Watching shows like "Friends" makes it easy to imagine you'll go to the same college as your best friend, get an apartment with them afterwards, and live together for years and years before heading out to the suburbs with your new families, who are also conveniently best friends who want to hang out all the time.
Yet the unfortunate reality is that we often pursue different lives than our best friends, living in different cities, states, and sometimes even countries.
People talk all the time about the difficulties of long distance romantic relationships, but long distance relationships between BFFs are just as tough.
A best friend relationship can be just as meaningful and essential as a romantic relationship, if not more.
After all, it's our best friends who know us the best, who've offered their shoulder to cry on after multiple breakups, who can be trusted with that hideous photo of you from New Year's 2011, who offer us the advice we sometimes don't want to hear. Best friends remind us of the past and all the times — good and bad — you've shared, just as much as they help you look to the future, offering support and inspiration as you move forward in your life.
It's hard to be without your best friend by your side — suddenly the person who was always down to meet you for a drink or dissect your every problem until 2 in the morning isn't there anymore.
But a best friend isn't someone you should let go of, no matter the distance.
It's also a widely accepted truth that it's harder to make friends when you get older. People get busier with work and relationships at the same time that opportunities to make new friends become scarcer, which is why it's so important to keep your relationship with your best friend solid.
In fact, studies say people with close friends outlive those without, have less stress, and are less likely to have cardiovascular issues or immune problems. They help ward off depression and dementia.
Staying close with your best friend makes you a happier, healthier person, and makes you better equipped to tackle anything life throws at you.
It's tough being far apart, but here's how to keep the forever in BFF:
Regular phone calls are a necessity.
We're starting to avoid phone calls like the plague — it's just quicker and easier to send out a text — but it's also way more impersonal, so make like Adele and dial your friend.
You don't have to make it a daily phone call, or even a weekly one, but scheduling regular phone dates is an essential part of keeping a friendship strong. Some stories are just way too long and detailed for a text, and you'll miss out on hearing these great stories about your BFF's life without a phone call.
And then there's simply hearing your friend's voice. It might not be the real deal, but it'll make you feel a lot closer than just seeing her words typed out.
Meet in the middle when you can.
Everybody needs a good vacation, which is the prime advantage of having a best friend live far away. You now have an excuse to travel to another place, and of course, a couch to crash on for free while you're there.
Sometimes though, it can be tricky doing all that traveling, which is when you and your friend should plan to meet somewhere in the middle instead. Are they on the West Coast and you're in the east? Plan a trip to Detroit or Kansas City. Do the road trip you've been talking about since freshmen year.
You both get to spend a little less time and money while exploring a totally new place, and best of all, you're doing it with your favorite person.
Use Skype for hangouts.
Sometimes all the phone calls in the world aren't enough to fill that person-shaped hole in your life, and you just want to kick back with your best friend like old times.
Take advantage of technology.
Maybe you guys can't physically be next to each other, but thanks to Skype, you can enjoy your old activities while pretending you're in the same room. One of the easiest things to do together on Skype is watch a movie. Did you both miss "Trainwreck" this summer? Catch up on the Amy Schumer hype together. Maybe you're both huge "Game of Thrones" fans. If so, make plans to watch the show together weekly, so you can properly freak out together when you find out you-know-who died.
Social media helps, too.
One of the best parts of social media is how it allows us to go back and look at our old memories. Unlike a scrapbook or a camera roll, you can instantly remind your friend of how regrettable those bangs she got were, or how great that one Halloween party was, or any other remember-when you can think of.
It's a common practice to get nostalgic and stalk your own Facebook to remind yourself of the good times. Include your BFF in that virtual reminiscing.
Start a book club.
A great activity that doesn't require you to be physically together is starting a book club. Pick a book you're both dying to read each month, and then discuss the parts you loved, the characters you hated, the questions raised for you, the emotions it made you feel.
Not only will it give you yet another thing to bond over, you might be surprised at what you can learn about your friend from these conversations.
Show your appreciation.
The most important thing to do when trying to keep a long distance relationship alive? Make sure they know how much you care.
When something good happens to them — a new job, their birthday, a boyfriend — reach out and show your excitement. When bad times hit, reach out and show support. And when nothing particularly bad or good is happening, reach out still. Knowing that you're there throughout it all is the key to a successful friendship.
A best friend is one of the most important people in your life, so don't forget to prove you know that — even if it is in the form of that embarrassing #TBT Instagram you've been saving