You’ve missed your soldier. You’ve missed your family. What you may not have expected is that you’d become close friends with other military spouses, only to eventually move in opposite directions. Here’s how to stay connected with your girls around the world.

 When You’re the One Left Behind

While on my first military base, my close friend and her family PCS’d to a different country. She went from being next door, always there, and part of my daily life, to being relocated in an entirely different timezone and felt worlds away. I was completely unprepared for the feelings of loneliness and emptiness that resulted from her absence. Gone were the spontaneous coffee chats, playdates, and long evening walks. I was left behind to reminisce about where we used to go and what we used to do, while she was nowhere in sight. My closest friend and confidant was whisked away and I had to grieve the loss.


When You’re the One to Move

When it was my turn to PCS, I left an absence, a recess, an empty space. I am now the one in an entirely different world and desperately want to stay connected and maintain my friendships with those who were close to me at my last duty station. They often tell me I am missed, and it’s incredibly touching. One sees my empty house without my children playing in the yard. Another wants me to hang out, but remembers I can’t. A third realizes that we’ll never just bump into each other again while out and about.
We are all coming to grips with the fact that our lives are forever changed and that the reason this is so difficult is that we positively  impacted each other’s lives. Gone are the days of old, but the friendship remains. The question we ask now is, how do we keep our friendships going?

Stay BFFs With These 10 Steps

As with every great relationship, it requires time and work. Put in the effort and reap the benefits.
  1. Don’t wait too long. Moving is tough, but don’t go too long without communications. Even if it’s just a quick message, let your friend know that she is on your mind.
  2. Share your voice and face. Go beyond typing and reading words on a screen. Make a point to have phone calls or video chats through Facebook, Google, Facetime or Skype. 
  3. Plan dates. Pick a day and time to chat, so that you aren’t waiting around or missing opportunities. Consider a theme such as coffee or wine and both have beverages. Schedule it on your calendar and be sure to keep the date. 
  4. Show her your new life. If you have moved to a new place, she can’t visualize your surroundings. Share photos of your new home and favorite spots you are visiting. Create a personalized hashtag so that your photos are in the same place. For example #JackieAndShandiBFF.
  5. Send mail. Going old school is worth its weight in gold. Tangible items such as cards, postcards, hand-written letters or even — gasp — printed photographs, can be a welcome sight for a lonely friend. 
  6. Remember important dates. Contact her on her birthday and if you send holiday cards each year, add her to your list.
  7. Give gifts. My girlfriend and I have matching coffee mugs with our photo on them. We regularly sip coffee and share selfies to let the other know she’s on our mind.
  8. Plan visits. If possible, arrange a girls’ getaway. You go to her, she goes to you, or you meet in the middle. Time to make new memories!
  9. Have realistic expectations. Your friendship won’t look or feel the same as it did when you could see each other every week (or every day for that matter). Schedules may not line up and some time may pass between communications, stay flexible yet consistent.
  10. Remain positive. Support each other as your relationship transitions from face-to-face to long-distance, and encourage her to meet others and not wallow in the sorrow of what once was. 

A New Chapter

There are a few things you should prepare yourself for. It’s natural to feel sad that the relationship has been “downgraded” to long distance. Eventually, you may see your friend developing new friendships and feel a bit envious — it’s completely normal. Be honest with yourself and each other and understand that if you make it a point to stay in touch, your relationship can find a new normal and flourish. 
Don’t fret — you may be fortunate enough to be stationed near each other again, or can plan annual visits. Military moves are tough, but don’t have to mark the end of your friendships. Keep them close, even if they are miles away.
Jackie Toops Head ShotA self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops chronicles her experiences in Europe through American eyes. Born in Florida and stationed in Germany, the mother of two enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Currently she is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and a recurring on-air guest with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen traversing Europe with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.



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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

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