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Staying Close With Someone Who's Far Away

Updated on August 30, 2014

In this hustle-and-bustle world, we can’t always be physically close to the ones we love. My three young children were taken by their father and are being held in Yemen, so I try to remain a part of their lives the best I can. For me, staying close is a little harder because the mail service in Yemen is nearly nonexistent, and my kids don’t get on the internet. Here are some ways to foster your faraway relationships.

  • Stay Up-to-Date With Phone Calls

Nothing beats a good conversation to stay up to date on what’s happening in the day-to-day life of your loved one. If you use services like Yahoo Messenger or Skype, you can use their video call function so you can more accurately gauge what they say with their facial expressions. It’s easy to let time slip away between calls, so make it a priority. Set a schedule if you need to, and stick to it.

  • Play Games through the Mail

Stay connected by playing a game where you have to take turns. Play-by-mail games have been around for centuries. Chess is one such game that lends itself to this format. You can draw a chess board on a piece of paper or purchase correspondence chess postcards. You mark your move and mail it. Your partner receives it, marks his/her move and mails it back. You can also play this game by email or by using a free online service at If chess is not your game, there are other games you can play through correspondence, through email, or using free online servers. lists hundreds of games that lend itself to this format.

  • Stay Close with Pictures

The saying “A picture’s worth a thousand words” has merit. Sharing pictures is a wonderful way to stay involved in someone’s life from far away. Instead of just sending photographs, why not get creative? Make a printed book full of pictures and descriptions using services like Shutterfly. Make a photo calendar at any photo processing service. Make useful items like mugs or clocks using your favorite photos at The ideas are endless. For those on the internet, photo sharing is fast and easy with facebook or Flickr.

  • Share Your Videos

Is it snowing beautiful, big white flakes outside? Did you see an amazing rainbow? Do you need to vent and get things off your mind? Make a video! Watching videos make people feel as if they’re in the same room with the videographer, and it’s a great tool for staying close and connected. Videos aren’t just for vacations anymore, so whip out your video recorder and make a video to share with your loved one. Videos can be mailed via disk, SD card, or flash drive, they can be emailed, or they can be shared online (even privately) with youtube or facebook.

  • Share Little Mementos

Did you read a funny cartoon in the paper? Did your daughter make a drawing that touched your heart? Did you see an awesome keychain at your local store? Sending little mementos can brighten someone’s day and make them feel included in your day-to-day life.

  • Play "Instructables Tag"

My children and I love to make things, so we play "Instructables Tag". I find something I want to try making from and make it. If it's small enough, I send it. If not, I send a picture along with a description of my experience. Then they are "tagged" and it's their turn. They find something, make it, and share a picture of their creation. It provides us with entertainment, broadens our horizons, and keeps us connected. It also opens up new avenues of conversation.

  • Start a Blog

If your loved one is able to get online, why not start a blog? It's free to start a blog with wordpress or blogger, and it can be a fun way to share those details that might get forgotten during that all-important phone call. You can't normally call at 3 a.m., but you can sit at the computer and write down your latest thoughts or post a funny picture. With multiple admins, your partner can do the same.

  • Don't Forget Social Media

For those connected to the internet, social media sites are invaluable for staying in touch and up-to-date. Can’t think of much to say? Post a sentence or two on Twitter. Facebook offers more than just status updates. With Facebook, you can play games, share photos and videos, play games and even send a gift with the click of a button. Don't forget to review your privacy settings often, though. Pinterest provides an easy way to share important things you find online. Google+ also provides a good way to stay connected and updated. If you are concerned about privacy, check out the apps WhatsApp, Path, and Telegram. With these apps, you can keep your sharing just between you and your loved one. You can use Telegram from your computer as well as your phone or tablet.

  • Celebrate the Holidays

Send a card or something special to commemorate the holidays. Make a homemade gift to commemorate Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day. It’s not holiday time? Celebrate special months and days like “National Humor Month” in April or “Pet Peeve Week” in October. For a list of wacky and unique holidays, check out

Host an Online Party

Host an Online Party

Hosting an online party is a great way to show your loved one you care. At, you can easily create an online party in minutes. You could host an online birthday party, baby shower, wedding celebration, or whatever topic you can think of (How about "A party to celebrate the Best Soccer player in Birmingham"?). At Online Celebration, you just fill out a simple form and click "save", and your party is created. There are options to include text, photos, videos, and music. They also offer a "Guest Check-in" so that anyone who attends the party can choose to "check in" and place a marker on the map to show where all the guests have come from.

Distance Doesn't Have to be a Hurdle

With a little bit of creative thought and effort, distance doesn’t have to ruin your relationship. Staying close is easier than ever before for those who are willing to put in a little effort. Be creative, have fun, and nurture the relationships with those who are important to you. If you have other ideas on how to stay close in a distant relationship, please feel free to share your tips in the comments section.


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