Recently, my three closest friends came to Los Angeles for a surprise visit, orchestrated by my very sneaky husband. It was such a fantastic surprise because it had been more than two years since the four of us had spent time together in the same place. I couldn’t believe we were reunited!
Although we live in different parts of the country, come from different racial and economic backgrounds, and hold different political opinions, years ago fate brought us together in a small suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. The four of us embrace our differences and know that because of our diversity, we have expanded our individual worldviews and evolved into the loving, compassionate women we are today.
Ultimately, we know that despite our differences, we are very much alike.
When we were younger, we would dream of growing up and living together. We would go to the same college, live in the same house, and spend our lives together in the same place. Life had other plans, however, and we are now spread across the country, doing different things and living totally different lives. As you guys know, I’m in California, married with two kiddos, and transitioning into a full-time blogger and entrepreneur. (Real estate, I’ve discovered, is another passion of mine.) One of my friends is a nurse in South Carolina, while another is wrapping up her final year as president of UNC Law School; the fourth member of our core group is the dean at a charter school in Brooklyn, New York. I’m so proud of us all, and can’t believe the things we’ve accomplished!
People often ask me how I’ve managed to stay friends with my bestie for over 15 years, and the rest of the A-Team for nearly a decade (wow, we’re getting old). It’s no secret that some girls have a hard time making female friends. In Roxane Gaye’s New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist (one of my recent favorites), the author has a chapter titled “How to Be Friends with Another Woman.” She lays out 13 guidelines on making friends with other women but sums it up very nicely in the chapter introduction:
“Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to SLOW women down.”
I encourage everyone to read this book, even if you don’t identify as a feminist! It’s rich with insights into gender and sexuality, race and entertainment, and also politics!
Anyway, while my besties were in town, we had a chance to get away and really connect with one another. We went to Malibu State Park and found a great place to picnic off the beaten path. Before long, we found ourselves reflecting, catching up, and counting our blessings!
Among other things, we hypothesized on what, after all these years, has held us all together. We came up with a list of five things that are key to maintaining long-distance friendships:
One of the easiest ways to maintain long-distance friendships is to stay connected, no matter the physical distance separating you and your besties. Thanks to the internet and other technological advancements, it’s easy to accomplish this! For my friends and me, our group chat gives us easy access to four-way communication, and we use it to share jokes, news, memes, screenshots, outfit ideas — you name it! I really enjoy talking to my friends via group chat because you can hear their voices through the words they write, and they always manage to make me laugh. We also FaceTime, and use Skype for conference video chats!
Be There for One Another
The best way to show someone you care is to be there for them, especially for milestones and other important events like birthdays, graduations, childbirths, deaths in the family, promotions, breakups, new relationships, and so much more. My friends and I go out of our way to be there for one another; and trust me, given how busy we are, and what with the cost of traveling, it’s not easy! Even when we can’t physically be there, we’re always around in spirit!
Make Memories Together
When you have the opportunity to get together, be intentional and try your best to stay present. After all, you never know the next time you and your dear friends will be together, so you’ll want to make the most of your reunion. Try new things together, be silly, let loose, take lots of photos, and most importantly, create lasting memories!
Avoid Petty Arguments
This is crucial to all relationships! When you can, avoid unnecessary drama. Losing your best friends over the small things isn’t worth it. When an issue comes up, ask yourself whether it will still matter in a few years, or even after 10 years. In most cases, you’ll drop it and go back to being besties. Give your friends the benefit of the doubt, and realize that all human beings are flawed. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes from time to time.
Remember the Golden Rule
Finally, living apart comes the possibility of making new friends. I learned a song in elementary school that made an impression on me and still does today. It’s simple: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. The meaning is that it’s okay to make new friends — new friendships are a healthy part of life and growth. Just don’t forget who you are and where you come from as you move forward on your path. Personally, I love introducing my new friends to my old friends. In fact, more often than not, they all end up being friends with one another, which makes my life that much more lit!
Keep these items in mind when you’re dealing with your friends, and I promise things will work out just fine. My friends help me balance out my hectic family and business lives. It’s always good to chat with friends when you need to take your mind off things, or when you need someone to lean on. Life’s too short to make war with one another, so be kind, stay positive, and love your friends!
If you have more tips on maintaining your long-distance friendships, I’d love to hear from you. I’m always open to exploring new tips and tricks.