Real friends will stick with you across time zones the same way they will stick with you through relationship issues and career changes. It’s worth nurturing friendships even if a Sunday morning skype session isn’t the same as drinking wine in your pjs together (wine Skype date anyone?). It also makes the time you do spend together all the more meaningful.
I move a lot. The longest I’ve lived in one city as an adult was my four years of college (that counts right?). And let’s not even begin to talk about all of the different apartments, houses, and couches I’ve lived in/on since graduation.
Here’s a quick summary: CO>OH>DC>SEA. Next stop, San Francisco. (And who knows where I’ll be after that!) Without a doubt, the best part of moving around has been the friendships I’ve made over the years. The bummer part? When you move, your friends don’t move with you.
I can’t say I have ever felt the need to quote Ludacris, but “I’ve got hoes in different area codes,” has never felt more #relatable. My best girlfriends live in Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York City. My best friend in Seattle is moving back to D.C. in just a few weeks, and it has really made me think about how scary and overwhelming it can be to navigate modern friendships. How do you maintain closeness when you are thousands of miles away from each other? How do you navigate the loneliness that can come with moving to a new city when your support system is scattered across the country?
Of course, it’s easier than ever to stay connected thanks to smartphones and social media, but it takes a bit more than a snap of me lounging on the couch mid-Netflix binge to keep the fire alive. As I’ve been reflecting on my long-distance friendships, let me share how I nav this experience.
FEARLESSNESS: Needs Improvement
I’m going to be straight up with you–this is a damn scary thing to navigate. My friendships can be classified as the ride-or-die variety (the “Broad City” type). The type of friends you don’t bother putting makeup on for because you’re going to drop in on them unexpectedly for 90 percent of your hangouts.The prospect of being alone in a new city without that level of comfort and closeness is challenging for me. Even though this isn’t my first rodeo, it doesn’t get any easier when I inevitably make my next move.
The good news is that in-person closeness does translate to long-distance closeness. If you feel like you can call up a friend anytime when they are in town, why not do the same when they live across the country? Sometimes this ends in hilarious games of phone tag, but having friends I can call at a moment’s notice has helped curb the loneliness that comes with moving to a new city.
I know that the moment I talk with my close girlfriends or we see each other again, everything will fall back into place like we saw each other just yesterday.
I think Snapchat can be a great platform for sending little jokes or snapping a quick picture of something that reminds you of your friend. And don’t be afraid to use the calendar on your phone! I’m not the best at birthdays so I have reminders set up in my phone
I’ve learned that for me, making time to travel with or visit girlfriends really helps me feel connected. I’ve taken trips to Paris and Cabo with some of my best friends and those memories will last a lifetime. Visiting friends on their home turf is extra special because you always have a place to stay and you get a peek into their day-to-day and their favorite local jaunts of some of the coolest cities.
I’ve learned something from moving and leaving behind the day-to-day comfort of having my best friend as my roommate or neighbor: I’m capable of building strong-lasting friendships and relationships and I’m pretty good at making new friends, too!
I asked some other millennial women about the things they do to build resilient friendships with their long-distance friends:
“One of the things that helps most is staying in touch about the small stuff. The big stuff is always going to be discussed, but the small stuff is what makes a relationship feel strong.”
Sydni, Indianapolis IN
“My friend who lives in D.C. set up flight alerts on Cheapo Air and Kayak. Whenever she sees a great deal on flights, she lets me know. It’s such a great way to check in with your friends, and if we can make the dates work, I visit!”
Natalie, Seattle WA
“I travel for work so if I’m visiting a city near a friend I look into extending my work trip by a couple of days so I can spend the weekend with them.”
Brooke, New York NY
Ultimately, any effort you make is worth all of the shared trust, memories, and love that comes with having wonderful friends in your life.