As most of you probably know, I’m currently spending my gap year in Japan. This means that I’m pretty far away from all of my friends back in the UK where I come from, definitely further than those who have decided to move a few cities away for university.
Certainly, looking at my Snapchat map, I can see that I’m much further away from the cluster of people in the UK than anyone else.
Anyway with that background established, it’s time to move on to the main topic of this post: staying friends with people in other countries.
I mean, I’m probably not that experienced in the topic considering I’ve literally only been here for a couple of months but I guess I still have a couple of ideas on how to manage a long-distance friendship (I also have a few ideas on how NOT to maintain a long-distance relationship, but that’s another story…).
TIP 1 – You Can’t Force a Friendship
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start trying to maintain a long-distance relationship of any sort, is that you can’t really force one. Very quickly it’ll become apparent that some of the friendships you aimed to maintain just won’t work out. Maybe it’s down to different schedules or maybe you just use different social media sites. Maybe you just end up running out of things to say. Most likely, though, your friendship wasn’t as strong as you thought. At the end of the day, if both participants put enough effort into keeping up the friendship, you should manage just fine.
TIP 2 – Jealousy is Natural, but By No Means Good
It’s most likely that at least one of you is going to be meeting a lot of new people and making a lot of new friends. And often this means that you might end up feeling a little put out, your bestie is out there having a lot of fun with other people and worries start creeping in that they might replace you. This is probably a natural sort of feeling, but try not to freak out and maybe bring it up to your friend for reassurance. If you actually take the time to think about it, you’ll soon realise that this is just your brain being worried for no reason.
TIP 3 – Stay in Near-Constant Contact
I don’t mean you have to be literally talking to your friend every second of every day, I mean try to avoid not talking for extended periods of time. If something funny happens, text your friend (regardless of whether or not you know they’ll reply instantly). I guess what I mean is, try to keep a running dialogue rather than sticking to one long conversation every month.
TIP 4 – Make Good Use of Social Media
These days there’s really no excuse to not be able to contact someone. With countless social networks, that allow you to send messages, photos, videos, GIFs and more, as well as ones that allow audio and video calling, it’s fairly easy to find some domain to stay in touch with people. Try to use more than one medium too – sending people videos of what’s going on around you can add a whole new layer to a basic text conversation and allow your friend a deeper understanding of your life.
TIP 5 – Don’t Forget About Older Methods
Sure, sending someone a Facebook message is instant and pretty damn simple, but there’s something so exciting about recieving actual physical mail. A postcard would be pretty cheap to buy and hopefully not too expensive to send, or you could go super old fashioned and send a letter. It may seem kinda pointless because you can easily write the same thing on Snapchat, but a handwritten letter says so much more, in terms of effort.
TIP 6 – Plan to Visit (if possible)
Of course this probably isn’t simple for everyone, because of the costs involved, but if you or your friend can afford to visit, it’s definitely worth doing. Not only will you be able to spend some quality time together, you have the chance to introduce your friend to your city, your other friends and your general way of life. When they go back, they’ll probably have a much better understanding of what you’re telling them when you chat. As well as this, the planning stage will give you a lot to talk about.
TIP 7 – Understand They Won’t Always be Available
This is especially true if there’s a huge time difference. Sometimes you’re going to need to tell your friend something really important NOW. But they might be busy or asleep. This is something that you’ve just got to accept. Trust that as soon as they can, they will get back to you.
TIP 8 – Talk Deep, But Talk Nonsense Too
Often, your best friend is someone that you could tell anything to. This level of trust and communication should stay the same, regardless of distance. Tell your friend your problems and worries and listen to theirs but remember, you guys also need to have fun and silly conversations too. Both types of conversation seem to be essential for bonding, whether you live next door to each other or on opposite sides of the world.
And that’s pretty much all of the tips I have on staying friends with someone who lives far away. So far, it seems to be working for me and my one and only bubble tea bae, the girl who requested this blog post (love you Mel).