My dearest friend lives in Mobile, Alabama. We met more than 10 years ago when we both were living in Austin and serving on the Kappa Alpha Theta Facility Corporation Board at the University of Texas. Within a few years, she relocated to Mobile, but via frequent visits and even more frequent cards and letters, emails, texts, social media exchanges and regular chats on the phone, our friendship has continued to grow. For our phone calls, we borrowed an idea from another dear friend of mine in Cincinnati:  The Tele-Date.

Personally, I think this a rather brilliant concept. The Tele-Date is when you set a date and time to chat on the phone, but instead of just chatting, you plan to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine or your favorite cocktail or a cup of coffee or some other beverage during the call. Stacy and I do this a couple of times per month. It’s a great way to add another layer of intention to phone calls, which admittedly often happen on the fly either between activities and appointments or sometimes get cut short because of little emergencies, such as the dog running out the door.

Frankly, when you treat a call with a friend more like you would an appointment or date, it’s easier to settle in and focus on the conversation.

Apply this method, and incorporate the variety of technology available, not only to long-distance friendships, but also romantic relationships. My significant other, Mark, is an assistant director. While Louisiana has superseded New York and Los Angeles in film projects and we prefer it when he works right here in New Orleans, travel is part of the business. To close up the distance, we’ve both, for example, ordered Chinese delivery at the same time and enjoyed it together via Skype. Since we don’t always have a couple of hours to enjoy a long dinner and conversation, it’s a fun alternative to have a quick drink with him after work via Facetime.

Of course, nothing beats time spent face-to-face with friends and loved ones, but the Tele-Date sure does melt away the miles.

How do you stay connected with loved ones? Share your tips in the comments.