're going to have to be very intentional.
That being said, you're going to BOTH have to be very intentional. This means setting boundaries and ideas into place before the move happens. Maybe you make a standing date of every Tuesday night you hop on FaceTime and make dinner together and catch up. Or Monday's you text while you watch The Bachelor like you used to do at home together. Whatever you can do so that you maintain something that you used to do together, just apart. But you'll have to set boundaries too about not calling one another and expecting time every single day. Or reminding them that when you're with other people you won't be able to talk but you love them and will make time when you can. You need to set up ways to get together in person a few times a year and you'll both have to be intentional about making it happen. You can make the time and effort, you just have to do it.
You have to know when to let go.
At the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, some long distance friendships just don't work out. Because guess what? People change and move on and evolve without you and that's okay, but it just means that you might not be meant to be in each other's lives anymore. Obviously you can still follow one another on social media and generally stay in touch, but maybe it's not meant to be a day to day friendship anymore. Sometimes this happens because they change a lot and they're not who they used to be. Sometimes you grow up and opinions change that you can't get over. Sometimes life gets busy and you drift and sometimes you realize that you weren't really that close, you just saw them a lot because of mutual friends, a job or your circumstances. Whatever it is, know when to value yourself enough to stop pouring into a one sided friendship and focus on those who are still trying to pour into you, even from 500 miles away. It will also give you time to pour into the people who are right in front of you who want to be your friend. It doesn't have to be some big dramatic breakup, it can just be that you simply stop reaching out and making the time.
I know how hard long distance can be, but with the right people, YOUR people, it will work. My mom has been long distance for 20+ years with her high school best friend. That's a testimony to me that with time, effort and mutual respect and love, you can make it work.