Between high school and college, the guys who I would consider my closest friends currently live in the following locations: New York City, Philadelphia, Austin, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Mozambique. Girls? All throughout Virginia and Atlanta. Needless to say, I live in none of these places.
We all know long-distance relationships suck. Nightly phone calls that are required and forced instead of spontaneous and relaxed, long stretches of time never seeing each other bookended by playing marriage for a weekend, and awkwardly pixilated Skype sex with real porn strategically and secretly placed in the upper right corner of the screen are all awful.
Still, while you typically only have one of these travesties going on at once, there is another distance dynamic that gets far less attention. Jobs are harder to come by and our generation is far more willing to travel, leading to what can only be described as long-distance friendships.
It is a very strange feeling to actually have friends, a decent amount even, and still stay at home watching movies by yourself on a Friday night. Facebook chatting while swiping right with hope in your heart can only take you so far.
1. Talk on the phone.
This one definitely comes easier for the girls. It never felt natural to call up my boys and say, “So, how are things?” Still, a pretty big aspect of being friends is knowing what’s going on in each others lives. Remember sharing stories Saturday morning as you all nurse hangovers? Remember going to wing night and making fun of each other for hours? If something happens that is funny or noteworthy, pick up the phone and call. Otherwise you’re going to get called out at a post-wedding intervention for being a bad friend.
2. Participate in annual events.
Whether it’s the night before Thanksgiving with your high school crew, homecoming with your best friends, the fantasy football draft, or a another exciting yet depressing friend’s wedding, life is going to hand you natural events that can keep your friendships afloat. No matter if you don’t want the reminder that you’re still single, don’t want to be hungover for a family holiday, or don’t want a night of awkward, “Wow, good to see you,” with everyone else from your high school class, you need to take full advantage of these situations. They come few and far in-between, and they’re generally less expensive than…
3. Planned visits.
In college, road trips were so easy. You and your friends would pile into a car with minimal notice or preparation and take off to paint a different town red for a change. After graduation, instead of being in one car and going from one location to another, you’re all in different cars or on different flights, unsure as to which location to actually travel to or which friend to visit, and schedules never match up perfectly. Oh, and gas is a lot more expensive when you’re the only one paying for it, not to mention the bar tab. Still, you need to try and find the time or the money. I am quite possibly the worst at this, but as an adult I am fully entitled to say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” and mean it.
4. Show some extra effort.
Have you ever sent a Christmas card to anyone other than your grandma and girlfriend? You should probably start. When it’s your out of town friend’s birthday, do you make more of an effort than writing the same “Happy Birthday” on their Facebook wall you do for everyone else? You probably should. Something has to replace the shots you’d typically buy or the strip club visits you’d usually instigate. Unless you make one of those aforementioned road trips in honor of a friend’s special event, you definitely have to make more of an effort to make up for the distance. That being said, weddings are not optional. You absolutely have to go to those.
5. Don’t ignore those around you.
No one likes a girlfriend or boyfriend that can’t do anything without his or her significant other. When it comes to friends, don’t be that person either. Maybe you and your coworker are at different points in life. Maybe that ancillary friend from college and you were never that close. Make plans with them anyhow. Taking advice from Drake is an awful idea in general, so don’t be afraid to make some new friends, if for no other reason than to have something to talk about with your old friends. You might surprise yourself.
Long distance friendships suck, but they’re just another part of growing up. Hopefully these tips can prevent you from fucking yourself though like you would end up doing in long distance relationships. It’s always better to avoid sticky situations.