When Your Best Friend Moves Away
Do you have a friend who’s moved? You may be wondering how to nurture your long-distance friendship with your bestie.
As someone who made a big move almost two years ago, I can tell you what a shock to the system it is. Even when the decision to move is considered with fervent prayer. Even when the new location is chosen intentionally. Even when the new town has all kinds of amenities you used to dream about, and the new home is a major upgrade from the little fixer-upper you used to feel overwhelmed to live in.
Personally, when we moved from the Midwest to the South, I was so focused on making sure my boys were okay that it was difficult to even assess my own feelings.
I remember being a complete basket of nerves when they had their first day at their new school. I put on a brave face and proclaimed many words of encouragement at drop-off, but I cried and prayed for them all day after I got home. I don’t think I fully exhaled until they came home after school and told me what a great day they each had.
After I knew the boys were happily plugged into their new school, then I was left to deal with my own feelings.
My Moves, My Nerves
I now had the time and mental capacity to start sorting out my own mess of emotions. I realized how much I missed my friends back home, the ones who really knew me. I missed knowing who I could chat with for a few minutes at school pick-ups and classroom parties.
I was nervous to forge new friendships. And I was grieving my old ones, my familiar ones, desperately.
There truly is a grieving process that comes with moving. You haven’t died, but a part of you has; a part of your life that you will never get back. Memories that will never be recreated.
A friend from church that moved several years before my family even considered such, once described her feelings to me…
“It feels like being homesick, except knowing that I’ll never get to go back.” And it’s so true.
A place that once homed our entire lives, will never be called “home” again.
And in the middle of this glass case of emotion (thank you, Ron Burgundy, for such a quotable line!), it becomes clear that most of the friendships, the very ones you’re grieving for, have already begun to change.
It’s a natural, sucky part of moving.
What a Friend Can Do
So, when I tell you how much your phone call, your text, your “Thinking of You” note in the mailbox means to your friend that’s moved away, HEAR ME ON THIS. Please!
The relationship doesn’t have to end, but it will look different.
You will be far away, but the closeness can remain. It will just require…. I don’t think “more” is the right word… but different. Different effort.
You may be wondering how your friendship can continue to thrive. The following is a list of things I needed from my friends when I moved. Continue reading to find out how to be there for your friend, for the long-haul, while being long-distance.
1. She needs your support.
Support her, even though this stings.
She needs you to ask her how she’s feeling about it. She needs you to share the sadness of what she’s leaving behind, and celebrate the excitement for all things new.
She needs some reassurance that it will be great. That her family will be great. That she will be great. That her fabulousness will transfer with her to her new city.
Everyone may not be on board with this big decision. She needs you to be.
2. She needs you to care about her new life.
Request a virtual tour of her new home. Ask what she loves most about her new area. Cheer her on when she makes a new friend.
Encourage her to try new things and remind her of her talents. It will be a long time before other people notice them.
She will have days when she runs errands and doesn’t recognize a single person. Sometimes she’ll feel freed by this, and other times she’ll feel super lonely.
Remind her when she’s having a bad day that it’s just a bad day, and that it doesn’t mean her move was the wrong choice.
3. She needs to talk to someone that knows her.
She will swing and miss many times as she learns who are her people and who are not.
She will walk into school functions and church events as she tries to wholeheartedly embrace her new surroundings, and feel so alone in these crowded rooms.
She will crack jokes that would have made you pee your pants, but they somehow fall flat on this Linda who clearly doesn’t share her sense of humor. She’ll miss inside jokes and laughing without inhibition and the ease of her old friendships.
And when she finds someone she thinks she can be pals with, she’ll be hopeful. It will be a tremendous blessing.
But it will require lots of effort as they feel each other out. There will be a need for backstories, establishing who they are. It will be a long time before they have their own inside jokes or can look at each other and know what the other is thinking.
She will need to talk to someone who already knows it all. She doesn’t have the energy to give a full history lesson or to worry about being judged when she just needs a quick vent sesh.
You know the things she’s good at, and the things she worries about. You know her heart. You are a comfort to her. Like warm chocolate chip cookies and her favorite movie. You feel like home to her. And she’s missing home so much.
Read Also: Soul Care – Refresh your soul with these tips to get back on track.
4. She needs you to include her.
It’s really weird and totally irrational, but she will feel some unjustified jealousy when she sees you hanging out with friends on social media.
She will, for a brief second, wonder why she wasn’t invited. And then she’ll remember that she couldn’t have been.
She’ll be glad that you have your other friends there, and will hope that they appreciate all the wonderful things about you: how fun you are, and what a good friend you are.
But she still needs you to include her.
Don’t just give her the highlights—include her in the mundane. The things you used to share during those few minutes in the school parking lot before the bell rang and your kids came running out.
She wants to know if your husband got that promotion or your son made the school’s baseball team. Your mom fell on the ice during that winter storm? She wants to know. Tell her.
She still wants you to call and vent to her about the ridiculous fight you had with your sister, or the chaos that is the school drop-off line. Hate your new haircut? Send her pics or it didn’t happen. She wants to agree with you that it’s awful or convince you that it looks great.
Please don’t think, “I’m not going to bother her with this.” “This” is what you’ve built your friendship on.
If “This” goes, then a part of your closeness goes, too. If you don’t have “This”, what do you have?
Share this post on Pinterest with your Bestie:
5. She needs to know she’s not forgotten.
Specifically, when your best friend moves away, she needs to know that YOU have not forgotten her. She’s learning that for so many people, she’s become out of sight and out of mind.
- Send her a random text. “Remember all the times we’d get mad at the ump during the boys’ baseball games, but we were always wrong and the ump in fact knew what he was doing? Good times!” OR “I saw you in the grocery store and got really excited, and then realized it couldn’t have been you. Miss your face!”
- Send snail mail or some of her favorite local goodies for no reason.
- Post a song that reminds you of her on her Facebook wall.
- Schedule a standing coffee or wine date via video chat. Girl time is still possible!
These things go a long way. She needs to know you think of her as often as she thinks of you. That you remember her with the same fondness she remembers you.
If she calls you and you can’t answer—that’s ok! She doesn’t expect you to drop everything for her. She knows life will continue to move after she does. But pretty please, call her back when you can.
6. She needs you to honor your commitments.
If you tell her you’re going to call at a certain time, do it. She knows things come up. Her life is busy too. But if she’s expecting your call, she’ll schedule her hair appointment around it.
She’ll vacuum with her phone in her pocket so she doesn’t miss you.
She knows she can send you that reminder, “Hey, are we still on for our chat today?” But it would feel like reminding someone to wish you a happy birthday, or asking your husband to bring home flowers—— it’s better if they remember themselves, right?
Read Also: Christian Hospitality – Meaningful relationships can form when you open up your home to new friends.
A Move is Not a Friendship’s Death Sentence
Just because your best friend moves away, it doesn’t mean that your friendship has to be over. If she was a good friend locally, then chances are she’ll be a good friend long-distance, too.
She may need some grace as she adjusts. Her mind and schedule will be packed with to-do’s. The newness of everything can be overwhelming. Every place is a new place, and every face is a new face.
But eventually, her new location will start to feel more and more normal. She’ll begin to feel like herself.
And she’ll be forever grateful for her hometown bestie, where a part of her heart will always be.