Group Chat is a weekly series where HuffPost UK writers discuss friendship, diary dilemmas and how to reclaim our social lives in a busy world.
My best friend and I met in secondary school – as seat partners in art class, to be specific. We clicked almost instantly. We’re both sarcastic and, even though she was far more talented at art than I was, we became inseparable. What followed were years of questionable fashion choices, drunken nights out, and a one-off nine-hour Megabus to Paris and back for a fiver. It was a dream.
So you can imagine, three years ago, when she told me she was moving to Hong Kong for work, I felt lost. I questioned how it would change our friendship – and part of me worried we wouldn’t remain as close.
She is the voice of reason, the funniest person I know and the most reliable, non-judgmental friend I have. With an eight hour time difference between us, it would only get harder – right?
Wrong. From the moment she left, we have spoken nearly every day. We’re as close as ever, and she’s the first person I message when I have news to share or rants to have. Despite the distance, there are no filters – we go from moaning about a bad day to pissing ourselves at memes and encouraging each other to buy clothes on ASOS.
But, yes – aside from a handful of times throughout the year – our friendship takes place almost entirely over WhatsApp.
We’ve found ways to make it work over the past three years – and I know I’m not the only one navigating a relationship solely through my phone.
Finding the gaps of time is important – and we’ve now got it down to a T. I know if I text as I’m on my way to work, she’s just finishing her day so we can catch-up. Likewise, if she messages me as I’m getting into bed, it’s the start of her day so I’ll stay up to give her crucial life updates.
I’m thankful there’s a mutual understanding that we can’t always respond straight away. Unlike with my pals in the UK, our conversations are spread out over a few days – which I find to be a constant comfort.
Even from 6,000 miles away, she knows exactly what to say and how to say it when I need her. A few years ago when I had a lot going on at home, I was heading into work everyday pretending everything was fine – then having a cry in the toilets. I remember texting her on the train with an ‘everything is shit’ message, rambling on about all the things going wrong in my life.
She couldn’t drop round for a cup of tea, give me a hug, or go out for emergency wine with me. But she messaged back instantly with encouraging words – knowing exactly what I needed to hear – and made me feel 10 times better just for listening. She gave me advice, stayed online until I felt calm, and kept checking in on me over the following days.
That moment proved to me wherever she lives in the world – and whatever life stage we’re both at – she’ll always be there. She’s just a text away, and there’s something really comforting in that.
I might not be able to see her for months on end, but sometimes I don’t mind too much, because when we do finally meet face-to-face, it’s a huge deal for both of us (and we just pick up where we left off).
Of course I wish she was closer – but also, her being so far away is the perfect excuse to visit Hong Kong every year, so I’m certainly not complaining.