By Olivia Rogine
This summer, after seven years of living in the same city (and often under the same roof!), my best friend moved away from D.C. in pursuit of a new chapter in the Big Apple. When she told me, I was… crushed, to put it lightly. I played the gradual decline of our relationship out in my head—the way we would make plans to catch up that would ultimately fall through, how my own insecurities of being replaced would fester resentment and jealousy (I’m working on it!), and so on.
Then came the weeks of dread that followed, and a goodbye tour of festivities that made me wish we had taken a little more advantage of our close proximity for all those years. By the end of our tenure living in the same city, we’d fallen into a routine—we were so deeply comfortable with one another that it became relatively easy to simply exist together, without much thought or effort. Her goodbye tour—a weekend extravaganza of favorite restaurants, bars, and D.C. landmarks—made me realize there was a silver lining to our new normal. From now on, we’d have to be intentional about our friendship again.
Two months in, I realize that her move to Brooklyn has already challenged us to think about how we can remain close while we are physically far from one another. It’s helped me reframe my own complicated experience with long-distance relationships in my 20s. I’m finally at a place (I think?) where I can see our long-distance friendship as an opportunity to both be intentional when we’re together and thoughtful when we’re far apart.
If you, like me, have felt the overwhelming transience of your 20s and 30s shape your friendships, you probably get it. It’s hard (read: nearly impossible) to build a life in the same place as all the people you love! So here’s what I’m doing to maintain and improve my long-distance relationships – with my bestie in Brooklyn, my sister in San Francisco, and beyond:
1. Share in the big things and the little stuff, too.
When someone isn’t around for the day-to-day stuff, it’s easy to just focus on major life updates. While the big moments are undeniably noteworthy, it’s often the little things that are missed the most. That awkward run-in you had at the grocery store, the thing that made you crack up in the middle of work, the pure moments of joy and oddity that surfaced throughout your day - that’s the good stuff, don’t forget it!
2. Plan something to look forward to.
Something I learned many goodbyes ago is that parting ways with a loved one who lives far away is hard enough—not knowing when you’ll see that person again makes things 10 times harder. Now, any time I say “see you soon,” I mean it. Before each visit ends, I make a point to make a plan for our next in-person quality time, or even a regular call, so we have something to look forward to.
3. Add a personal touch.
I’ve always found that a handwritten note after a visit goes a long way. Sometimes, though, it can feel a little intimidating - I have to find the right card, set aside time to find the right words, and then slap a stamp on and remember to mail it. Woof. For perfectionists (and procrastinators) like myself, that’s a lot to get right. So lately, I’ve really enjoyed sending snail mail with a modern twist by using the Ink app. For $2, I can design a postcard with photos of our visit and a personalized message. It’s a meaningful (and easy) way to extend your visit and reminisce together.
4. Initiate random acts of kindness, just because.
Have you ever received a thinking of you text from a friend or a partner that just made your day? Yeah, me too. Unexpected gestures that interrupt your day and warm your heart are kind of the best. Some of my favorites are:
- Venmoing your long-distance friend or family member for their morning coffee
- Sending flowers just because
- Mailing your loved one postcards from restaurants you want to go together on an upcoming visit
- Instagram DMing or tagging your person in inspiring, funny, and noteworthy content for daily affirmations to start off their day
I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating relationships with the people I want to spend my life with – from the friends that support me to the partner that challenges me and the family that loves me, from far away or not. I’m bracing myself for more friends to start migrating, but if and when they do, I’ve never felt more equipped to keep our bond stronger than ever. And, who knows? Maybe distance really does make the heart grow fonder after all.