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    7 Things I've Learned About Long-Distance Friendship Over 10 Years

    Showing up for someone doesn't mean you need to get on a plane.

    1. Showing up for someone doesn't mean you need to get on a plane.

    Flo Perry/ BuzzFeed

    Over the past ten years, my close friendship group from uni has included five countries and numerous address changes. We've gone through relationship changes, health scares, and career moves – and listen, maintaining a long-distance friendship is hard!

    What I've learned is that you don't need to physically be in the same room, city, or country to support your friends. You can support from any distance, and technology makes it so much easier to live a parallel life to a long-distance friendship.

    But just like any long-distance relationship, both sides need to put in the legwork for things to work out. I think this article is a good place to start – the tips will definitely vary from friendship group to friendship group, and from person to person (for example, I always have and will be awful at remembering birthdays!). Find what works for you.

    2. Learn about how your friends express affection.

    Adrian Rosales

    Some things are hard to communicate over the phone, or over bites of scrambled eggs during grabbed brunches – for example, how do you say to your friends who you haven't seen in months: "By the way guys, I like to show affection through gifts, so when I'm missing you, I'll send you a book on Amazon." (I mean, if you're this emotionally articulate, congrats, I definitely am not.)

    This lack of natural conversation points mean that sometimes things can come to a head. I'm planning a wedding at the moment, and my friends have been asking how they can help with the planning. I'm an organised person, and said "nothing, just take a look at these bridesmaids dresses". I then went on to burn out over a combination of work stuff, wedding stuff and personal stuff – culminating in a series of tearful Whats App messages.

    But what I realise now is what they were *actually* asking was "I want to be there for you, how can I do that for you?" If they had known that I register gifts (or a letter! or a postcard!) as a token of affection, I would have received some flowers in the post the next day, with a note saying to look after myself. Or if I had known what to listen for, I would have said "tbh I'm pretty overwhelmed, and I just need to vent a bit."

    3. Nobody is expecting you to keep a dossier on their life.

    Loryn Brantz / BuzzFeed

    There's going to be things that your friends do that you don't know about – whether that's a gluten allergy that takes you by surprise, or a new fitness craze, or even a new partner that you haven't met yet. It's a tricky line between staying in the loop on your friend's life, and accepting that some things will just pass you by.

    It's totally fine to say "hey, this James person you keep talking about – is that the same James from work that you walked in on in the toilet last week?" Or, "sorry, remind me where you're going on holiday again this year?" The things that would be re-inforced by day to day conversation can escape you in group chat. Just be upfront about what's passed you by, and don't take it personally if they can't remember minor details about your life too.

    4. It's OK to keep some rituals.

    Copyright Julia Scheele

    I treasure our Christmas traditions – no matter where everyone is, we get together for Friendsmas, the greatest day of the year. There's a budget per gift (normally around £10), and everyone gets a variant on the same thing (for example, I might choose "cookbooks" as a theme, and get everyone a different cookbook). Swapping is encouraged, and the actually date is a movable feast – we've even had Friendsmas in January. What's non-negotiable is that there must be pizza involved. Some things are sacred.

    I've also started a little tradition of commissioning a group portrait – recently I asked comic-book artist Julia Scheele to draw our group portrait. I gave a print to each member of my friend group, and it hangs in my hallway. I love seeing my friends smiling down at me when I'm going to the kitchen to get my coffee in the morning. If your funds don't stretch to this, then print out some group pics and frame them! Surround yourself with physical reminders of the people you love.

    5. Try not to get jealous.

    Loryn Brantz/ BuzzFeed

    Don't compare your relationship to anyone else's. You might see Instagram posts about "celebrating 10 years with my long-distance bestie", or learn about group holidays other friendship groups are organising. You know what works best for you guys – and there's nothing stopping you from trying something new! We went on our first group holiday since uni last year, and even though I was nervous about how it was going to work out, it was the best fun I've had in a long time.

    6. Don't live in the past, but it's okay to relive old memories too.

    Maritsa Patrinos/ BuzzFeed

    When you haven't seen your friends in a while, it can sometimes be comforting to fall back on old topics of conversation, or to reminisce about times when you both lived in the same city. And that's fun! But you must move forward too – just because you don't share a location, there are reasons you're still friends! Try and relax, and trust that they care about you as a person, no matter where you're living.

    7. Don't fear a relationship changing.

    Jemima Skelley/ BuzzFeed

    Just like any friendship, your relationship might change over time. You might meet a long-distance friend in their new home, and realise that instead of bonding over bad TV and boys, you're instead talking about how to look after a family member, or discussing the best ways to house-train a puppy. Or it could be the other way around – you might have had a very adult relationship when you lived in the same city, and now it's more focused on pop-cultural moments. Let that relationship shift and settle – don't try and train it in one direction.

    Change is good, and welcome. Think of your friendship as a solid foundation, like a mountain – snow will come and coat it, the snow will melt and grass will come through, but the mountain stays the same: un-moving, stable, and constant.

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