Long-distance relationships suck. They do. If given the choice between going to the dentist and being in a long-distance relationship, I would choose the dentist every time, in spite of the deep discomfort of a stranger’s fingers in my mouth. But, sometimes, like going to the dentist, you need to be in a long distance relationship anyway.
I’ve been in a LDR for the last year-and-a-half, and I have bit more to go before long-distance is over. It’s not my favorite thing, but I’ve realized that by leaning into long-distance, instead of just wishing it away, my relationship has been strengthened and my day-to-day life has been happier.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, it’s meant communicating. When you can’t share physical space together you’ve got to find something else to share and a lot of times that’s good conversations. It’s talking about articles, op-eds, pictures of donut ice cream cones and videos of running giraffes. It’s touching base, sure, but it’s also touching on the things that we like and dislike, giving us room to keep on learning about each other even from long-distances. Communication has been key.
Another key, though, has been being okay not communicating all the time. Not only would it be challenging to skype every night, I would miss out on being present with the people around me and from experiences to explore where I am. Kevin respects that I won’t always be available to chat if it’s a busy day at work or I’m spending time with friends – and I respect that he’ll be off-the-grid sometimes, too. We talk every day, and we make time to really hear each other, but I also know when he can’t talk, too. And that’s okay.
Speaking of not talking, I try not to make the phrase “miss you” a large part of my vocabulary. Missing Kevin is a state of being as constant as being sleepy on a Monday and similar in that no one wants to hear about it all the time. He knows I miss him. My friends know I miss him too. But if I spoke all the time about how hard it was for me to be missing him, I wouldn’t be acknowledging the other graces in my life. It’d put pressure on both of us if we focused on the difficulty of the situation we’re in – instead of focusing on how to make that situation more livable. Sure, if I’m watching a movie I think he’d like or making a batch of his favorite cookies, I’ll text him and say I miss you. But it’s not a mantra to us, and I think that’s good.
Finally, after trial and error at this whole long-distance thing, something I’m trying to do is to see this time apart as time where I can really discover who I am. I can learn how to eat at a restaurant by myself, I can push myself more to deepen relationships with friends, I can listen to what my needs and wants are when my daily routine doesn’t function with a partner. I can discover how I stand on my own two feet – while preparing to walk with another.
So yes, long-distance relationships suck. But by leaning into this temporary experience it’s become, if not more lovable, than a little more livable at least.