How to Treasure Long-Distance Friendships During the Holidays

Edited and Published by DARLING MAGAZINE

Image via Ashley Turner, Darling Issue No. 2

As I sit down to have my morning coffee and routine bowl of cereal, my closest friends on the East Coast are getting ready to eat lunch. When I am just beginning my day, they are half way through theirs.

I recently moved from Virginia to Oregon, and as the holiday season comes into view, the anticipation of seeing my friends who I left behind months ago continues to grow. The excitement of embracing those I miss most is so overwhelming some days I can hardly bear it.

The long-distance friendships in my life remind me where I came from, who I was and who I am becoming. These long-distance friendships require risk, rhythm and resolve.

When I think about the friendships I left on the other side of the country, I recognize the risk I took in leaving them to become more of who I desire to be. In moving, I had to trust myself and my friends—that our years of laughter, heartache, adventure and challenges—would not only endure, but also remain, and that the understanding we have of each other would return when we connect over the phone or in person.

I took a risk and chose to trust that loving my friends and experiencing years of life together would not be broken by distance. The greatest risk I took was trusting even when I did not know what was ahead.

Finding a rhythm in long-distance friendships has been the hardest part for me. With navigating a three hour time difference, full schedules and being invested and present in the places we are, finding a rhythm in friendships is hard. This is when I have learned to take it day-by-day and find a different rhythm that works for each friendship, rather than a one-size-fits-all rhythm.

For one friendship, we call each other and play phone tag until we reach one another. For another, we text each other to see when and if that person is available. For another, we simply send letters back and forth.

Some weeks, the rhythm carries on harmoniously, and other weeks, it is a complete mess. This is when honesty and directness are important to encourage each other that the friendship is still strong even if the rhythm seems to be off.

Resolve is one of my favorite concepts, and it is something I work hard to implement into every aspect of my life. In long-distance friendships, resolve looks like a firm determination to know and share in the lives of those whom I hold dear.

This is the action part required of long-distance friendships where celebrating, crying and laughing over the phone take place. This is where I put pen to paper to tell a friend about my life and learn about theirs. Resolve is not surrendering my friendships when the risk seems too high and the rhythm seems too off beat. Rather, resolve in long-distance friendship means taking a breath and continuing to show up.

The arrival of the holidays means the waiting to see the friends I cherish most is almost over. The risk, rhythm and resolve of these long-distance friendships is worth it. The distance just makes reconnecting that much more joyful every time.


Do you have close friends who live far away? How do you maintain a genuine relationship despite the distance?