One of the best things about being a submarine spouse is that I have made amazing friends. The friends I have made at different duty stations have gotten me through deployments, schedule changes, and PCSing. They have come to the pier to take photos and celebrate with me when my husband came home from deployment. You become so close to these friends – especially when you are stationed far from home – that it becomes so hard to say “see you later” when it’s time to PCS.
Over the years, I’ve had to get creative with how I stay close to my friends. I haven’t seen some of my closest friends in years. But I still consider them to be among my closest friends because we talk so often and find creative ways to stay close. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorite ways to stay close to your long distance BFFs.
Start a Virtual Book Club
Some of my friends and I started a virtual book club. We live all over the country, but we make this happen every month. We vote on a book each month and on a date to talk about it. It’s okay if not everyone can always come, but we always meet with whoever is available. We spend a few minutes catching up on each other’s lives and then we talk about the book. It’s such a fun way to keep our passion for books alive and it ensures that we get to video chat once a month.
If book clubs aren’t you thing, you could do any type of virtual club! You could have a wine club where you all drink the same kind of wine, a game club where you play online games together, or a TV club where you talk about your favorite show. You could each order take out from your favorite restaurants and have dinner together. You really can get creative and adapt some of the things you used to do together virtually.
Have a Monthly Video Chat
Or you could just decide to chat and catch up on each other’s lives. Pick a standing date – like the second Tuesday of every month. If you keep it simple, it will be easy for everyone to remember, schedule, and make time for.
Watch the Same TV Show Together
By using Netflix Party, you can make sure you and your friends are watching a movie or show together at the exact same time. You can also chat during the show. Make some popcorn and it’s almost as good as being there together. You could watch a movie together or set up a weekly time to watch a TV show together – there are so many on Netflix! It is a fun way to connect every week, even if just for a half hour.
Start a Group Text or Social Media Chat
For different groups of friends, we keep fun group chats going. I also make a point to text my friends individually just to see how they are doing. Send a funny meme that made you think of them, ask them how their day is going, or just tell them something funny that happened to you. I think that a lot of us are used to just posting that stuff on social media. And social media is an amazing way to keep in touch with friends! But sometimes it’s nice to text someone individually.
Have a Secret Santa… Any Time of the Year
Some of my friends and I do an annual virtual Secret Santa. We set a limit of about $25, draw names through Elfster so that no one knows who has who, and then we set aside a time to open all of the gifts together. Of course, we wear our Christmas pajamas and drink hot chocolate. During the pandemic, we were all needing a little bit of a pick me up, so we did a Secret Gift Exchange in July. We used Elfster again to draw names, sent each other small, fun gifts, and opened them all together. You really could do this any time of year!
Send Snail Mail
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to send someone snail mail. I love to stock up on cards and then just send them to my friends whenever I am thinking of them. I think it’s such a fun surprise to get a card or letter in the mail. And sometimes, if I see something that reminds me of my friend, or know a friend is having a bday day, I’ll send her a small care package or order her something from Amazon. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to brighten someone’s day and let them know you’re thinking about them.
Celebrate Each Other Virtually
When one of my friends was having a baby, we threw her a virtual baby shower. We kept it simple and to just our small group. We had her husband pick up a cake for her, sent her a banner to hang up, and had her open presents on our video chat. It was so much fun and it felt like a great way to show her how important she is to us even though we could not be together in person.
Have Your Own “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”
A lot of my friends and I love to read, so sometimes we will send each other books after we read them if we think the other person will love it.It’s very inexpensive to send books in the mail if you use media mail. It’s a fun way to connect with each other because we will often chat about the book once we’ve both read the book. You could do this with movies, clothes, books, baby stuff – anything really.
Meet in the Middle
Do you have a friend within driving distance? If you have a friend who is even eight hours away, you could each drive four hours and meet in the middle. When I was stationed in DC, I had another friend stationed in Charlottesville, VA. We would find places to meet that were about halfway between us. We would each drive for about an hour and a half, meet for lunch, walk around, and then drive home. It was so special to have her so close by and to take those day trips to see her.
And one time, we organized a three-way lunch date between a friend who lived in Norfolk, my friend in Charlottesville, and me in DC. I was pretty proud of that one!
Take a Girls Trip
We haven’t been able to make this happen in a while because of COVID, but pre-pandemic a few of us got together at a friend’s house for a weekend. We just talked, ate food, and explored her new duty station. Whenever things get back to normal, my friends and I plan to have another girls trip. You could stay at someone’s house or go to an airbnb. It doesn’t have to be a fancy trip. It doesn’t matter where you go – it’s about being with the people you love.
Do you have any more suggestions for keeping in touch with long distance friends? We’d love to hear them!