Choose the traditional route. Writing a letter takes about the same amount of time as writing an email, but it has a different feel. Those of us in our seasoned years remember when postal mail was the only way, other than a phone call, to communicate over a distance. We remember the excitement of opening the mailbox and finding a letter from someone we love and hoped to hear from. In today’s technology-based world, a letter can be a nice change of pace and a special way to show you care.
No reason needed. Sending a “just because” greeting card is a wonderful and considerate way to show how much you care about and miss a long distance friend. There are some really great cards to choose from that cover any sentiment… emotional, thoughtful, inspiring, humorous, etc.
Be prepared in advance. You may want to start picking up cards whenever you see one you like so you’ll always have a few on hand. You can pre-address and stamp the cards ahead of time. When you decide to pop a card in the mail, you can just add a quick note and send it on its way.
Be spontaneous. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving an unexpected package? Especially if it comes from a dear friend. A package delivered to your doorstep makes you feel loved and appreciated. So think about sending your friend a package that has nothing to do with a birthday or holiday.
Keep it simple, but creative. Your surprise package doesn’t have to hold something elaborate or expensive. The fact that you cared enough to send the package will probably mean more to your friend than anything they find hidden inside. You may enjoy filling a package with reminders of your friendship or funny items sure to make your friend chuckle. Use your imagination. Anything goes.
Share all the details. Email is not as personal as a phone call, but can be much more in depth than a text. Sending email allows you to write messages of any length. It also is entertaining to be on the receiving end of a newsy email. Of course, if you have a lot to share or want immediate input, you may want to use the phone.
Take advantage of the freedom. You can send an email message whenever you feel like it. You are never restricted by obstacles like time of day. If you feel like it, you can write an information packed email at 2:00 in the morning when you can’t sleep.
Establish a system. Some friends fall into a pattern when emailing each other. For example, they may send email messages each morning and then respond to the other person’s morning email that evening. That way, questions, answers, and updates can be shared and commented upon on the same day.
Express yourself in real time. Texting on cell/smart phones can help friends stay connected during the everyday moments in each other’s lives. Texting is a good way to send a friend a quick hello or communicate immediately about things you might forget if you waited for the next email or phone call
Send photos/videos. Sharing photos and videos by text can be a lot of fun. And, as the saying goes, a picture can speak louder than words. When you see something interesting, unusual, or humorous take a photo or video with your cell phone and text it to your friend. You may want to share some fun “selfies” (photos you take of yourself) while you are at it. Just hold your phone out in front of you and take the shot. Make a funny face, stand in an attention-grabbing location, or include a family member or friend.
Find your harmony. When it comes to texting, people often fall into three camps… those who never text, those who are obsessed with texting, and those who are somewhere in the middle. Texting between long distance friends usually works out best if both friends are in the same camp and share the same philosophy about when to text, when not to text, and how often to text.
Talk face to face. It may conjure up childhood memories of scenes from Star Trek, but video chatting over your computer or mobile device makes it possible to actually see a person instead of communicating by voice alone. Video chatting utilizes the camera on your computer or mobile device. Just remember… the other person can see you too!
Look for free video chat sources. One of the most unexpected and welcome things about video chatting is that it’s often free. There are video chat websites – like Skype – and apps you can use to visually connect with your friend at no cost. Facebook even offers video chatting.
Give it time. It can take a little time to become comfortable with video chatting, but once you’ve done it a couple times… you may become a big fan. Video chatting is a whole lot easier than it may seem at first. Don’t give up too soon.
Do it your way. Some long distance friends set aside a specific time every day to have a short video chat, as if they were sitting down together in person for a quick cup of coffee. Others prefer spending a longer chunk of time video chatting so they can really catch up with each other’s lives.
Talk, really talk. Friendship is about sharing in the big events and the little things that fill each other’s days. Use your telephone conversations to continue sharing all the same things you have always shared. You may want to jot things down as they happen so you will remember to share them with your friend. You also may want to start a list of questions you want to ask.
Call frequently. It is very easy to let more and more time pass between calls with a long distance friend, but it is important to try not to let it happen. For some people, just picking up the phone to place a call is the most challenging step, especially when life gets hectic. Scheduling calls can help. Make plans to call on a regular basis, like every Tuesday evening or every other Sunday afternoon.
Make cost-free calls. If finances keep you from telephoning your friend, look into the many free calling options available today. For those of us who remember using a rotary phone, the technology out there now is truly amazing. There are a variety of Internet sites, apps, and computer programs that allow you to make free calls on your computer, mobile devices, and cell phones.
Make it last. Call when you are sure you have enough time to really get into things. Phone calls can begin a little slowly even between the best of friends, but they usually gain momentum and depth as the conversation progresses.
Avoid phone tag. Try not to play the never-ending game of telephone tag, where you keep calling each other only to have to try again and again. Whenever possible, answer your friend’s calls, even if it is just to say “I can’t talk right now, but it’s good to hear your voice.” Offer another time that is more convenient for you.
Sign up for the same cell phone service. Many cell phone service providers offer plans that make it easy and affordable for family and friends to stay in touch. Shop around to find the best deal available.
Get ready. If you haven’t had an important friendship interrupted by a change of location, it is sure to happen during your “seasoned” years. People in their later years relocate for many reasons. Of course, many retire and move to some distant place they’ve been dreaming about for decades. Some want to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren. Some move for health reasons.
Whether you are the one who moves or it’s your friend who relocates, it is never easy for close friends to suddenly be miles apart. When you are used to having someone you love and trust nearby, the empty spot they leave behind can seem like a vast and empty hole in your life.
Just like the long distance romances we hear so much about, long distance friendships require some effort if they are going to last. But it is possible. Friends can still laugh together, cry together, confide in each other, and support each other… no matter how many towns, states, countries, oceans, or time zones stand between them.
The bond of friendship is created by being involved in someone’s life, not because of a convenient location. Of course, distance might make you have to work a little harder to maintain the closeness you share. But a special friendship is always worth it!
Here are a few things you can do to maintain a long distance friendship: