Although Mark Hughes' loanee has been sidelined with injury, he is making good progress in his recovery and is being tipped to make his comeback soon.
"It's not strange but it's different," Rafael told MUTV's Inside Carrington programme. "We're close and I was always together with him but it's been good for us, just to become more mature.
"I used to ask him all the time if I needed something but now I need more of my own mind so I've grown more mature. It's bad because I miss him but it's good to learn more."
The United right-back hopes to be able to critique Fabio's performances over the telephone as there have been plenty of discussions about his own splendid form this term.
"Of course [we often speak]," he stated. "He is always calling me back to say something is not good [about my game]! It's always been like this. He is back in training now and maybe, when he plays again, we'll keep doing this."