I’ve been hesitant to write about long distance because God (and sweet Matthew) know that I’m no pro at it. But after almost 6 years of it, maybe I’ve learned a thing or two that I can share with the people who have just started with long distance.
First off, I’m not going to lie it sucks. I see Matthew a few days every month and only a few hours each of those days during the season. If you would’ve told me when we started dating in high school that was going to be our future, I would have said “oh heck no”. Anyone who does long distance knows, it’s hard. I don’t need to tell you that. Whether you’re an hour away or a country away it’s hard.
But it’s not all bad and everything is temporary. So here are a few things I’ve learned to help and look on the bright side.
Have your own life. Oh boy I can’t stress this one enough. If you’re living for the few times you get to see your boyfriend you’re missing out on so much. Take the time you can’t see him as a really great opportunity to not have to divide your time between friends and your relationship.
Plan ahead. If it’s possible plan you’re next trip during your current one. It makes goodbyes a whole lot easier.
When you’re there, be there. It’s easy not to always be present but it’s important to be if you have limited time together. That means putting the phone down.
Set expectations. Set your expectations of how often you both think you can afford to see each other.
Don’t compare. It’s easy to compare your relationship to other couples who get to see each other all the time or see each other more than you. When you realize your relationship is YOURS, it get a whole lot easier.
Try not to cry at goodbyes. This is Matthew’s “rule” for me. In college, when we were two hours away from each other, I would cry saying goodbye every time. Finally, he said “you’re ending a great weekend on a sad note”. He was right. I realized if I could try to leave on a positive note, I wouldn’t be so sad leaving and it worked.
Communicate. I like avoiding conflict. I like pretending I’m not upset and hoping it will go away. The thing is, with long distance you don’t get that luxury of waiting for them to see how you are in person to resolve the conflict. It’s easy to pretend you’re not upset over the phone. You have to communicate if you are. (I’m still working on this always)
Learn to be okay being alone. For me that’s meant being okay going to weddings and events without my plus one. Don’t dwell on being sad about it but instead look at it as an opportunity to spend time with other people you normally wouldn’t.
I’m by no means a pro at long distance. In college when we were two hours away from each other is completely different from being a 2 hour plane ride away from each other. Both with constant learning curves.
My biggest piece of advice: Give yourself and your partner grace. Lots of grace. You are both going to have to learn how to miss each other, communicate more than usual, and miss out on things normal couples get to do. It will be hard on both of you. But if you give each other lots of grace you will find that the growth you experience in your relationship during long distance far outweighs the struggles.