How to Stay in Touch with Long Distance Friends

Everything about friendships and how you can stay in touch with your long-distance friends. Summary of 6 key ways you can stay in touch with your friends

Family & Friends
"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler

Can you think of the most fun moments in your life that do not involve your friends or loved ones ? There are very few to none, isn't it ? We might feel happy and joyful when we accomplish something as an individual, but that joy is multiplied when we share the same with our friends and family. We are social beings and find happiness in our associations with our friends and family. Due to career, education or lifestyle reasons, many relocate from their home towns or where they went to college. As they relocate, their friends become long distance friends and it can be very challenging to keep in touch and share the same level of relationship you had in the past. In this article, we will look at why it is important to keep in touch with your friends, challenges and how to keep in touch with your long distance friends.

Why is it important to keep in touch with Friends

Friends are an integral part of our social life. Think about your childhood, when you were in school, who were the people whom you always interacted with other than your parents ? It is your friends right... Do you think it is any different during your college life ? probably no, most of the time we spend is with our friends.

Friends shape who we are and reflect our interests, values and aspirations. It can be very hard to get the same level of comfort and closeness with anyone, other than your collegemates or childhood friends. As we grow older and get into professional settings, we draw lines to ourselves on how we address someone and how we hang out. Though you may hang out, drink and dance with your colleagues, they are purely social interactions and seldom that transforms into close friendships. So, it is very important to keep in touch with your friends from your childhood and college, so that you be yourself when you hang out with them or interact with them in any form.

What are the common challenges to stay in touch with friends staying overseas or long distance ?

Below are some of the very common challenges that many of us encounter to stay in touch with our friends overseas or long distance

  • Different Cities : If you and your friends are living in different cities and separated by a distance that is not commutable, it can be very hard to do common activities together. This creates that barrier to stay in touch.
  • Different timezones : Sometimes, your friends may relocate to overseas or different timezones within same country like move from New York to San Francisco. Though you want to keep in touch, your timezones and activities schedule can be different, hence create the barrier to stay in touch.
  • Changes in personal life - married/kids, divorce : As we progress with our lives, some get married, some do not , some have kids, some do not...some end up in divorce. The differences in our personal life and commitments can make it hard to keep in touch with friends. E.g. If you have kids, you tend to spend time with couples or friends who have kids as it makes your life easier.
  • Out of touch : Sometimes, it could be just as simple as you moved on with your life and you never got the chance to reconnect with your friends. It can be tricky to go back and again reconnect... as we grow sometimes, it can hold back us to get back in touch.
  • Busy with work/life: One of the most common reason everyone says is, "I dont have time, I am busy with work and life". Though it sounds very trivial, it can be a valid reason for us not to keep in touch with our long distance friends.

Above are just a few of many of the reasons why you may not be able to keep in touch with your friends.

Now that we understand the challenges, let take a step back to understand what is the core principle that will drive you to keep in touch with your friends staying long-distance from you.

Think of your friendship, understand what made you friends

It is important for you to understand the fundamental reason why you have been friends with someone in the past, before you figure out how to keep in touch. If you look back at your previous years, you will get a good sense of why you and you friend had a beautiful friendship for many years and what mad you friends in the first place.

These reasons could be as simple as you liked their values, you liked their interests, your friendship started with helping each other, they were there for you when you needed a friend, you were preparing together for exams, you had fun times going out together, you played a sport together, etc.

Once you understand this, it will be easier for you to re-kindle your friendship over long distance or with anyone whom you have lost touch with. It is important to take a step back and understand the core values you share with your friends so that you can take the extra effort to stay in touch...

Now that we understand the reasons and causes, let's look at how we can keep in touch.

6 Ways to keep in touch with your long distance friends

Below are some of the very common ways to keep in touch with your long distance friends.  

1. Keep in touch with Social Media

It is a no-brainer for anyone to say that social media is the easiest way to keep in touch with long distance friends. Just being on social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc. may or may not help to stay in touch. To keep in touch, you need to interact and it has to be both ways. If your friends share their fun moments, life events, activities, a simple comment, or like can go a long way. It keeps you connected in this virtual world and in their thoughts, though you do not meet them directly.

This method works well, if the the person on the other side uses social media actively, if not, it may not work. You need to find others ways to interact or stay in touch with them. Also, if your friend is not on social media or not comfortable using it, you can teach them on how to use it and educate them to use it with privacy so that updates stay within your friends group.

2. Utilize your commute time, outdoor walking or driving time

Many of us spend a good amount of time either commuting or driving to another place. Instead of listening to that podcast or radio, you can give a quick call to your friends and catch up with them. We underestimate the amount of spare time we have commuting to work either using public transport or driving in a car. Also, 5 min to 10 minutes of scrap time you take to walk to a grocery store, walk from parking lot to your home or office can be used for staying in touch with your friends.

If you speak often, you do not need more than 10 minutes to catch up with your friends to stay in touch on what is happening. The compound effect of speaking 5 min to 10 min every month will add up and keep your relationship stronger. It is much better than you speaking for one hour once a year. You may think, you need more than 10 minutes to speak to your friend, but if you speak often, you dont need that much time...use your scrap time to stay in touch.

If you do not think you can speak and end in 5 to 10 min, send a text message or IM over WhatsApp or Telegram updating on what is happening with you or asking about what is happening with them. These short messages now and then help you stay in touch.

3. Put a reminder to call calendar for birthdays, important days

The best way to make someone happy is to remember some of the important days in their lives like birthdays or marriage days and call them on that day to convey best wishes. You could also call on Friendship Days, New Years Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. and wish them as well. If you cannot call, sending a personal message on WhatsApp or posting on Facebook would also help make your relationship stronger.

The easy thing to do is to keep a reminder in your calendar and take few minutes of your time to send a note or call them. In recent times, many just send a message on WhatsApp or some IM channel. It is one among many that they get on social media. Take 5 min of your time and make the call to your friend, it will have an impact and make your relationship grow stronger.

4. Setup recurring appointments to make calls, video calls

My close friends live outside of the country, where I currently live. Due to timezones and buy life, I used to miss out on calling and staying in touch. Randomly one day, I setup a recurring appointment in my calendar to call my best friend once every 6 weeks. It worked like magic, I would get an alert every six weeks and I make a it a point to adhere to the alert and make the call. Of course, sometimes, I would snooze it for couple of hours or a day, but would never dismiss it. It made me re-connect and make our friendship stronger. We do video calls and it feels great after we chat for few minutes. With video calls, you can connect with the person as if they are next to you.

Most of us are busy with our lives and we might need a reminder to call our friends. Though you have it in your heart that you want to speak to your friends, having a tool like reminders to make a call with help you stay on track. Video calls are the best as you can see and experience the emotion. If you cannot make the video call for whatever reason, at least make the audio call and speak to your friends, it will make a difference.

5. Plan to meet in-person as time allows

Nothing beats in-person interactions with anyone. Though we have all the state of the art technologies like VR, AR, Video Calls, multiplayer games, etc.., it does not come close to meeting in person. Many a times, due to distance, location constraints you may or may not be able to meet in person every few months. If you cannot meet every few months, make it a priority to meet your close friends once every couple of years.

If you are in the same country, it may be easier to drive or fly for some special occasion or even vacation. If you live in different countries, try to find ways to meet mid-way or have your transit on the way to make a small pit stop and spend few days.  It may or may not be easy, but make the attempt to plan and discuss on the best way to meet your friends in-person.

6. Do some activities together

If you look at your friendships on how they were built, they were for a reason. It could be things like both of you liked the same movies, games or books. Maybe, you were in the same band together or played in a team together. That's what made your friendship bond, why not re-kindle that, if you are not doing it. Below are some common things you can do.

  1. Play online games together : If you both like playing an online video game, you can try to play it together. Maybe you can team up and play it. It is the most common thing these days.
  2. Read a book together: You and your friends can pick up a book together and read at the same time. You can have a short check-in to see how you both are enjoying the book and discuss some ideas from it.
  3. Do a course together: If you want to learn anything, it could be academic or a hobby, sign-up for a course together. You could do it together.
  4. Watch Sports or Movies: If you are into sports or movies, you can both have a watch party together.
  5. Any other common activities: Above are just few examples, you can pick up any activity where you can both can do it together at the same time. Doing something together will help build your relationship.

Now that you have looked at some of the best ways to stay in touch with your friends, let me hear from you. What do you think are the best ways to keep in touch with long distance friends ?

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Jeevi Editorial Team

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