John and I have been in a long-distance relationship for a number of years but, ironically, the physical separation has actually brought us closer as a couple. We’ve had to learn how to communicate openly and honestly without taking it personally. We’ve learned to appreciate each other’s presence more deeply. We’ve both grown increasingly independent, which helps us to love each other in a healthy way. Long distance has challenged us to be more creative with dates, making our limited time together as memorable as possible. All in all, It has no doubt been challenging at times, but it also has been a very beautiful journey.
A recent conversation with John inspired me to think about the things that have allowed us to make long-distance work. And even though long distance love is tough, it is definitively not impossible. In my experience, when you find a person who you have no desire to live without, then any amount of long distance is worth it!
When you are with someone in person, you have the luxury of reading someone’s facial expressions or observing their behaviors, which can be indicators of what’s going on in a person’s mind. In a long distance relationship, you don’t have that. The other person is not going to be able to guess when you’re upset or struggling unless you tell them. Often times, this can require new levels of vulnerability and—at times—bring frustration. You may feel like you shouldn’t have to explain yourself, but keeping it in only harbors tension and aggravation. In a long distance relationship conversation is your main activity, so make use of it! Share about your day, vent about your struggles, let your person know when you are upset. It is amazing how much you can learn about someone you thought you knew everything about through these conversations!
Long distance requires trust on multiple levels. First, and most obviously, you must trust your partner. However, you must also trust that your own respective situations that are separating you are bettering you in some way that will later contribute to what you each bring to the relationship. Jealousy can be a natural part of a long-distance relationship, however, and most commonly jealousy is bred out of a lack of trust. Jealousy and lack of trust can lead to second-guessing, overanalyzing, and/or self-pity, all of which take away from your relationship. Let go of it all and just force yourself to trust.
Self-reflection is important in every relationship, but especially in a long distance one. In a long distance relationship, emotions can be magnified. This is why I have found it helpful to self-reflect. Am I being rational or irrational? (Either is okay, but knowing is important.) Am I blowing things out of proportion? Have I let my imagination get the best of me? If I sleep on it and spend a little time doing something I love, will I still feel the same way? It is important to stay levelheaded, and self-reflection helps this.
- Have visits planned, but don’t spend all of your time counting down
John and I always try to have the next visit planned. It makes it easier to part ways and gives you something to look forward to. This being said, I spent way too much time and energy in my first year or so of long distance pining over John and counting down the days until I would see him next. It is of course important to look forward to and build anticipation for visits, but it shouldn’t be all consuming. In the meantime, cook a good meal, go to the gym, read a good book.
- Strive to be a better version of you
Work to become the best version of yourself, as it can only enhance your relationship both while you are long distance and once you are back together in the same place. One year while John and I were long distance, I spent 2 months in a rural village in Uganda with an extremely limited ability to communicate with him. Prior to my trip, I was afraid of how it would affect our relationship, but I knew we both would be challenged to grow. Turns out, that trip was an incredibly defining and important for me as a person. Strive to improve yourself while you are apart so you have something new to bring when you are together!
Although long distance comes with its fair share of difficulties, I have to admit that overall, I have been surprised with how much easier it has been than I originally thought. It can be a truly beautiful thing if you let it be—and that second part is the key!