Keeping Your Faraway Friends Close

By Sami E. Turner

Maybe your bestie lives 3,000 miles away in Cali. Maybe your sneaky link transferred to the Quad. Either way, the distance between you doesn’t have to tear your friendship apart. Here are some tips to help distance make the heart grow fonder.

Live life on the edge: be spontaneous!

If you and your friend haven’t talked in a while, and you’re waiting for permission to text them, here it is. Go, text them, I’ll wait. At the end of the day, someone has to reach out first; why can’t it be you?

If you and your friend text more often than you sleep: Break the mold, and text your friend just because you can! Message them when you see something random that reminds you of them, when you’re sad, when you’re hungry. The best time is any time you choose.

Lean into the memes.

You don’t even need words for this one. Why spend hours obsessing over the intricacies of “how r u” versus “how are you?” versus “what’s up?” when you could just shoot your faraway friend a lovingly chosen TikTok and call it a day? Funny videos are your completely free ticket to instant connection. After all, laughter’s the best medicine — why wouldn’t it mend the wounds of distance?

Leverage the (mild) emotional blackmail.

Send them an “I miss you” every once in a while. It may be a tad bit manipulative, but, hey, it’s the truth.

Channel Jane Austen: live that period piece.

In the whirlwind of 10-hour psets and 300-page readings, your schedules may not always line up. But staying in touch doesn’t have to get left on the wayside with some inspiration from days of yore. Write your friend a letter (by text) and let them take a day (or a week) to respond; your friendship isn't worth any less because it’s less immediate.

Plan a vacay (or brunch).

Spring break’s only a few weeks away, and summer’s just a few more weeks after that. Planning a hangout far in advance can itself be a vacation from stress, and it will give you and your friend something to look forward to until you see each other again.

Pop the Harvard bubble: bring in the college talk.

If your friend goes to another university, ask them about it! (The food’s probably better. They will be smug about it.) Academic angst is a universal experience, so make liberal use of it when you’re not sure what else to say.

Move your fun to the big small screen.

Covid-era schooling and socializing was a trial by fire, but at least now you have an arsenal of virtual entertainment. You can spend a night watching movies over FaceTime or Netflix Parties. Or, if you’re too intellectual for that, you can play online board games. Find those virtual niches to make the distance feel that much smaller.

Put them in the GCal.

Long-distance friendships are sometimes easier to maintain when they’re woven into your routine — and color-coded on your GCal — allowing your far-flung friend to stay as much a part of your life as your dhall meal buddies. Scheduled reminders to send a message your friend’s way can help you remember to stay in touch even during busy periods like midterm season (even if that’s every week) and finals week. With the help of a miracle or two, you and your bestie might also be able to align your schedules to talk (over the phone) for an afternoon in the near future.

Remind them that you love them.

It means a lot. I promise.

The key to keeping your spirits up in a long-distance friendship is remembering that it’s okay to give your friend some space. Life gets busy, time grows short, and staying in touch may feel harder than it seems it should. And that’s okay. As long as you keep on picking up the phone, keep on making an effort to stay in touch, your friendship will remain intact and thriving.

FeaturesFlyby BlogFeatures and SeriesValentine's Day

Harvard Today

The latest in your inbox.

Sign Up

Follow Flyby online.