How To Maintain Long-Distance Friendships

I met my two BFFs thirteen years ago, on our first day of high school. But for the last nine years, we’ve mostly lived in different cities, sprawled out across the country. I miss them every minute of every day, and no matter what I’m doing, I’d rather be sitting on a couch with them in our cozy pants, watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Because that reality only happens every couple of years (if we’re lucky!), we’ve become experts in how to be long-distance besties. Here are my tips to being a good friend even when you’re 3,000 miles away!

Call your BFFs whenever you have 5 minutes to spare. We’ve realized that if we try to set aside more time than that, to have big life-update phone calls or video chats that last for an hour, we just never end up talking because we can’t find a time that works. So we call each other in 5-minute increments. My BFF Cella started this tradition during her walk home from work, which went straight up a brutal San Francisco hill. She’d call one of us to talk at her and distract her while she conquered the unwanted cardio session. Just quoting our favorite movies or talking about what food we’d eat if we could have anything in the world is a super fun way to stay in touch. It makes us feel closer because we talk about little things we’d talk about if we saw each other every day.

Watch movies and TV together over the phone. Instead of talking the next day to debrief on our favorite parts of 30 Rock or anything show involving a Kardashian, we watch them on the phone together in real time. It’s super fun to laugh at the same things at the same time or ruminate on Bruce Jenner’s patience. We also realized how many of our ongoing jokes are movie or TV quotes, so watching it together can breed something we will still be laughing at literally years later.

Shop via photo text. My BFF Julia is the innovator behind this amazing use of technology. She was shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding and texted me mirror photos from the dressing room to help her decide. Now we constantly “shop” together even though we’re miles away from each other. Online shopping and IMing at the same time is even easier!

Share a blog or journal. Zooey, Sophia and Molly knew what was up when they started Hello Giggles together – it’s an amazing way to share within a friendship! One summer in high school, I started a journal while Cella was studying abroad and gave it to her when she came back, then she took a turn with it. It was unironically titled “The Divine Secrets of the Lexcella Sisterhood” and it’s so amazingly funny and embarrassing to read now. And a couple of years ago Julia and Marcella started a food blog together where they post recipes and photos of food and drinks, Julia posting from California and Marcella posting from Washington, DC.

Absolutely dominate their Facebook Walls. Whenever I get a message that Cella or Julia has posted something on my Facebook wall I’m half excited and half terrified to see it, but every video, comment or photo they post makes me so happy and is a fun way to connect in a kind of public forum. Same thing goes for Twitter!

Make mix CDs or playlists for each other. We still make each other mix CDs and send them to each other! It’s fun to choose songs, decorate the cover and title it something inappropriate and then you’re on the same page music-wise the next time you get to see each other. The vast majority of our time together is spent dancing and singing to our favorite songs, so this is vital.

Send your BFFs birthday packages. Looking through Facebook photos of your besties’ birthday parties that you couldn’t fly across the country for is the saddest activity of all time. But you can soften the sadness by compiling a super fun care package for their birthday! Fill it with stuff you know they love, like when Julia sent Cella a package of meats and cheeses, or something that will make them laugh, like t-shirts Cella makes for us with our favorite movie quotes and hip-hop lyrics on them.

Remember the details. I know they’re there for the big things but I’m always so touched when my BFFs remember some small detail I mentioned and ask about it. The last time I talked to Julia she was baking, so the next day I texted her to see how her mini grapefruit plum tarts turned out. Small things are important!

Subscribe to airline e-newsletters or get a credit card with mileage points. Our visits are way too rare but I still try to stay tuned in to good travel deals so I can try to see my women! Virgin, Southwest and Jetblue all offer discounts frequently through their newsletters. Most airline reward programs are free, too, so you can work your way towards a free ticket if you don’t want to get a credit card just for the miles.

Tell them you love them!!! This should go for all your friends, all the time, but I always tell my BFFs “I LOVE YOU!!!!!” when we’re hanging up or texting or emailing. Much like Seth and Evan in Superbad,  I want to shout from the rooftops how much I love my best friends!

  • Jenny Lazo

    my best friend and i from high school have been friends for the last 14 years and the last 6 years she has lived in florida. it sucks, but we have been the closest of friends still. we do a lot of the things that you’ve listed here, it really works!

  • Meghan Dowell

    A super list. Thank you!

  • Barbara Bullemer

    I’m about to move 1300 miles away from my best friend of almost 10 years now. She is literally exactly like me and I have no idea what I’m going to do without her! I will definitely use these tips, though! Especially watching TV over the phone!

  • Genevieve Dreizen

    ghcat all the time. One of my besties is in Illinois (I’m in NY) and we gchat during the day. It keeps us up to date on our lives. My college roommate is in Portland, Oregon- I love calling her late at night when I’m waiting for my boy at the train- it’s 1AM, on a Thursday, who am I not annoying with a phone call? Well, it’s only 10 in Oregon!

    I also love to randomly email or message my friends memories from highschool or college. helps us to laugh together

  • Karen Lada

    HULU plus is freaking AWESOME if you want to “chat” about shows… there are other programs like that where you can type your comments during a show and it marks the part and you then can post to FB….. so, there is so much out there to bring us closer together. If there is a will there is a way!!

  • Amy Gallagher

    I love this post, because these are the exact same things that I do with my friends from my hometown. I have three best friends from high school and we all went to separate colleges. Even after a year of being apart, we’re still as close as we’ve ever been, if not more. We text all the time, call between classes, and write all over each other’s Facebook walls. Thank god for the internet.

  • Kate Wallace

    I love this! Most of my best friends live clear across the country from me so I can definitely relate! I would also add Skype to this list! I love talking to them on the phone and texting but sometimes you just need to see them!

  • Miranda Eubanks

    Amazing article! I recently moved away from my best friend and these tips are greatly appreciated!

  • Lauren Vaughan

    im in college and its hard to stay in touch over summer and breaks. i love this!!

  • Gillian Was

    Love this! I met my BFF Vicky 17 (OMG!!) years ago in college. Out of all those years, we only lived in the same city for 3. We talk every day via Twitter, Facebook, texting, and emails. I kinda miss the old days before all that, when we would mail each other letters that were practically scrap books. It doesn’t matter that we are on opposite sides of the country. She’s my rock, and I like to think that I’m hers. I also think the distance keeps us from taking each other for granted. Hanging out isn’t just what we do. It’s a really big EVENT. Even if we do just end up sitting on the couch eating watermelon.

  • Sarah Mihalus

    Thanks for the tips! I just graduated college and am living hundreds of miles away from my college friends :(. This is helpful.

  • Nicole Caron

    Such a great article especailly because I just read it after coming home from a great dinner in Boston with my three BFF’s. Thank you!!

  • Anna Czaczkowska

    Thanks :) Some I’m already all over, but you’re so right about some of these… I need to get way better about the birthday packages- it’s so much more meaningful when you actually put things in a box and wrap them for the person. My group of great girl friends is really all over, time zones make our freindships hell so e-mailing and having a private facebook group for just the five of us is great! Korea-Dubai-Sweden-Florida-Arizona- all of us getting together again gets pretty impossible! :(

  • Chelsea McMullan

    I love this! My friends and I all went off to different universities this year so this will help a lot! One of my friends came up with the idea of filming important things happening in your life or making a video blog, and uploading it to youtube (as private, or public if you want) and sharing it with them! That way, you can update them on your life without going through all the hassle of planning a skype call or whatever and they can watch on their own time! :)

  • Mariha Lowe

    I wrote a really long response to this. It really got me thinking about how my friendships have failed and how maybe this can save me and my current bestie! this is great, I love (the majority)of these ideas!

  • Chloe Foster-Jones

    Thanks so much for this! I’m getting ready to start college in NYC and my best girlfriends will be in Georgia and Boston… we already do a lot of these activities but I hadn’t thought of others! I will definitely share this article with them and use these tips to strengthen our friendships :) I hope to be as successful as you and your BFFs were.

  • Kaya Harridge

    I’m moving across the country to go to uni in a month, so this was well-needed. Thank you. <3

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  • Melanie Manfredo

    My bff sent me this link! Love you Jessness!

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