How to Stay in Touch With Long-Distance Friends as an Introvert

An introvert writing a letter

As an introvert, I’m always carrying my loved ones in my heart, even if I don’t have the social energy to talk with them.

The summer after I finished college, I went abroad for the first time. Craving a sample of life in a different culture, I decided to become an au pair, found a host family I clicked with, and packed my bags for a season in small-town Spain.

Life was different in this small town — for example, people seemed much more rooted in place than they did at home in the U.S. This town was where they grew up, made lifelong friends, started families of their own. Suffice it to say, with this extensive support system of relatives, long-time neighbors, and lifelong friends all within a 20-minute radius, I was rarely on my own caring for the kids.

As I appreciated these close-knit ties (as best I could in my subpar Spanish), I thought about what it would be like to return home. Despite my introverted desires to keep a small circle close, I knew it was impossible to recreate this proximity in my own life, my own culture. 

You can thrive as an introvert or a sensitive person in a loud world. Subscribe to our email newsletter. Once a week, you’ll get empowering tips and insights. Click here to subscribe.

Staying Close When Far Apart

Within the past year, my parents moved to a new state and my brother moved to another. In addition, my other recently graduated friends were spreading out across the country for grad school or new jobs. 

A Gallup study found that about 25 percent of U.S. adults reported moving within the country in the past five years, compared to a worldwide average of 8 percent.

Mobility in the U.S. can be a blessing of options and adventures — and particularly for introverts who often struggle to make new friends and are not the best at staying in touch — a curse of isolation and long-distance. When you rely on a small handful of long-term friends, rebuilding whenever they (or you) move away is exhausting. Plus, could we ever really replace the people who knew us as awkward high schoolers or wide-eyed 20-year-olds? 

When I got back from Spain, I was determined to keep my small circle metaphorically close, even as one after another relocated. But, like most introverts, numerous, spontaneous phone calls aren’t really my thing. And text messages only go so far. Here are a few additions, some meaningful, introvert-friendly ways I’ve kept up with long-distance friends in between visits. 

4 Ways to Stay in Touch With Long-Distance Friends as an Introvert

1. Write letters.

When I moved cities for college, I started to lose touch with one of my closest childhood friends. On top of the distance, she was experiencing health issues and intense social anxiety that made it difficult to keep up with relationships or meet up in person.    

One day, I got a text from her asking if I’d like to write letters back and forth to stay in touch. It was the perfect medium, allowing us to open up to each other more than we would in a text or even a phone call — a type of self-disclosure experts say is invaluable in maintaining friendships

Of course, social anxiety and introversion aren’t the same thing, but both can make social activities draining, even for someone who cares deeply about their friendships. Written communication is one way to share your life when your social battery is low. 

I loved sending and receiving letters so much I started doing it with other people in my life. For my mom’s birthday, I mailed her a “letter-writing kit” — a box filled with stationary, envelopes, stamps, and nice pens — to get the ball rolling. In my own “letter writing box,” I store all the letters I’ve received, alongside my supplies. If I’m missing my long-distance friends and family, or need a mood boost, I make a cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and read through my letter collection. 

2. Share playlists.

When I moved an hour away from my hometown for college, a good high school friend and I would drive back and forth to visit each other on weekends. We always listened to the same George Ezra and Mika albums as we barrelled toward one another, and would later discuss our favorite songs. Even if I haven’t talked to that friend in a while, I can’t listen to George Ezra or Mika without thinking about them.

Eventually, this music-based bond developed into making playlists for the other person to listen to. It gives us an easy reason to stay in touch, a source of new songs and artists, and an introvert-friendly way to feel connected even when we haven’t talked in a while. 

Music’s ability to carry emotion and memories makes it a natural cohesive for people. Researchers have found that musical reactivity — how much one is affected by listening to certain music — is tied to group processes, like developing a sense of belonging or positive associations with other group members. It helps us affiliate with others. 

If I want to feel connected to my friend, but am not up for another phone call at the moment, I’ll put on the last playlist they sent me. And finding and listening to those playlist songs can all be done during a classic introvert recharge — while going for a walk, making a cup of tea, or just hanging out in your room alone. 

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

3. Host a virtual book (or other media) club.

When we can physically be with someone, one of the easiest ways to enjoy plenty of bonding time as an introvert is to share a hobby or an activity. Whether it’s going to yoga or running together, cooking a shared meal, or reading beside each other on the couch, this can let us quiet folks keep basking in each other’s company even if we’re talked out. 

When loved ones move, I miss this quiet company-without-conversation the most. 

The closest virtual substitute I’ve found for activity-sharing is having a media club. Just pick a book, movie, album, etc. to consume, either together or separately, and then open up that Zoom room to overanalyze it! 

Reading, in particular, can be a healthy, nourishing habit for introverts. My virtual book club not only reminds me to read, but helps me keep in touch with some high school friends. 

Plus, anything scheduled (for example, monthly video calls to discuss the show or album you and your pals just finished) makes it easier to maintain friendships. In an NPR podcast, friendship expert Marisa G. Franco suggested finding an “anchor,” a common interest that reminds you and a friend to reach out to each other. That anchor could be anything you have in common. But if it’s an introvert-friendly activity, like reading or watching movies, even better! 

4. Send surprise gifts.

As an introvert, I’m always carrying my loved ones in my heart and mind, even if I don’t have the social energy to talk with all of them in a given day or week. What communicates “I’m thinking about you” like a package arriving on a random Wednesday afternoon with an unexpected gift? 

Thrift shopping can be a fun self-date when I need some alone time. If you also enjoy shopping, just keep an eye out for anything that reminds you of a friend or family member. Send it randomly with a “this made me think of you” note, or save it for the next special occasion, which can be hard to celebrate from afar. 

A gift doesn’t haven’t to be pricey or objectively valuable to mean a lot to its recipient either. I’m not remotely crafty, but some of my most well-received gifts were made with my own two hands (and lots of Wite-Out, tape, failed attempts, etc.), such as a jar of “things I love about you” notes for my partner and a handmade collage-card for my mom. 

According to research that examined 12 studies about gift-giving, “gift givers overestimate how much a recipient’s liking of their gift increases or decreases when it compares favorably or unfavorably to other gifts. This is driven by the giver’s incorrect assumption that recipients appreciate the value of a gift over its thoughtfulness.” 

I know you’re an introvert, but don’t overthink it! Anything that shows the other person you’re thinking of them will likely spark gratitude and delight. 

For Introverts, There Is No Right Way to Stay in Touch

I hope some of the ideas on this list work for you. But what’s most important is that you let go of any perceived “rules” about the “right” way to socialize or stay in touch — and find what works for your own, wonderful, introverted self

In a culture where relocating is common, it’s easy to lose touch with old friends or end up feeling isolated. For introverts, who often prize the stable, comfortable friendships we’ve developed over years above socializing with lots of new people, this can be particularly difficult. 

There’s nothing wrong with a simple phone call, text, or email; I use these wonderful allowances of modern technology often. But I’ve found mixing in some more creative alternatives has made my quest to hold onto a few lifelong friends both more fun and more successful.

Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear how you keep in touch with long-distance friends, too. Feel free to comment below!

You might like:

This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.