My best friend is the most important person in my life. But I moved away and we're struggling with long distance.

  • My best friend and I have been inseparable since we were 13, but I recently decided to travel.

  • When I moved across the world from Australia to New York, our friendship suffered.

  • An expert says we should prioritize longer conversations while understanding friendships change.

I left my longest, most loving relationship for another love: travel. I planned to go for six months or "as long as it felt right." That was eight years ago, and I'm still in a long-distance relationship — with my best friend.

We met in high school when we were 13 and have been best friends ever since. In over two decades, we've lived together, loved together, traveled together, and grown together. She was the first person I came out to. I was the person who told her she needed to take a break from drinking.

We were always in perfect sync, navigating new chapters with our best friend by our side. That was until I decided to leave Australia to travel the world. I never thought it would be permanent.

My best friendship exists on the strength of shared history. Across the decades, we've shared bad outfits and bad decisions; we experienced the loves, losses, and life stages — side by side. She's been my constant. Our friendship is unbound by law, blood, or borders.

There are, of course, wonderful friends along the journey who are here for a season or a reason, but I've learned there's no replacement for my best friendship that spans decades. It's a little world of its own — with its own language, customs, and commitments.

But we struggled to connect after I left Australia

Before I moved to New York City while hopscotching around the world, we weren't just physically far apart — our daily realities were, too. My life was transient, a constant flow of new faces and places. During those days, it was difficult to connect. We lost a common frame of reference until I settled in one place where my "new" transformed into normal.

These days, we have a "call while driving or walking" ritual. With kids now in the mix, we often swap our scheduled video calls for short catch-ups on the way to work, weekend brunch, birthday parties, and errands.

Early on, I promised to be there for life's big moments without realizing the small moments matter most. I miss being able to drive over to her house for a quick cup of tea and chat, meeting for a walk on a sunny day, celebrating birthdays and work wins, and all the seemingly insignificant moments that make a friendship. On my yearly visit home, I try to compress a year of bonding into a month. It's never enough.

We are still learning to be there for each other in this new phase of our friendship

I reached out to Jennifer Teplin, a licensed clinical social worker at Manhattan Wellness, for advice because I don't want to lose the most important relationship in my life. Teplin said we should aim for longer conversations that are a similar length to meeting a friend in person.

"We naturally go deeper in person because we're with them for longer," she said.

But Teplin also suggated we stay in contact in-between conversations.

"If you see something on the subway, while you're out shopping or on Instagram, circle back to them," Teplin said. "It shows you're thinking about them. Those are nice pebbles to drop along until the next time you have a call."

Current capacity is also important to consider, giving the relationship room to breathe when needed. "Closeness in friendship can weave in and out. There's this natural flow with core close friends that you're going to be riding those waves with," she added.

That contraction and expansion are almost always never personal. As my best friend says, it's just about current capacity.

Some people search their whole lives for the people who feel like home. I found it at 13. I was recently back home for her wedding and met many of my best friend's new friends.

Just as I was hit with a pang of grief that I was no longer the center of her friend circle, one of the girls said: "Oh, you're the best friend from New York! We've heard so much about you."

Read the original article on Business Insider