Long distance relationships. They’re not the easiest topic in the book to talk about. Either you’ve been in one, are in one, or can’t imagine being in one. No matter how you slice the pie, most couples would prefer to be in the same place. I’ve recently hit the 1.5 year mark of long distance in my relationship. This has me thinking about the positives, negatives and everything in between. It has been a complete roller coaster, and while it can be easy to go down the rabbit hole of negativity, I try to remember that support and love shouldn’t fade because there’s some distance.
I’m going to make a big statement – I think every couple should go through a period of long distance. Why? Let’s get right into the positives before we end with the tips for surviving and thriving.
BENEFITS OF LONG DISTANCE
- You learn independence – I think about the beginning of a relationship when all you’ve ever been is together. It can be easy to fall into a “we” of co-dependence that can in many cases be unhealthy. After 4 years of togetherness in my relationship, there were things I just never had to deal with (i.e. Putting air in my tires) and I always had a default for plans. When I moved to Seattle last year it was hard. At first I felt 100% alone because I had to do and take care of everything. But I learned how to take care of myself. That meant that now I rely less on everyone else including bae. There’s an “us” but there’s also a “me.”
- You’re forced to get out of your comfort zone (and make friends!) – The moment I moved, because I knew absolutely no one, I hopped right into making friends. Believe me, if you’ve ever graduated from college and moved to a new city, it can be completely uncomfortable to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I truly believe that if Kiefer had moved with me, I wouldn’t have made as many amazing friendships as I eventually did. (Struggling to make friends? Check out my post for tips here. )
- Reunions are special – In the last year we’ve been to Vancouver, Canada , Portland, Oregon, Mt. Rainier, WA, and a few other places. Every reunion is special, and it becomes a fun way to travel and share new experiences.
- You learn that conversations are quality > quantity – have you ever texted someone all day, and at the end of the day thought “what did we even talk about?” Probably nothing important. Over time, we’ve learned that it’s not about how much you talk but about the quality of the conversation. For us we’ve learned that what works better is sending a few texts throughout the day, but Saving the major updates for our evening debrief.
TIPS: LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS
Talk 5 minutes a day (FaceTime preferable) – Texting does not count as talking. Voice notes don’t count as talking. Unless you’re in a crazy time zone, you should make the time to talk or FaceTime for at least 5 uninterrupted minutes a day. It re-centers you and allows you to have a sense of normalcy.
Know when you’re going to see each other next – Let me tell you, when you’re doing long distance and there’s no plan for when you’re going to see your S.O. Next, things can get rough. The distance can feel like a black hole. Something that has definitely helped us was having an idea of when we would see each other next. It gives you something to look forward to.
Set expectations – I am ALL about setting expectations… in EVERY situation whether it’s at work or in my relationship. Why? When you set expectations, you don’t get disappointed. Everyone is on the same page. For example – if you say, “let’s FaceTime an hour a day.” Is that really sustainable? Maybe for some couples, but not us. Making that clear can keep you from building resentment or causing unnecessary confusion.
Schedule your “arguments” or discussions. You might say WHAT are you talking about G? Well, when you do long distance, problems might pop up at inconvenient times. You might be in the middle of something or about to go somewhere. While it might feel unnatural to schedule the discussion, scheduling it for when you both have time will mean that you won’t get interrupted. You won’t leave the other person hanging.
Send care packages – When we were both living in the same place, it was easy to do little nice things that we both started to take for granted. A surprise coffee on a bad day, or a little “this reminded me of you” gift is always nice. When you’re in a LDR, these things need to be planned in advance, but can make a world of difference. For example, last month, when I moved to San Jose, Kiefer knew that it had been a stressful month with the move and with work. On my first day, a bouquet of flowers popped up at my door. Those flowers were a small gesture, but they made not only my day, but my entire week.
Someone (or both of you) need to take on the role of “planner” – Inevitably, there’s probably one person in the relationship that is the organized one. Guess what? that’s me. And lean into it.
What are your long distance tips?