For many years during and after college, my BFF (let’s call them Charlie) and I lived on different continents. Our relationship was sustained by Facebook messenger, occasional video calls, and even rarer holiday visits, when our credit card points had racked up enough miles.
When those visits finally arrived, we were so pumped to do absolutely everything together for the one to two weeks we had together. But alas, we would just end up arguing, fighting, dashing between tourist spots and constantly stressed out. It wasn’t until we discovered snack breaks for hangry spells, and doing less with the time we had so we could focus on just spending time with each other, that we had the relaxing times together that we both envisioned.
Here is a guide to tackling those sporadic visits with your long distance BFF, and how to maintain the same deep bond when you are apart.
Leave Each Other Messages
It’s 2021 and we all have more than enough stuff to do. You might not have time to pause your life and text your platonic life partner back and forth for an hour, even if they have the funniest story to tell. Instead, treat the text chain between you and your BFF like a cherished historical archive. Drop your life updates, your silly stories, your selfies and dog pics, and your random compliments in the chat. Check the chat on your time. Or if you’ve got a story that just has to be told out loud, leave a voicemail (they’re not just for cringe parents).
I loved getting voicemails from Charlie when we were thousands of miles apart, because they just had to rant about something or other. And frankly, a rant doesn’t necessarily need another person in the conversation anyway. Captured in a lovely little text or voicemail, however, I can listen whenever and plus I’ve got the story saved forever.
This doesn’t mean you don’t make time or effort for each other, and you should definitely still schedule video chats. Just let your long distance communications be and feel as varied and casual as when you live in the same city or even home.
Don’t Sleep on the Big Stuff
Even long distance, even between forever besties, relationships take work.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been annoyed by my BFF, and Charlie can attest to the same on their end. Near or far, all friends fight. Not all fights need to be resolved in person. More critical to resolving the fight is showing that you both care enough to show up and deal with it, and that can happen virtually. So whether it’s a minor squabble or a major transgression, hash it out in the chat. Schedule a video chat and talk it through.
Whatever it is, don’t wait until you see each other in person to talk about it. That can lead to letting things stew, and stewing leads to grudges. And with distance, these can feel all too easy to nurse when the person you’re begrudging isn’t right in front of your face.
But you’re BFFs for a reason, and any true BFFship is strengthened by honest communication.30
One of my more vivid memories of my time visiting Charlie is of us both walking down the street back to their place, absolutely seething in silent rage. When we got back to the apartment, we each downed an entire (literal) box of cereal each. Our usual loud laughter and banter resumed.
And that’s when we started to put it together. We had a lengthy itinerary that day, with lunch but no other food planned. We were hangry.
Trips often involve lots of walking, and trying to cram lots of “Things To Do and See.” Visiting your favorite person, after not seeing them for months or years, is so exciting you want to do all the things you couldn’t do apart. But I guarantee you none of those things is worth the vicious bickering that ensues from depleted calories.
Take a snack break every hour, at least. Prioritize every meal over literally any attraction or recreational activity. You want to go shopping but they want to get a croissant? Run as fast as you can and get them that croissant.
Time constraints from trips to see each other create pressure, which isn’t fun! I remember on my first trip to see Charlie in Japan, I had a mental list of everything we were going to do, which was basically every single thing he had described doing and enjoying in our time apart.
But the trip ultimately isn’t about sightseeing. It’s about you and your BFF enjoying your beautiful friendship. Pick one thing a day, at max, to “do,” and spend the rest of the time relaxing and being the super friends that you are. Go to their favorite food spot and spend hours talking, catching up. See a movie together. Do the things you love to do with each other, not just things for the sake of doing them.
Ultimately, to maintain your long distance BFFship, you just need to show each other that you are thinking of them, that you both remain human with your own needs, and that you want to make an effort for each other. Enjoy your besties!