In light of Valentine’s Day and all things nauseatingly loving, I thought I would post on how to survive a long-distance relationship.
I’m hesitant to call it that because I don’t think a long-distance relationship is something to be survived – I think it’s a beautiful thing that has gotten a bad reputation. That’s not unexpected, as it does have its own unique set of challenges, but it also has its rewards.
A little back story: Joshua and I have been together for seven years. We met at undergrad, clicked, and fell in love. The first two years of our relationship were amazing as we were dorming in the same residence hall and spent every waking minute together. It was probably very unhealthy, but I was 18 and in love and knew everything.
Reality set in when it was time to come back home, and I was heading back to NYC, and he was heading back to a little town in upstate New York. That first week was one of the biggest reality checks in my life.
Fast-forward five years, and Joshua and I are still at it and working on building a life together. We’ve had our fair share of naysayers and people who can’t believe we’re still together, but I believe that if you want something badly enough, you work for it. Nobody said it’s going to be easy, but what in life is? Sure, the extra distance makes some things harder than they would be if we were together more often, and things can get complicated, but the little things mean so much more.
Holding his hand after we haven’t seen each other in a few weeks, watching his face light up when I do something silly, making dinner together, playing with his hair – these are the little things that make our relationship so worth it. It’s all a learning experience, so here are 10 tips that I’ve learned to make a long-distance relationship thrive.
How To Survive a Long Distance Relationship?
I’m all about communication, especially creative communication. I’m sure you weren’t surprised that this was on the top of my list. Still, communication is key to any relationship – especially important to a long-distance relationship when you don’t have physical cues to go off on.
Think about what you want to say, and make sure you listen to what your partner is saying to you. Find creative ways to say what you need to – I like to send Joshua selfies and cute voice recordings when phone time isn’t the most convenient. Play around with different media outlets until you find what works for you. Just make sure you pay as much attention to receiving as you do to transmitting.
But don’t communicate too much.
As I said, I’m all about communication, but sometimes I can talk too much. And I can be a little clingy, like texting nonstop when I don’t get an instantaneous response back clingy.
I’m now learning to play the middle ground because texting him nonstop for 12 hours isn’t make us any closer. Doing more isn’t make up for the distance, but it will exhaust you and potentially annoy your partner. So be wise, and remember, less is more.
After communication, honesty is the most important thing in a relationship. If you can’t be true to who you are and what you’re saying to your partner, you don’t need to be in that relationship.
Sometimes feelings change, and that’s okay – ensure you and your partner are on the same page to spare as much heartache as possible. Figure out what you need and what you’re missing and tell your partner, and be receptive when they share the same with you. Honesty is key to growth and longevity.
Keep a bit of the person with you.
I was super embarrassed the first time I told Joshua this, but I don’t change my sheets after he leaves. We see each other just about every two weeks, so that’s not as terrible or as creepy as it sounds, I promise. I have a strong sense of smell, which is the first thing I notice about a person.
I like to sleep and cuddle his pillows because they smell like him, which makes me happy. I steal all of his tee shirts and sleep in them. I kidnap his belts and wear them daily. Little things like this help me feel closer to him when we’re apart, which is vital to keeping a relationship like this alive.
Joshua and I always text each other first thing in the morning before we go to bed. I text him when I get to work and when I make it home, and he does the same for me because I’m nervous nelly, and I worry about him to no end.
These things sound mundane, but it is important to him that I keep him updated on what’s happening with me and around me. Routines will make these little communications easier and second nature. Find what works for you and your partner and implement them.
Do silly things together.
Joshua and I are total geeks. I proudly wave my geek flag wherever I will geek out whenever humanly possible. Luckily, Joshua encourages this behavior and goes along with it. This gives us lots of opportunities to do things together but apart.
My favorite thing is gaming. We play many of the same video games, both handheld and on larger systems, and we’ll play them simultaneously and over the phone. He’s better than me at a lot of them, so it does take me some time to catch up, but it just helps me feel closer to him when we’re not face to face. If you and your partner can find something like this, do it!
I think one of the things that helped our relationship last as long as it has is we have so much in common, and we like the same things. We read similar books, watch similar tv shows, and love Marvel films.
He recommends books to me, and I tell him which shows he has to watch. Then we meet, talk about our thoughts, and bond over a shared experience. I think this helps keep our bond strong and ensures we always have something to talk about.
Do your own thing.
This is important. Being codependent is NOT sexy – trust me, we went through that stage. Nothing will make you feel lonelier and more despondent than being wrapped up in your significant other. Have your relationships and interests to keep you occupied and healthy.
You can be alone and not lonely, so use your time apart to figure out what makes you, you. Find out what makes you happy and what makes you thrive and build relationships outside your relationship with your partner. You’ll feel more fulfilled and be a better person for it.
Nothing can help that crushing feeling you get when your loved one is heading home. I know the minute Joshua walks out of my apartment, that sinking loneliness will try to grab me and make everything grey and bleak. I’ll be honest – sometimes I give in and indulge in a good cry. It’s therapeutic.
I will say that knowing when I’ll see him next definitely eases that feeling. If I can count the days until we’re together again, it helps when that feeling tries to creep up on me. I know life doesn’t always plan-friendly, and sometimes things happen, but if you can schedule visits in advance, do it! Anticipation always makes everything better.
Set realistic expectations and goals.
Joshua and I don’t plan on doing this long-distance thing forever. We have a big future in mind for us individually and as a couple, and we have set realistic goals and expectations. Nothing’s worse than having one-half of the couple planning out their dream wedding and the other half planning their next relationship.
Make sure you’re both on the same page regarding what you want for the future. And if you don’t have one in mind just yet, that’s okay too! You can figure that out together as long as you both have similar expectations.
That’s it for my list! It’s super long, but I hope super useful. I hope you can find something to help build your relationship here, whether it’s long-distance or not.
What strategies do you employ to keep your relationship alive? Let me know in the comments below.
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