I've been in a relationship for almost two years now, and more than a year of that time together has been long distance. It hasn't been easy, especially during the past 6 months of being apart while we were locked down due to the pandemic. If you're in the unfortunate position of having to maintain a long-distance relationship, then you know that it can take quite a toll on both people in the relationship and test how much you really want to be together.
Being in a long-distance relationship can be very difficult at times, and it certainly does test your resolve, but it's also key to remember that you already have something great going for you: the very fact that you're trying shows that you both must care a lot, and this means it's very likely to all be worth it in the end. You may have to continue to remind yourself of this, and that's okay. On the most difficult days of being apart, this is what I kept telling myself—that this is all worth it.
While maintaining a relationship over a long distance does take some extra work, there are a few things you can do that will certainly make it easier. I've learned a few things over the past year and am sharing them in hopes to help someone that may be in or about to be in a long-distance relationship.
Connect with one another
This may be the single most important thing to do when it comes to a long distance relationship. It's so easy to feel disconnected to the person you love when you are living separate lives. My boyfriend works a lot of long hours, and sometimes it's not always possible to chat over the phone every single day. Sometimes days would pass before we heard each other's voices again. But we always stay connected, whether it be a text to let each other know we're thinking of the other, something funny we share over social media to make the other smile, or leaving messages to hear one another's voice when our schedules don't allow for us to talk on the phone or FaceTime. It's so important to feel connected to one another, and communicating is one of the best ways to do so.
Give them room to grow
This is a tough one because you're already in a place where you are sacrificing certain things to stay in this relationship, however, it's also an important one. I'm always in a constant internal battle where I want him to know I'm thinking of him and there for him if he needs me, but yet, don't want to smother him or feel like he has to be connected to me through his phone 24 hours a day. I know he's living a life just like I'm living one. And although it's difficult to live separately for now, it's important to respect that for one another. If he's out with his friends for the night, I try not to text him so that he can focus on enjoying that moment and being with those people. I want to give him room to experience things just as I would if we were physically together. At times, it's difficult because I wish we were able to do some of those things together, but I think both of us being able to offer this to one another is what's kept our relationship so strong.
Just because you're a long distance away from one another doesn't mean that you can't still have fun with each other. You can still make memories with a little creativity. Date nights through FaceTime are a fun way to "spend the evening together," even when you can't spend the evening physically together. You can cook the same meal together over video chat. You can watch a movie at the same time. You can get dressed up and have dinner together. One of our favorite things to do is have coffee and simply talk, so we would often call one another and each walk to the closest Starbucks and back to continue to tradition. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you have the opportunity to feel like you're doing it together in real time. It helps to keep things exciting and helps your relationship grow.
Boy do I have the hardest time with this one. Besides the fact that I am a hopeless romantic that wants to believe that the start of every new relationship is going to be like a fairytale (I'm embarrassed even typing that but it's so very true), being in a long distance relationship can can add to this at times. Because you spend so much time apart, the time you do get to spend together feels magical and like a vacation. You go out of your way to do things for one another. You express your love in more extravagant ways than you normally would. You are so happy to finally be together that you don't get caught up in the little things of every day life. And so I feel like it's important to be realistic about your relationship. Sometimes you have to get your head out of the clouds and make sure that what you're feeling is real and true. Take a day or a weekend where you don't have anything special planned and simply be together. Live together for a week doing normal things like working and household chores. I've been lucky enough to find someone that I love spending my life with. He makes silly everyday things like doing laundry and making dinner together so much fun. But it took me pulling myself out of our extravagant moments and living everyday life together to realize that.
I think we're living proof that a long-distance relationship can not only survive, but truly thrive. I think the best piece of advice I can offer is to always be honest with one another about how you're feeling. There are days where your heart aches and you can't imagine spending one more day apart, but if it's a good, healthy relationship for both people, it's worth it. You can support one another through the difficult days so that you can enjoy the wonderful ones together. And I promise you, the wonderful ones will give you strength to get through the others.
Give love and receive love, friends.
Because that is what makes this life worth living.