Part 2: Personal Relationships

As our world becomes more and more digital, in many ways, it also becomes smaller. More than ever, we’re able to do business, and maintain personal relationships, over long distances. But while there are benefits to this ability to connect virtually, we also lose something. We lose a feeling of community and the connection that comes through sharing space with other people. There are some things that, no matter how connected we can remain online, we are really hard to replicate.

This is the second post in our two-part series on how we can do a better job of nurturing relationships over long distances. This post focuses on how to support long-distance personal relationships, but not just romantic relationships. If you’re interested in reading part one, about nurturing professional relationships, you can find it here.

Photo Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection (license)

Keeping in touch with family and friends who don’t live nearby can be difficult. And even if you still live on the street where you grew up, chances are someone from your life has moved away. High school pals leave for college, siblings move away to get married, friends move for job opportunities, and some people move just because they need a change. And, of course, there is the much-maligned long-distance romantic relationship. As two people are trying to build a life together, occasionally that might require them to live far away from one another. College, work, family or other factors could require one person to move and the other to stay put.

But does it have to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Or can it be ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? Realistically, it’s a little bit of both, but how can we get more of that fonder heart into the mix? Here are a few tips on staying in touch with family, friends and romantic partners, even if there is a lot of distance to overcome.

Long-Distance Family

Living far away from family can be really challenging. Missing out on the love and support that family provide is a real loss. But, family is family and you can be there for each other, even if you’re not there for each other. Here's how:

  1. Video Calls. FaceTime, Skype or other video calls are a great way for families to stay in touch over long distances. In particular, video calls between the grandkids and grandparents are an amazing way for grandparents to get to watch their grandkids grow up. But video calls are also a great way for family members of any age to interact in a more immediate and personal way than exchanging texts or emails.
  2. Brief Updates. Chances are good that your family already knows you pretty well. They are aware of the broad strokes of what is happening in your life. But brief updates covering the non-essentials, like a photo of something funny you saw on your way to work, or a text about a book you read and think they might like, add to your connection. It also can be easier to send occasional quick updates, rather than longer emails or letter, which can feel daunting.
  3. Care Packages. Especially if you’re a parent living far away from your grown-up (or grown-ish, as the case may be) children, a care package can be a fun and funny way to stay in touch. Pack it full of their favorite things they can’t get where they live, things that will remind them of home, and, just for fun, include a few things that will make them go, “Why?!”

The Long-Distance Friend

The long-distance friend is probably the most precarious of long-distance relationships, especially if you have long-distance family and long-distance romantic relationships to maintain. So, how can you make sure these relationships get the nurturing they need to stay strong?

  1. Plan a Weekend Reunion. Depending on where you both live, a reunion at one of your homes can be cheaper, because no one has to pay for a hotel. But, if you have the cash, try meeting up somewhere in the middle and combine seeing your bestie with a fun vacation.
  2. Send a Gift. Obviously, remember their birthday and Christmas, but also a fun ‘just because’ gift is a great way to let them know that you are thinking of them. Sending a gift with EvaBot is a fun way to make sure they will get something they love.
  3. Group Chat. If you’ve got a group of friends that are scattered to the far corners of the globe, a group text or chat in a messaging app can be a great way for all of you to stay connected, plan trips together and just generally stay up-to-date on each other’s lives.

The Long Distance Romance

Plane tickets, hours long phone calls, carry-on luggage, and constant predictions of failure: all hallmarks of a long-distance relationship. Even so, long distance relationships are on the rise. But just because they are more common doesn’t mean they are suddenly easy. Here are some ways you can keep the relationships strong:

  1. Go to the Movies Together. I’m not talking about buying a plane ticket just to go watch a movie together. Instead, coordinate going to see the same movie at the same time and then have a video chat when you get home, so you can talk about it while it’s still fresh. To take it a step further, start up a video call and binge a TV show together. It won’t be exactly like going to the movies together, but it will be close.
  2. Send Handwritten Letters. Email is fast and convenient. But handwritten letters are romantic. And if you’re concerned about how long it might take handwritten letters to arrive, consider writing a batch of ‘open when’ letters. Letters might say, “Open when you need a laugh,” or “Open on the anniversary of our first date,” or “Open after work on a particularly difficult Monday.” This way there is a handwritten note that responds to your life. These are especially nice for military families who may not be able to reach each other immediately for support for seemingly minor things.
  3. Schedule Time to Talk. Have regularly scheduled time to talk, and treat it like an appointment that you can’t break. When you prioritize your time together and your relationship, it has a better chance of succeeding.

Bottom Line:

Keeping personal relationships strong when there is a lot of distance between you can be difficult. But there are ways to make it easier, and some of them are even fun!