If you've been around for more than a few minutes, I am sure you've heard me talk about my girlfriends. I have wonderful ones, hilarious ones, women who have been by my side every step of the way for years—through bad decisions and bad haircuts, through dreams coming true and being bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.
They're my lifeblood, the gas to my engine, the loves of my life (other than my husband, of course).
But while I have these people in my life, and while my life is deeper and richer because of them, I also am living with the reality that they’re really far away. (A 20 hour drive if I was crazy enough to road trip it.)
I think lots of us are this way. Lots of us are in long distance relationships with our girlfriends, and if you've ever had someone you love really far away, I know you know what I'm talking about when I say it's really hard.
It's also totally inevitable. We meet for four glorious years in college before scattering and going our separate ways. Or we meet on a mission trip, or while working for a company, and then the trip ends or it's time to move on and we find ourselves separated again.
These days, we’re all in a perpetual state of transition.
And this reality begs the question: Are friendships really worth investing in?
If you know you're going to make friends only to scatter and go your separate ways, is it really worth investing, putting the time and effort in to get to know someone you'll just end up losing?
Yes. Always yes.
Being separated from these loved ones is never easy. But their friendships are still more than worth it. They still bring me joy, comfort, support snd encouragement that I would not have if they weren't in my life.
So if you’re in this place with your best friends—if you’re about to scatter, or have just gone your separate ways, or are debating whether or not to deeply invest because you know you wont always live so close together—here are some of my best tried-and-true tricks for staying close no matter the distance.
1. Get it on the schedule
If you’re anything like me, you’re the reluctant queen of saying, “yes! Let’s get together/talk, we will make it happen!” and then watching as two months has gone by without the phone call or coffee date.
We don’t mean to be this way, but we are. Life gets busy, things slip our minds, and before we know it it’s been months since we connected to the people we love most.
That’s why we have to get it on the schedule. I know people who have Skype coffee dates with their girlfriends every Sunday morning. Or who have a weekly phone call over lunch with their best friend. My girlfriends and I aren’t quite so regular about it, but we do have to get things on the schedule if they’re going to happen.
It may feel forced, but it’s not. It’s just intentionally making time for the people you love the most.
2. Share the little things
One of the worst things that happens as a result of being far apart is that we miss the little things. We catch up on the top stories in each other’s lives, but we miss out on the little things about each other’s lives that make life so sweet.
My girlfriends and I have been learning to share these little things. It’s as easy as a text, or a photo, or a detail shared over gChat. But it makes me feel so much closer to them when I know that each day at 3pm Michelle gets up from her desk to make a cup of tea.
It’s random, but knowing that makes me feel like I’m much more a part of her life.
Don’t just share the big ticket items. Share the little things too. They matter, they really do!
3. Use technology to your advantage
Technology gets a bad rap these days for keeping us distracted and more disconnected than ever. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, technology affords us more ways than ever before to keep in touch with people who are far away. So use it to your advantage!
Instead of just thinking about a long-distance friend during a girls night, FaceTime her! My girlfriends FaceTimed me a few weeks ago when they were all hanging out, and it made my heart so happy to know they were thinking about me. It also allowed me to be a part of the night, even if just for a few minutes.
Another thing my girlfriends and I do a ton is gChat. It’s a minimally invasive way of catching up during the workday. Of course we don’t do it all day, but we do check in and get to talk more than we would without it. It’s a great way of catching up on the little things, or sharing something funny, or asking for advice or prayer on a particularly tough day.
4. Put your money where your heart is
One of the hardest parts about being long distance is that it’s expensive. I don’t know a single person these days who can say, “Oh I have plenty of money to fly wherever I want!” Nope, most of us are saying things like, “I’d love to come visit, but I just can’t afford it.”
Well if we’re going to stay close with these girlfriends, we’re going to have to put our money where our heart is. My best friend Michelle is amazing at this. She saves up the money, and buys the ticket. She is phenomenal about visiting her friends all over the country, and it’s because she’s intentional about it. Having this face-to-face time, and weekends to build new memories does wonders for our friendships. So if we want to make it work, we have to put our money where our heart is.
Friendships with women can be some of the most life-giving relationships we have. A good group of girlfriends is life-changing, and worth investing in and hanging onto.
Yes, it takes some extra work, but yes you can do it, and “Yes x1000000” is it worth it.
P.S. I also have a podcast episode all about keeping in touch with and staying close to your long-distance friends. Check it out here.
And, on the topic of friendship, make sure you check out my guide on how to make friends in a new city!