How to adapt to a long distance friendship

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your best friend moves away, or life pulls you in different directions? Long distance relationships can be tough, and friendships are no exception to that. But it's possible to adapt and strengthen your bond, even when miles apart. In this article, we'll explore the emotions you might experience and provide actionable tips to help your friendship flourish even when apart. 

Feel your feelings 

When you find yourself living far away from a best friend, it's natural to feel a mix of emotions. You might experience excitement while also feeling sadness, nostalgia, and a sense of loss. It's important to acknowledge these emotions and allow yourself time to reflect on the changes in your friendship dynamic, perhaps with a focus on getting the most of any new arrangements between you.  

Dealing with FOMO 

Because we share so much of our lives on social media, it can bring up difficult feelings when you see your friend forming new connections or enjoying activities that used to be ‘your thing’ with others. It’s very unlikely that your friend is doing this to hurt you and they’re most likely wanting to make the most of their new life where you can’t easily do these things together anymore. It might help to invest time in yourself during this period and find things that bring you joy, rather than focussing on the way things have changed. 

Find your own rhythm 

It can feel lonely when an important relationship changes. You may feel like you’re being abandoned, that perhaps your friend thinks you did something wrong or you’re being ‘left behind’. Looking after yourself during the transition might include focusing on what you now need like making new friends or starting up a new interest. Neither of these means you’re ‘moving on’ from the friendship, it just might help with acknowledging new opportunities whilst appreciating what you still have with the friend who has moved away. 

How to maintain a long-distance friendship 

Although your friendship will undoubtedly change during this period, it can be helpful find ways to redefine what your bond will look like moving forward. Here are some ways to ensure you keep your bond strong even when apart: 

Understand both of your love languages 

Love languages can help us to understand how we like to give and receive love. Different people have different preferences and knowing what these are can help us to ensure we show up for our best friend in the way that they need us. For example, for some people, quality time is important, but others feel most loved when they receive a thoughtful gift. You can find what your love languages is here. 

Give the friendship time to adapt 

Both you and your friend are going through a big change, and it may take some time to find a new routine that feels fulfilling for both of you. Try to approach this openly and be aware you or your friend might need time to settle before you're ready to give lots of time to your friendship again. 

Find your new ‘thing’ together 

A change to your friendship gives you both a chance to look at what you want from the relationship. Different connections fulfil different needs and this can be an opportunity to decide together what your friendship will look like. Will it be a hilarious friendship where you send memes daily but rarely Facetime? Will you instantly share news about your shared hobby but it can be weeks without a deep text? Or maybe you’ll Facetime every week for a detailed catch-up and know exactly what’s going on in each other's life. Try to find what suits you both. 

Speak with a professional 

Friendships can be tricky, and just like romantic relationships, sometimes talking with a professional can help us to get clarity and find a way forward. Our counsellors are experts in relationships, including friendships, and can help you to understand the challenges you’re facing and support you to move forward. 

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