Like most people who grew up in the ’90s and ’00s I was obsessed with Friends. But now that I’m approximately the same age as New York’s most famous squad, I realise the sitcom has actually done me a great disservice. And before you leap to Joey and Chandler’s defence let me first explain…
Thanks to Friends I always assumed that I’d spend the entire duration of my twenties living within walking distance of my best friends. But that’s not been the case. And, instead of sleeping across the hall from my BFFs, we’re separated not just by postcodes, but cities too.
Some of my very best friends live miles outside of London, so there’s no chance of ever grabbing a spontaneous coffee on a Tuesday afternoon, à la Monica and Rachel. Nevertheless, we continue to play key roles in others’ lives. And here’s a look at how we maintain quality, long-distance friendships…
PLAN FRIENDSHIP DATES
It’s not ideal, but scheduling time together is absolutely essential. I always try to make plans with my long-distance besties about a month in advance. That way we can find a date that works for both of our hectic schedules. And I also highly recommend planning holidays with your LDBFFs.
I regularly travel with two of my closest long-distance friends (Monica and Dani), and it always feels like such a luxury to get a generous bulk of quality time together. It’s also so nice to create special memories together when we might otherwise lead quite parallel lives.
FIND SOMETHING THAT KEEPS YOU CONNECTED
The majority of our close friendships blossom at work, university or school. But once you move on from these environments to pursue your own path it can be easy to lose touch – despite your best intentions.
So it’s key to find something that keeps you connected. That could be a joint project, a goal you’re both working towards that you can support each other with (like training for a marathon), or simply committing to reading the same book or watching the same TV show so you always have a reason to get in touch.
I have a weekly WhatsApp chat with my BFF from uni every Sunday evening when we both watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette. We only get to catch up IRL every 6-8 weeks, but by enjoying this guilty pleasure together it feels like we’re hanging out all the time. And Monica Welburn and I work on the Let’s Discuss podcast together, which keeps us in constant contact – even though she lives in the countryside and I’m based in the city.
Friends That Eat Together Stick Together: With Dani (left) and Monica (right).
CELEBRATE THE EVERYDAY TRIUMPHS
Your bestie just aced a presentation at work? Send a celebratory text or email. They just got back from a promising first date? Call and get all the gossip ASAP. The little, everyday triumphs so often get overlooked, but celebrating them together can help keep your friendship strong. So don’t just wait for big occasions like birthdays, promotions, weddings and babies to celebrate your BFF. Commit to being head of their cheer squad every single day!
SEND SURPRISE GIFTS AND SNAIL MAIL, JUST BECAUSE
And, even when there’s no reason to celebrate, don’t hesitate to reach out with surprise gifts, snail mail and e-cards to show you’re thinking of each other. Monica is especially great at this, and will regularly send out cute Paperless Post cards or handwritten notes just to say hello. Letter writing is a habit that I’m currently trying to get back into, because it always brightens my day to receive correspondence from friends and I’d like to spread some of that joy too…
Do you also live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away from your BFF? How do you maintain long-distance friendships? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts…
Photo strips from Cheerz