How to Manage Long Distance Friendships in College

If you follow me on any social media, you probably saw that I got the greatest surprise ever last Friday – my friends from HOME surprised me by driving all the way up to NEW YORK to spend the day with me.

Pretty epic, right? I was feeling really bummed that they were all on Spring Break together without me, and before I knew it they showed up on my campus! They planned the surprise with my friends at school, and it left me feeling like a mushy pile of love and thankfulness.

Friendship is the greatest gift to have – but it isn’t always easy to maintain it, especially when you’re miles away AND you’re juggling being a busy college student at the same time. So with the given events, I knew a post like this was necessary. Here’s what you need to know about managing long distance friendships in college.

Long distance friendship

Let me preface this by telling you a story. I feel #blessed to have quite a few  fantastic friend groups, both at home and at school. The number of friends you have doesn’t matter, but what’s important is having a good quality relationship with all of your friends. I remember during my senior year of high school, some alumni came back to speak in a panel about college, and one person said, “When you get to college, you’ll lose contact with your friends from home. It’s just not really possible to keep your friendships from home.”

Like…what? I don’t know about you, but I don’t take friendship lightly. If we’re going to be friends, we’re gonna stick it out to the end (like Rihanna said, ya know?). I’m by no means a perfect friend, BUT I believe it is possible to maintain a great friendship no matter the number of miles that separate you. This is what I’ve learned so far when it comes to managing long distance friendships:

Actually make time to talk to your friends

This is pretty self explanatory. Of course you need to make time to talk…but when I say “make time,” I literally mean clear your schedule to devote to a Skype sesh. Write your plans into your planner and do your best to ensure that ~nothing~ will interfere with it. The first step to making a long-distance friendship work is putting in the effort to actually make it work.

Be flexible with your plans

BUT, it’s important to remember that everyone is human, and unexpected things can pop up. Last minute study sessions take precedence over a phone call. Life happens, and it’s important to understand that some circumstances mean sacrificing your plans. Your true friends will understand that, and they’ll be waiting for you when you do have time to catch up with them.

Make the most out of your social media

Take advantage of Snapchat DMs and Instagram Story messages! ~Story time~: my friend Jackie lives in California (a perfect example of a long distance friendship!) and since we’re both busy doing all the things, we don’t always have time to call each other (though I wish we did! Miss ya, Jackie 💕).

So happy she found her way back to the East Coast again (even if it's only for a few days) 💘

A post shared by Sarah Hanlon (@sarahhanlon_) on

But social media comes in clutch for us – I’ll send her a DM when I see her doing something amazing, and vise versa. Take advantage of your ability to connect instantly. Even though a like or a Tweet isn’t a full-blown catch up session, it’s a nice reminder that your friend is still thinking of you.

Let your friends know you appreciate them

Never underestimate the power of a text that says something like “I miss you and I’m so happy you’re one of my best friends.” I have group chats where someone sends a message like this on a weekly basis, and it’s PERF. Life gets busy, but sending your friends a reminder that you’re grateful for their friendship is ALWAYS worth it.

Remember that friendship is a two-way street

Friendship is a relationship that only works if both ends put forth an effort to maintain it. Remember that your friends are busy, but don’t be afraid to point out their lack of communication if they seem oddly distant. Maybe they’re going through a rough time (which is when an “I’m grateful for you” text is appropriate!) or maybe it’s time to reevaluate your inner circle. No one’s got time to waste on a toxic relationship. IF it would get to this point, don’t be afraid to make necessary cuts from your friend group. BUT, if this person is truly a close friend, make time to talk it out and make things right again! The best friendships are the ones where both ends put forth a mutual effort because you genuinely enjoy having the other person as a friend.

If necessary, take extreme measures!

When in doubt, go all out. Surprise visits, for example, are by no means necessary, BUT they are pretty fantastic. Nothing says “I love our friendship” like surprising your bff at school, at home, at work, etc. My friends did that for me last weekend, and my friend Sami and I did this for our friend Amanda a few years ago (see the Insta video below 👇🏻).

@sami_wiik10 and I are basically the best 💁 @uh_man_duh_harris

A post shared by Sarah Hanlon (@sarahhanlon_) on

Surprises are exciting on both ends – and they’re so worth it. You can also just devote an entire day to spending time with them- doing your favorite things, catching up, and taking  hella cute Instagrams. Your friends are worth your time and energy – so don’t be afraid to make it extravagant!

What have you learned about maintaining long distance friendships? I’d love to hear! Let me know in the comments below.

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