And now, the last of my “advice” posts for now. When I wrote it, I was in Spain with Daniel, so I got to run it past him and get his take on what I should write, as well, which I thought was necessary considering that a relationship includes two people, even if one of those people is clearly more opinionated and outspoken than the other! Anyway, as always, I invite my readers to share their wisdom in the comments!
I was initially anxious about dating Daniel long distance after being together for aboooouttt eight months of seeing each other every day, having several classes together, and living a six minute walk apart. (College spoils you, for real.) From June till September we were “long-distance” aka he was in Beaumont and I was in Houston and we saw each other every two to four weeks, and then I moved to Germany and our definition of “long” was changed for.e.ver. I know that 5.25 months of trans-Atlantic dating doesn’t exactly qualify us for the long-distance champions award, but the more I think about it, the more impressive it seems (and the more respect I have for people in the military, who have to do this kind of thing all the time). I’m writing this post as someone who was apprehensive about the whole thing and has now learned to at least appreciate the merits of long-distance!
(You will notice that I will NOT be including the ever lovely tidbit that every single long distance relationship advice article tells you, aka “Have an end goal in mind.” Obviously it is important to have an idea that one day you will see each other again and maybe even live in the same city, but for a lot of the time that we were on separate continents, we didn’t have a firm reunion date set, and at some point it seemed like the nebulous reunion would be pushed back as much as 2 months! 2. Months. But the point is, we survived and the following things were helpful!)
Keep communication lines open. Let’s just take a minute to be glad that this is 2014 and even the Atlantic Ocean and a 7 hour time difference can’t get in the way of the Facebook Messenger App. Amen. It would obviously not be healthy to talk 24/7 and therefore have no life outside of your LDR, but at least a little bit of chat/e-mail time per day is helpful. We love Pusheen for helping us to express emotions we never knew we had.
Our goal was Skype once a week/once every 10 days… international phone calls aren’t a super economical option, so for our future stateside LDR, I guess we’ll probably talk more often…. if we even have that much to say to each other by then! 😉
I guess another thing to add is that it’s important to strike a balance between everyday (trivial) conversation and important, weighty discussions. I think we did a good job of that, although we maybe pushed some of the big discussions till the last minute when one of us was at the end of our rope for one reason or another! It would get tiring to always talk about serious topics like the future, the distance, how everyone is feeling about the future and the distance, etc., but you can’t survive on everyday chitchat alone.
Be flexible. At the beginning (in the summer/wimpy distance time), I would get really anxious and mad if Daniel were late calling me one night, but being REALLY far apart makes it impossible to have a successful relationship without being forgiving and flexible. We would try to Skype on Sundays, but if one of us was traveling, that would often not work so we figured out a Plan B. At first, we tried sending gifts/cards/flowers for anniversaries/birthdays/med school interviews, but then that got expensive/difficult to time so by Christmas we agreed not to do long distance gifts and save our money for a nice dinner when we saw each other. Life’s too short and the distance is too long to get hung up on little stuff like that (says the Queen of Getting Hung Up On Little Things). This could obviously vary depending on the couple… maybe you love sending surprise packages and gifts! I don’t know. The point is, it won’t always be perfect, but that’s actually fine.
Be thoughtful in little, doable, everyday ways. Obviously, sending cards and gifts a long way is expensive and talking every day is time-intensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and surprise each other from a long way away. When I was having a really hard time with the distance, Daniel sent me an incredibly sweet card and mix CD (we can’t help it, we’re early millenials) that he somehow fit all in the same envelope! It was such a wonderful gesture that made me feel so loved! And I am really bad at giving/sending gifts, but I made a habit of sending 2 postcards from anywhere I visited, even just day trips: one to my parents, and one to Daniel. Thoughtful romance doesn’t have to be unattainable!
Daniel adds that it’s important to always remind your long-distance significant other that you miss them and that you’re thinking about them, even if you assume they already know those things! We made it an everyday habit, after a few rough weeks, to each make sure to send a little encouraging Facebook message that the other one would receive upon waking up.
Enjoy the freedom (within reason, of course). At the 4 month mark, I started to realize something awesome. In a way, our long-distance relationship let me “have it all,” if you will. This year, I’ve been able to live in a foreign country, call a new city home, practice my German, make new friends, visit 10ish countries, bulk up my CV (ha!), and generally experience the best of the “independent” 20-something life. These are things that people assume they can only experience while “unattached,” and that a relationship would “hold them back” from having an exciting life! Please. I was able to do all these things and to share my experiences with Daniel, who is always excited for me and supportive of everything I do.
Along these lines, Daniel adds that it was helpful for him to not dwell on the distance or missing me, choosing instead to concentrate more on productive things like work and school. He also says that instead of focusing on the negative (aka the fact that we were/are far apart), he would choose in difficult moments to think of the positive: the anticipation of when we would be together, and how happy we would feel in that moment.
When all else fails, remind yourself over and over that, once you see each other again, it will feel like no time has passed. I mentioned above that, thanks to evil medical school acceptance timelines, at some point we were unsure whether we’d be able to see each other in February, as planned, and we thought we’d have to push our reunion back to late April. This was obviously not what we wanted to happen, but there was very little we could do to control the outcome. Inspired by my Christmas trip with my family (I hadn’t seen them for months and was worried about how the reunion would go, only to realize that it was like no time had passed once we were all together!), I made this my mantra: “Once we’re together, it won’t matter. Once we’re together, an extra two months will seem like nothing!” It seems simple, but it really did help. And it was true! We were able to see each other in February after all, but it was like those 5 months of separation had never existed.
I don’t regret transitioning to long-distance dating one bit. We don’t know when the transition will reverse itself, but for now, I am enjoying the fruits that have come out of this so far: clearer communication between me and Daniel, stronger trust in our relationship, greater respect for how awesome, thoughtful, and supportive my boyfriend is, more appreciation for animated cat emojis, and a brighter outlook for a shorter-distance future! 🙂
Did we miss anything? Let us know! This list was not meant to be comprehensive, and we still need advice, ourselves!!