Lately I’ve been talking a lot about making new friends because we just moved half way around the world, and starting over in the friend department is no small task. There are tons of amazing ways to meet new people and make new friends after moving.
But what about your old friends?
There are a handful of best friends that I consider lifelong relationships. After moving far away (especially halfway around the world) maintaining old friendships does take a bit of work.
I often struggle with remembering that these relationships need work and investment. When I am far away from dear friends, it’s even more important to me to make time for these special group of ladies.
Here are a few ways I work to grow and strengthen my long distance friendships:
1. Use your technology wisely
Everyone writes the same tip…Skype or video chat with friends and family far away.
But I also think you can take it a step further. We schedule actual dates to Skype or video chat. Sometimes we use Google hangouts because you can chat with multiple people at the same time for FREE. Other times, we simply use Skype.
Scheduling regular dates to video chat with each other forces you both to be intentional with making time.
Weekly chats with the parents and bi-weekly or monthly chats with friends make all the difference in growing a long distance friendship. You always have something to look forward to, and you stay connected. It’s all too easy to become more and more distant as time goes on. Regular chats matter.
2. Make special occasions a priority
I’m the first to admit, I’m not the greatest when it comes to sending cards and packages for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Now that we are far away, I’m reconsidering that. Sending something special to a close friend helps you feel connected. It also offers something tangible to touch or hang onto when you cannot be in physical proximity to each other.
I love getting packages. They make me smile and feel happy. I can only imagine that others feel the same way. I’m working on being better about this.
I think we can all take it another step further and Skype or video chat for special occasions. When I talked about building community far from home, I mentioned this is yet another awesome way to feel connected. We often schedule a video chat for Christmas, birthdays, and many other special days.
Take it one more step and actually open cards or gifts you sent over video chat. I love doing this. We get to share a moment together, you know? Seriously though, it really does help grow and strengthen friendships immensely.
3. Ask for visitors
In military life, we are often the ones moving away from our friends, unless they too are military. I like to ask people to visit me, and I like to ask them often. It can take a person up to 10 times to change their mind about an idea.
So for example, if a friend isn’t totally game for visiting you for various reasons—kids, work, money, etc—it could take several times asking and encouraging her to visit before she would actually pull the trigger.
It’s not always easy to take the position of a nagging friend. I try to mention it casually to avoid coming across as too strong.
I do think asking for visitors is important though. Having friends visit you allows them to see what your life is all about, which helps grow and strengthen your friendship. It also allows you to spend time in physical proximity together. So important.
4. The work may fall upon you.
In a perfect world, friendships would always be 50/50. In military life, this is not always the case. I often find that sometimes, I need to put forth the extra effort to make my long distance friendships work. It is simply the way it is.
It’s important to me to stay close with far away friends. Sometimes that means I have to make a greater effort to send packages, emails, set video chat dates, and ask for visitors. When you are the far away person, it’s easy for a friend to carry on with everyday life. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I get that.
It would be so easy for me to sit here halfway around the world and feel sorry for myself. Sorry that my far away friends don’t pay enough attention to me. I’m not saying I’ve never thrown myself a pity party from time to time, but as a general rule, I try to veer in the other direction.
Instead, I accept that sometimes I may need to make the extra effort. I’m willing to put in the extra effort because all lifelong friendships take work, but they are all important. It really is so worth it in the long run!
What are your best ways for keeping your long distance friendships close?
I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there! Please share in the comments so we all can learn!
Want more on military life?
- 21 Long Distance Friendship Truths Only a Military Spouse Will Understand
- The One Thing You’ll Miss Most During Deployment
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
- 15 Must-Do Things to Prepare for Deployment