How to maintain long-distance friendships

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In the past three years, a majority of my friendships have drifted outside of my zip code. I have a few precious friends in my city, and the rest are scattered across time zones, countries, and states.

In a pandemic, it’s been even harder to feel close to them as we’ve all had to isolate, but I’ve gotten creative with ways to stay close when everyone is feeling so separated.

How to maintain long-distance friendships

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Voice memos

It sounds cheesy — but voice memos really are modern-day voicemails. My friends and I use messenger and Instagram to tell each other stories throughout the day, respond to questions or share memes. We love to hear each other’s voices, and it’s so nice when someone may already be asleep or waking up earlier than you because the voice memo doesn’t go anywhere!

Postcards

I collect and thrift postcards from local artists, vintage shops and thrift stores. I love to pick out postcards that remind me of my friends and send them! If you’re long-distance besties are comfortable sharing their address, this can be a sweet surprise. One of my best friends became a subscription member to an artist’s Patreon — and routinely sends me a copy of the monthly gift: a postcard! I love the idea of joining a membership like that with a friend and exchanging postcards regularly. I also like postcards as opposed to writing letters because I am more likely to send short form postcards than long-form letters. Also less waste in envelopes!

Monthly virtual hangouts

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I had no idea how to effectively use discord until probably last year — but now it’s my preferred mode of connecting with friends. Having different channels to talk about memes, tv shows tec is so much fun. Discord also has voice and video chat options — so groups can hang out and chat without having to be on camera. This has been a really nice way to connect with my friends and play games together or just catch up on a whim since it’s easy to see when other folks are online! Sometimes the simple act of eating dinner at the same time can really improve my mood and make me feel close to my friends.

Start a book club!

One of my best friends and I have had a book club for almost two years now. We take turns recommending books for us to read, and we read a chapter every few weeks. There’s no rush or time commitment — so when life happens we often take breaks or press pause, but it’s something like a secret club we really enjoy having together- and easily maintained over long-distance.

Send care packages

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This one is SO fun because I love spoiling my friends and surprising them! Etsy has loads of cute themed care packages available for purchase, or you can put together your own care package. This can get a bit pricey with shipping rates but is also so rewarding to share with friends.

Start a DND campaign

I know — Dungeons and Dragons? Really? YES. DnD is like a book club and playing video games with your best friends all wrapped into one. I highly recommend starting or joining a campaign with your friends, since sessions often meet regularly and are LOADS of fun — often lasting a few hours if they’re especially chaotic.

Watch a show regularly and discuss

This may be a better alternative to book club if folks don’t enjoy reading as much as watching TV shows or movies. For example, lots of folks are watching Euphoria right now — and you could set up a recurring invite to talk with your friends about the new episode as it comes out each week! Live streaming the episode or doing a group watch can also be a fun way to feel connected while enjoying the show.

Take a virtual class together

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I love activities with my friends. One class I really loved taking was Queer ASL 101 — and I would have LOVED to have taken it with friends! Learning a new skill or hobby or even a language together can be so rewarding and fun — and in many ways doing the homework together is so much more encouraging. There are often free paint nights, DIY craft events, and more online — heck even your local bookstore may have a free virtual event coming up that could use some support!

Collaborative playlists

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I love this option for friends who may not have as much availability to connect with me because of schedules. Sharing collaborative playlists is such an easy way to say “hey, I miss you, and was thinking of you” You can create a playlist for a friend, blend your profiles or work on a playlist together for good vibes when you’re both feeling down.

Start a podcast

I KNOW. Some people will hate this suggestion — but then it’s just not for you! Some people LOVE to chat with their friends, and being long-distance can be so challenging sometimes to recreate that feeling of “just hanging out” without a lot of structure. Doing a podcast remotely is so much easier now that so many guides have been published about the best equipment to get you started for a free or low cost. Starting a podcast just for the two of you can be a really fun way to have a reason to connect regularly and talk about your favorite hobbies, tv shows, or whatever else you decide to discuss. (you could also start a blog together — that could be fun).

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I’m no expert in maintaining long-distance relationships — but some of these ideas have worked really well for me and my friends. I think the biggest advice I can give is reminding people that you do want a meaningful connection with them, and want to feel close to them. Communication is an essential ingredient in LDR’s — and friendship is no different.

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Hey, I’m Liz Brinks (they/them) I’m a queer gender-non-conforming writer, business coach & cat-parent (@itsjuustliz everywhere) based out of Wisconsin!

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Liz Brinks

Liz Brinks

Hey, I’m Liz Brinks (they/them) I’m a queer gender-non-conforming writer, business coach & cat-parent (@itsjuustliz everywhere) based out of Wisconsin!

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