Our friends are our chosen family.
Making and sustaining close relationships with people that we love is a fulfilling and special part of our lives. Our friends know who we truly are, accept our flaws and have shared memories, experiences and moments that enrich our lives together.
In this day in age, healthy and strong adult friendships are truly hard to come by. Yet, friendships are essential to our health and social well-being.
In a 2010 health review, it was found that friendship is just as beneficial to your health as exercising regularly or quitting smoking.
With friendship being such an integral part of our lives, it’s important to notice what it takes to preserve and strengthen these relationships, especially when they are long-distance.
My best friend, Supriya, and I met when we were both 10 years old, but we were 18 the last time we lived in the same city. Ten years later and still living away from each other, our experiences, creativity and many games of phone tag have continued the bond she and I share. I’m grateful for the loving commitment we have to always make an effort to show up for each other in our long-distance friendship. Heyyy Pri! 🙂
But this is not without hard work! She and I have had periods of not communicating due to time zone differences, busy schedules and overworked nights. We have made “phone dates” that have came and went and are juggling our other relationships, as well as taking care of ourselves.
With all of the life challenges that have come our way, there is one aspect of our friendship that has kept it strong and loving: consistency.
Throughout the years, consistency has played a major part in our multiple moves, changing jobs, new relationships and life transitions. There are behaviors, actions and traits that we work through that have not only maintained, but have strengthened our friendship from girlhood to adulthood.
Here are 4 ways you can strengthen your long-distance relationships with loved ones and friends:
Consistently take initiative.
When relationships with our loved ones become one-sided, resentment, passive aggressiveness and disconnection comes through. Both you and your friend will need to put in the effort and energy to sustain your friendship.
With years of experience, my best friend and I both text, call, direct message on social media and leave each other hilarious voicemails to stay in contact with one another. We discuss our availability and regularly make “phone dates” based on our schedules. With her living on the west coast and me living in the south, this is an essential part of keeping our friendship strong.
Both of you have to put energy into making plans, organizing your schedules and communicating when you are available. If you are noticing that your relationship is becoming one-sided, do a “check-in” with your friend to see if they have noticed too.
Consistently be present.
Our devices and busy minds play a huge role in not feeling connected to our loved ones. We are sometimes easily distracted and our minds are focused on the future instead of the present.
The bestie and I try our best to talk on the phone when we are least distracted or only when completing a mundane activity, like folding laundry. When in-person, its all about each other with limited distractions. We are focused on what each other is saying and we both feel appreciated for choosing to be present with one another. It’s a good feeling!
Find times to put your phone down, turn off your TV and minimize your YouTube account to give your friend your full attention. Explore creative ways to be fully present in conversation with them as much as you can. Ever tried the Phone Stacking game? Talk about a worthwhile challenge!
Consistently balance expressing yourself and choosing your battles.
Noticing what’s in your invisible luggage not only helps you establish healthy boundaries, but it also helps you navigate which disagreements are worth having with the people you care about.
Expressing your thoughts and concerns, while not arguing frequently requires insight and balance. Make sure that you are not holding in pent-up feelings because you planned the last 3 activities or because your friend forgot to call you yesterday. Tap into your patience and compassion, while managing your boundaries.
Consistently support one another.
Y’all, adulthood is exhausting. If anything, we need our loved ones to show up and be on time as a listening ear, a sounding board and our advisory committee. Strong friendships include being a mutually beneficial supportive system for one another, to hear what each other is going through, offer your support and check-in on how things are going.
Our friendships are meaningful and important to us. Being consistent in how we show up for each other is healthy, dependable and an excellent way to become a better long-distance friend.
How do you maintain your long-distance relationships with loved ones and friends?