An ode to long-distance friendships

There is so much literature at the moment about surviving long-distance romantic relationships throughout the pandemic. How to have zoom dates, how to keep the romance alive and all that jazz. But have we forgotten another form of long-distance relationships? What about friendships?

Currently living on the opposite side of the English Channel from my friends, I know first-hand what it’s like to be far from your loved ones. More than date nights and big parties, I miss brunches, coffee outings and sleepovers with my best pals. Having starting university over 2 years ago, my best friend from home and I got quite used to being apart for long periods of time. Of course, it wasn’t easy especially at first but you learn and develop as a result. Switching from spending every waking hour together at school to seeing each other once every two months was never going to be a simple switch, but we’ve learnt how to do this. About respecting boundaries, about self-growth, about love – we’ve grown as people, and our friendship is inordinately stronger for it. I’ve come to treasure our ridiculous 3-hour FaceTime sessions, wonderful weekends away and especially the little things. The random text updates, the photos we send each other of silly things and, of course, the relentless tagging in Facebook memes. For sure, the hallmark of a modern best friendship.

And as for my Durham friends, who are normally less than a 10-minute walk away at all time, always ready for a coffee at Flat White; being finalists is hard. Add a time difference and a hectic year abroad, and it’s difficult to find time to talk together. We’ve all really committed to online socialising, but I’m not sure if I can take one more online game social. Here’s my advice to those of you growing bored of zoom quizzes and time-lagged catch-ups – create a quiz about you. Instead of attempting to guess the answers to bizarre general knowledge questions, take the lead of my best friend and question each other on funny stories, embarrassing events and even secrets. Far, far more enjoyable than discussing the height of Mount Everest, or the population of Honduras.

I think the other thing about adult friendships is the depth and quality of them. Rather than having large packs of ‘best’ friends, I have a small but solid group of people upon whom I can rely for anything. Regardless of the time difference and distance, knowing you can pick up the phone and call them at any time remains a paramount factor in maintaining long-distance friendships. The switch from loyalty to pure, unadulterated trust in your friends is essential. Sure, we can no longer pop round to visit each other. And sure, we may all be busy, not always able to answer the phone immediately. But knowing with complete certainty that they are absolutely there for me, and I for them is pretty much the only way to make the distance work. Doubt is incredibly difficult. I think the only way through it is communication. Lay your cards on the table. Your true friends will always do the same.

To my best friends: I love you, and I miss you. We may not talk every day, and it may be 6 months since I last saw your faces in real life, but the love I have for you is just as strong. I can’t wait for the day we can all be reunited. Until then, consider this my long-distance love letter to you.

 

Image by Erin Waks

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