How To Survive A Long Distance Friendship


Meleah York, Assistant Editor

In the summer of 2014, my best friend Percy moved to California. He and I had grown up together in our church, and we’d known each other since preschool. It was around elementary school when we became closer as friends, and by fifth grade we had accepted that we were platonic soulmates.

Seventh grade had been a rough year for me. It was the beginning of middle school, I didn’t have friends, and I suffered from anxiety issues. But what kept me going was seeing Percy every Sunday, having sleepovers most weekends, and just spending time with him and our friend that made up our bestie triad, Sarah.

When Percy told Sarah and me that he was moving to California, I was distraught. I remember coming home to my parents that day and crying in their arms. Even though I knew that he’d have to come back for occasional visits with his dad (his parents were divorced), it still hit me with so much force that I began to fear him forgetting about me or moving on to different friends and leaving me back in Texas. I’d been dumped by many friends before, they never seemed to stick around. I was afraid that this person I looked up to and loved so much was going to leave me like the rest of them.

Percy and I are coming up on four years of our long-distance friendship, and we are closer than we ever have been before. At first it was difficult. We would text and FaceTime often, and he was excited about the new life he was beginning and new world he was creating around him. I supported him 100 percent, but felt as if I couldn’t voice how much I missed him. He was starting to become so much happier, and my gut reaction to tell him about how much I missed him seemed to not be appropriate at that time. I wanted to assuage his own fears about moving away.

Eventually we settled into a nice groove of texting and sending each other Instagram posts most days. Watching my best friend thrive and witnessing his relationships and self-discoveries in a different perspective has only strengthened our bond. It’s gotten to a point now where we don’t need to make a conscious effort to communicate to keep our friendship alive. We know that we will always support and be there for each other, even if it’s thousands of miles away. There might be some stretches of time where we may not communicate for a while, but it is never out of anger or dislike towards the other. The main goal of long-distance friendships is trust in the other person, and I trust Percy more than anyone else.

I know that there might be some students that have long-distance friendships or know that a person close to them is moving soon. With four years of experience, here is some advice that I have in not only keeping a friendship long-distance, but benefiting from it as well.

  1. Communication. This is probably the most important. It’s already easy to talk to your best friend about anything and everything, but when there’s added distance it may take more effort. Percy and I usually have a conversation over text at least once a day, and a couple of times a month we have a two to three hour phone call, if not longer. Keeping your best friend updated about your life is key in making it feel like you still value them and want them to be included.
  2. Little things. Simple things that you do with your friends that live in the area should be applied to strengthening a long-distance friendship. For example, sending them spicy memes or inside jokes to bring them a smile. Also, don’t be shy to gush over your best friend on social media. Comment about how cute they look in their Instagram pictures or brag about them on Twitter. But don’t do it for the sole purpose of keeping a friendship. Do it because they’re literally the most handsome creature on this earth and need to know how amazing they are.
  3. It’s okay if you don’t talk every day. Sometimes Percy and I go through a few days where we’re just busy and don’t have time to talk at all. Don’t fret. If you’ve been fighting to keep your friendship alive, that strength will get you right back on track when you have a free minute to chat. Make sure that your friend knows you weren’t ignoring them, and tell them about how busy you’ve been (there’s that communication again!!!).
  4. Don’t let a fight or disagreement end things. Obviously, if you’re committed to keeping a friendship with your most treasured pal, you don’t want to lose them, but fights do happen, man. While Percy and I hardly ever argue anymore, we’ve been there. And it’s been hard. After a fight, give both of you a chance to cool off. This may mean no spicy meme exchanges for a few days. Once you’ve had a chance to calm down and look at the situation in different viewpoints, send your friend a text to let them know you’re ready to talk. It’s okay if you’d rather talk about it over text, but I’ve found that discussing over the phone helps because you hear your bestie’s voice. Make sure that you’re respectful, and try to see the other side of things. But like I said, if your friendship has lasted and you’re willing to fight for it, everything should be back to normal within a day.
  5. Talk to your parents about visits! For me, it’s a bit easier to see my best bud because he visits occasionally to see his dad. But it’s also so much fun to see your friend’s new life and meet their friends! I flew up to California for Percy’s birthday back in May for a couple of days and it was so cool to be able to see what his normal had turned into. If you can and are able to afford it, have your parents communicate to set up a visit. It definitely depends on distance, but actually being around your favorite person will give you all that good nostalgia, bro.

To wrap it up, long-distance friendships can be really rough. But the more effort you put into helping your relationship thrive is going to help you in the long run to feel more comfortable and trust the other person more. Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would, because I really do think that Percy moving to California only strengthened our bond. And I truly hope that your own long-distance friendship thrives as well.