How to Cope With Long-Distance Friendships | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

How to Cope With Long-Distance Friendships

Deputy Editor Kat Smith considers the challenges of long-distance friendships and what the best techniques are to keep these friendships strong

Graduation, years abroad, university and life in general throw up all kinds of obstacles for friendships. While romantic relationships may steal the limelight when it comes to distance posing problems, it can also be difficult when a friend is no longer sat next to you in your lecture or isn’t a short walk away in Selly Oak anymore.

It’s good to keep a sense of normality in your friendship
I’m going through that transition now; a number of my university friends have graduated or flocked abroad for a year. One of my closest friends is in Australia, another in South Korea and the rest in Europe. It’s not easy when you suddenly find yourself on a different path to those closest to you, but there are ways for your relationships to flourish even when they are physically absent.

Let Go of Pressure

The biggest thing I have learned is that pressure doesn’t always make diamonds… it can suffocate the life out of a friendship and make it seem like a chore.

It’s important to remain in contact, of course. However, scheduling in a two-hour Facetime call every weekend sounds ideal until you find yourself drowning in work, caught up in your social life in the ‘real world’ or even if you just forget. Life is unpredictable and you may cause resentment if there’s an expectation to constantly keep in contact.

The fact is, you’re both in different places doing different things, so your schedules aren’t always going to match up. Make time for each other, but don’t force it.

Don’t Change your Tune

I find that messaging people in the same way I would when they’re five minutes away helps massively. Constantly asking each other how you are can feel like a reversion back to the MSN days of ‘wuu2?’, ‘nm u?’ that I doubt many of us want to carry forward into our adult friendships. It’s surreal updating someone in Australia about my essays or sending pictures of my cats to them, but it’s good to keep a sense of normality in your friendship. An easy alternative is sending memes, because who doesn’t love being tagged in a meme?

Be respectful and enthusiastic for their life, you’re in each other’s lives for a reason
Be Confident

Your lives are probably a little different compared to before, when you may have been leading similar days in similar social circles. It can be isolating when either you or your friends move onto different things. It’s easier said than done, but being accepting that your friends will make friends with other people too is important, just as you do when you try new things. Being possessive or competitive in friendships is never healthy, but it’s almost more important when you are physically distant. Be respectful and enthusiastic for their life, you’re in each other’s lives for a reason.

The Little Things Matter

I’m a bit of a wet wipe and I love sending cards or lame messages to my friends. Just as you would put effort into a romantic partner, it’s important to show your friends you’re thinking of them. It’s not about showering each other with gifts or bombarding them with messages but instead about little gestures when you know they’re having a hard time, or celebrating their achievements. Of course, it’s not the same as being there in person, but it’ll be appreciated more than you know.

Distance is a part of life and something we’ll experience more as we venture into the adult world. It doesn’t have to be a hindrance if you don’t let it and it can even allow your friendship to develop more than before.

Current Deputy Editor, confused philosophy student and pitta enthusiast (@katlouiise)


29th August 2018 at 12:00 pm

Last Updated

28th August 2018 at 11:55 pm

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