1. Set a regular date
With busy schedules and clashing time zones, squeezing in long-distance phone calls can be a challenge. Finding a time that works for both can alleviate this pressure: maybe while commuting to work, or texting once a week will do the trick.
2. More isn’t always merrier
Instead of defaulting to catching up by phone calls or texts, make sure you communicate with your friend about what method works best for you both. ‘Friends need to talk about their preferred methods of communication,’ says Dr Irene S Levine, a psychologist and friendship expert. She also stresses the importance of talking about how frequently each friend wants to be contacted. Alternatives to constant written communication? Voice memos or a group chat dedicated to funny photos.
3. Practise empathy
You may be the friend who left or the one who was left behind; parties in a long-distance friendship will have different hurdles to overcome. ‘The friend who is remaining needs to be sensitive to all the additional time demands placed on the friend who has moved,’ says Levine; the one in the new context should be sympathetic to the fact that their friend may feel abandoned. Acknowledging the struggles each friend faces will lead to better communication and understanding. ‘It’s also helpful for both friends to offer each other assurance that the friendship is a keeper,’ she says.
4. Remember important dates
Birthdays and anniversaries carry even more weight in long-distance friendships. Although technology might make day-to-day communication possible, on special occasions, extra effort goes a long way. Sending a birthday card can do wonders for the relationship. Keeping a diary that tracks friends’ birthdays/important dates will make sure nothing slips by you.
Guardian News & Media