19 Perfectly Thoughtful Ways to Maintain Long-Distance Friendships

When you’re miles apart but close at heart, make distance feel shorter with these easy tips.

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Be aware of your friend’s communication style


If you’re the type of person who gets separation anxiety when you leave your phone in the other room, it can be frustrating when a friend takes hours (or even days) to respond. But a slow reply doesn’t mean a lack of care. Your friend is likely waiting for the time to craft a thoughtful response, or the chance to sit down for a back-and-forth rather than a one-word text back between work meetings. Everyone communicates differently, so gauge if your friendship would flourish best through daily texts, occasional phone calls, or an ongoing email chain. Don't make these texting mistakes that annoy others.

Treat phone dates like real get-togethers


Because you’re not physically meeting with the other person, it’s easy to feel like a phone call doesn’t deserve the level of commitment you’d normally give. But especially if there’s a time difference between you and your long-distance friend, rescheduling could be tricky if you back out. Emergencies happen, but try to respect your friend’s time instead of pushing back the time because you're exhausted from your commute or work friends are grabbing drinks. (Make sure you're on time too: Check out these tricks to stop always being late.)

Don’t get caught up in the past

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Yes, it’s fun to reminisce about the great times you had when you were in the same city. But to keep your friendship strong, you need to know about each other’s current lives too. Instead of limiting yourselves to memory lane, keep each other posted on your families, jobs, and weekend plans.

Stay connected as often as possible


Checking in only with big news is nice, but the real depth comes when you know intimate details. Friendships will stay strongest if talking regularly becomes part of your routine, whether that means daily, weekly, or monthly. Text your friend about the little things, like the great new ramen place he’d love or the embarrassing story you know will make her snicker. Here are some surprising times texting is actually better than calling.

Load up emails with long stories

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Email is a happy medium when you can’t pin each other down for a phone call, but a text message just won’t do. You can be long-winded with all the juicy details you’ll friend will want to hear about your new job, and the other person can read and reply on his or her own time.

Send mundane pictures

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Nothing to talk about? Snapchat is a great way to keep tabs on each other’s lives without forcing small talk when you have nothing “real” to report. Use the app, or text a picture of your semi-impressive dinner or the wacky outfit your kid picked to get your friend’s reaction.

Video chat regularly

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Something about the face-to-face nature of a video chat makes conversation feel so much more natural than a phone call. Even if you don’t have any big news to report, set aside time for a virtual conversation. Apps like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangout make it easy to set up, no matter what device you use. Here's how to be a better listener during those calls.

Write talking points before a call


Sometimes, by the time you pick up the phone, everything that’s happened since you last chatted feels too mundane to talk about. Carry around a mini notebook, and jot down tidbits you think your friend will want to hear about. Look it over before your call so you’re prepped with funny anecdotes and exciting everyday news.

Do some social media stalking


When did Facebook stalking get such a bad rap? Stay posted on your friend’s life by scrolling through his or her social media. Instead of grasping at straws with a “How are things?” text, you can just be straightforward and ask about your friend’s recent hike or 5K.

Follow the same shows


Hunker down for a long-distance Netflix marathon, pressing play at the same time so you can text each other through every plot twist. If you can’t coordinate schedules like that, simply tuning in to the same show every week will give you something to connect over, even if you have to record it for later.

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