I’ve been in a long distance relationship since Junior year of high school. Wait, let me rephrase that; since Junior year of high school, I’ve been in a series of long distance relationships. I was 16 at the start of it and now I am 24 going on 25 and while I’m certainly not who I used to be, I am a product of the miles between love and obligation to my own self. Having endured high school graduation, college, post-grad delirium and moving home, then back to New York City in these relationships, I fell victim to everything from moving somewhere for your significant other, to slews of arguments via text message, to feeling like I was in a relationship with my laptop because I spent so much time on Skype. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, lied to myself, lied to the someone who loved me, became literally too good at goodbyes, during this almost eight year period of my young adult life that it would be depressing if I were to tell you that I didn’t believe in long distance relationships. They can work and can be worth it but ultimately it’s a matter of self awareness. I’ll explain exactly what that means with some tips for making it through the tough times, namely the season that’s upon us: cuffing season.
- There are two people in a relationship, two independent people: As I find myself waking up cozy in my full size bed in 40 degree weather, alone, it’s inevitable that I begin to feel like a bit of a sap when it comes to missing my other half. While I’m currently five hours ahead of my boyfriend in Hawaii (the grass is greener on the other side) it’s easy to get down on my present circumstances. The thing with long distance relationships is that you have two people trying to build a life together while also living in two different worlds. This is not a negative thing, but it can be when a green-eyed monster called Jealousy rears its head. If you’re comfortable, happy even, with your own life and can find fulfillment in your quotidian, this doesn’t have to be a problem. Apply this way of thinking to your partner’s life as well and in doing so, you open up an avenue for friendship, camaraderie, a confidant. Instead of asking, “oh, who are you going with?” say, “tell me about your friends!” This facilitates an openness and actually allows you to be a part of their lives as you are setting yourself up for inclusion.
2. LDR’s require planning: Not sure how many vacation days you have? Well you’re going to want to check. Long distance relationships require planning, and a lot of it. Lucky for those of you who still have spring, summer and winter break but for the rest of us adults, knowing when you’re going to see each other next is a big deal. Without a relative end to the obligation to text back while you’re out with friends or the painful game of phone tag that too often ensues, bleakness can show its true colors.
But even on a more day-to-day level, planning can assuage the pains of being far apart. Figure out what your partner’s schedule is: when do they take lunch, what day of the week do they have soccer. Not only does having this knowledge make you feel like you know what’s actually going on in their lives, but it forces communication in the best possible way. If you’re going to remain a part of each other’s lives, you’re going to have to make time for it.
- Know when to sacrifice and when to live your own life: Your co-worker who you’ve recently gotten close with is having a birthday party, should you go for the sake of solidifying the friendship or should you stay in so that you can Skype your significant other? Maintaining your personal life can fall waywards when you’re so focused on “making it work” with your lover. Yet don’t let this be detrimental, bitterness grows when you water someone else’s garden before tending to your own. Long distance relationships work best when you’re living as the best version of yourself, you don’t want to ever feel that your partner is the cause of you not seeing your best friends for a night of much needed dancing, and believe it or not, your partner doesn’t want that either. There is a fine balance between taking care of the relationship and taking care of yourself, and the former usually begins with the latter.
4.You’re still learning about each other: Your relationship is clearly strong enough if you’ve decided to embark on an LDR venture but the learning and growing doesn’t stop there. Arguments and differences are seemingly amplified when you can’t simply “talk it out” or meet for after-work drinks to smooth things over but you can either fault your situation or realize that being in an LDR is like being in a pressure cooker. You’re learning so much about each other and yourself because you’re giving one another room to grow.
So while your friends might be looking to turn up and hook up, casting their lines into the dating pool turned cesspool of cold, single New Yorkers, hunker down your hatches and revel in knowing that you are loved, even from miles (and miles) away.