This month marks the third year of my amazing five-year love story where I have been in a long distance relationship – and yes, it fucking sucks.
As much as it does suck, I know it could be worst. I consider myself one of the “lucky ones” where my long distance relationship has actually been manageable to keep because my job allows me the luxury to work remotely, granting me the freedom to visit and stay with my boyfriend, who is 3000 miles across the country (me still in California and him in Maryland), as often as I like.
Long story short, higher education and the start of our individual careers took my boyfriend and I in two separate directions although it never changed how much we loved each other. Determined to ensure our love would not be hindered by distance, we figured out a way to make it work. Nonetheless a long distance relationship is never easy, hardly ideal and, I repeat, does suck. But there is hope:
According to a recent study, long distance relationships can be equally, if not more, satisfying as geographically-close couples and, contrary to popular belief, the hard part is not the distance itself but about the “discrepancy between your expectations for relationships and the reality of your current situation.”
Pretty much you and partner both have to be on the same page in terms of what you want and expect out of a long distance relationship in order to make it work at all.
Should you find yourself deciding whether or not to have a long distance relationship, or you are currently in one and not sure how you can make it work, I do want to assure you that is it possible.
1. Share something that belongs only to you and your partner.
When you find yourself so far apart from someone you love, it helps to have one special thing in common that can bring you both closer together. For my boyfriend and I, it happens to be Game of Thrones. On my last visit to Baltimore, we started watching the series together and we both got hooked. My visit lasted only a week so we were only able to get through season three and we promised each other we wouldn’t watch the show with any one else. As silly as that sounds, it became “our thing” and wanted to keep that way. It gave us something to look forward to when talking on the phone and something to bitch about if one of us was too far behind or too far ahead in the series. Figuring out “your thing” with your partner, whether that’s scheduling in video game night together every Wednesday or Sunday night Skype dates, provides another level of intimacy despite the miles in between.
2. Simply enjoy each other’s company when you see each other.
That seems obvious but the one question people always seem to ask me when I mention I am going to visit my boyfriend or when boyfriend is in town is “What do guys have planned?” As mentioned in this other Buzzfeed article about long distance relationships, I learned to not cram so much stuff to do when I see my partner but to instead enjoy the “mellow stuff.” What people don’t seem to understand is when you can only afford to see your boyfriend every three months (tickets get pricey and I still have to coordinate both our work schedules), all I care about when I do see him is being wrapped up in his arms, having crazy monkey sex and simply just being around him. As someone who personally enjoys being out on the town exploring the next place to check out, I had to remind myself that the limited time I have with my boyfriend is precious and just spending time with him doing absolutely nothing means so more than us trying to do a bunch a shit in such a short amount of time. Enjoying the mellow stuff (hand holding, laughing at each other and just hanging out) is something you’ll find more valuable especially since you are not able to do that as often as you’d like.
3. Live like you’re single.
No, I do not mean cheat. When you spend a significant time away from your partner, you have a chance to really focus on yourself and develop a stronger sense of independence. Throw yourself into work, learn a new skill and hang out with your friends. Not only will it help you feel less lonely but also reminds you that you have a life outside your relationship. For me, being involved in a company that allows me to explore my passion for travel and social media, as well as enjoying time with family and friends, makes the time until see my boyfriend again fly right by and always gives me something interesting to tell him about whenever we talk. With that being said,
4. You don’t always have to talk to each other.
While studies have shown the key to any successful long distance relationship is communication, no need to indulge in excessive communication when you really have nothing to say – that’s a great way to start getting tired of each other.
5. Don’t play games.
In terms of communication, when all you have are phone calls, text messages or Skype, if something is the matter, be honest with your partner and let them know how you are really feeling. Long distance means an inability to read body language or interpret tones in voice. You should never expect your partner to read your mind when you say “You’re fine” and you really aren’t, and then you proceed to get upset when they don’t inquiry further.
6. Schedule visits.
There’s nothing like counting down the days until you next each other to give you something to look forward to. Emma Dargie, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Queen’s University who has studied hundreds of long-distance daters, mentioned that “Those who are certain of when they will be in the same city as their partner … seem to cope better with the distance.” Decide how often you can see each other or what works best for your situation. For me, it is much easier to fly out to see my boyfriend (due to me being able to work remotely and the fact that he has his own place), than it is for him to see me (where we works crazy hours as a nurse and I live with my parents so we have no place to stay). Since he can’t always fly out to me, we take turns paying for the airfare when I fly out to him.
7. Set some ground rules.
Obviously being in a long distance relationship means a lack of physical contact. It is important to lay some ground rules with your partner on what you are allowed or not allowed to do. Are you okay with your partner going on dates as long as they do not get intimate with that person? (This I do allow my boyfriend to do). Perhaps you decide to explore an open relationship while you are separated – what are the limitations? Having an open and honest conversation about exclusivity can help eliminate the chance for cheating to occur and feelings of betrayal to arise because you have already addressed each other’s needs and set the necessary boundaries.
8. Keep each other in the loop.
It is very easy to become jealous when your partner does not respond to you right a way, they tell you they went out somewhere or they hung out with someone after the fact. Whenever my boyfriend and I know we might not be able to answer calls, will be busy or will be going out, we always give each other a heads so we aren’t left wondering what the other is up to.
9. Send pictures.
I text my boyfriend pretty much every day but whenever he sends me a photo of himself my heart stops every time. When you spent so much time apart, seeing how your partner dressed that day or how sexy they look naked reminds you that they are real and just makes you that much more excited to see them again. For me, I also find it fascinating to being able to get a glimpse into his life on the same day we are both experiencing apart from each other.
10. Get intimate.
Just because you are not in the same town or state doesn’t mean you should let the fire die. From sexy texts to a voicemail saying how much they mean to you can go a long way until you can get real intimate the next time you do see each other.
11. Work toward an end goal.
To be quite honest, I am not sure of anyone who would willingly choose to be in a long distance relationship for fun – you go in with the mindset that you will come out stronger because you share a plan for the future. The truth is no one wants to be a in a long distance relationship forever. Should you find yourself deciding on whether to have a long distance relationship or you are currently in one, discuss with your partner what is the end goal you are both trying to achieve. Some important questions to ask are “What are our plans for the future?” “How long are we going to keep up the long distance?” For my boyfriend and I, since we started our careers in two different cities, we decided once we both reached two years at our jobs, we would discuss who would have an easier transition to move and where is the best place we can both settle down. Having a goal in mind gives more value to your long distance relationship and gives you a better understanding on why it’s worth having.
How long have you been in a LBD? How have you made your long distance relationship thrive and last? Let me know below!