Something for you long-distance lovers.
I see my significant other, and I like one of the millions of couples who have been put through numerous obstacles, but ultimately our love and dedication overcame them all. Some people ask why in the world I would do such a thing and set, I’d rather have him in my life 1680 miles away, than not at all. After all, the distance is only going to be temporary if this turns out to be a long-term thing.
I’d be lying if I told you it was a complete walk in the park. It’s anything but. More like competing in a triathlon – and the whole course is nothing but thick mud and brush. It takes trust, communication, compromise, and a LOT of work. It takes a lot of things, both physical and emotional commitment and sacrifice. You both have to be willing to put in the same amount of effort, with a strong understanding of yourself first.
Think of a teeter-totter: the only way it’s balanced is if both parties are level with the ground, supported by their own two feet. Each couple is different, and the stories behind your relationship are different. Two months or two years, time doesn’t set a limit on how you feel for someone, and neither does distance. So I’ve put together a list of 20 ways that you can make a long-distance relationship work.
1. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Whether the distance is 20 miles or 20 states, communication is the most important thing. In this day in age, the ways to communicate with one another are endless. FaceTime, Skype, Snapchat, or traditional text, maybe even email. Talking all things how your day was, how you’re feeling, what your dinner consisted of is an active component of making a long-distance relationship work.
Not only does it remind your partner that you want to include them in your day, but it shows that you want to let them know about what your life consists of while you’re apart, though. With that being said, you also have to be realistic. The first thing couples do wrong in long-distance relationships is set guidelines that they expect to follow every minute of every day, such as texting 24/7.
If either of you is like me, your days are sometimes sporadic and spur of the moment, even if you have everything planned; that doesn’t mean your day will always go according to it. I am mostly busy all day every day. I’ve known couples that have rules such as it being mandatory that you talk on the phone every morning while you’re getting ready for work. Maybe for some people, that works out for both of you.
If so, that’s great! But for others, that may not be possible. Some people work twelve-hour shifts that allow little time even to sit down and have a meal that doesn’t consist of chips and other vending machine snacks. Remember that even couples that live in the same city don’t see each other every single day (except those who live together). Doing what society deems is required’ is the quickest way to ruin a good relationship, so make sure to set expectations of communicating with each other, but also be realistic about the separate lives you two live while you’re apart.
2. BE REALISTIC
With my significant other in the army, we can only plan so far ahead to see each other. He doesn’t exactly get to choose when we can see each other; we have to plan it as we can. Learn to be realistic about the time that you have between seeing each other (again). Take time to sit down and consider all factors: is your significant other in a career that requires them to move often?
If so, you may not see each other for months at a time are you prepared for that? Thinking realistically will eliminate the option of getting your hopes up and allow you to be utterly grateful for any and every chance you get to be with each other. At times, it also may give you a definite date/time that you can look forward to seeing one another.
3. LET YOUR CREATIVITY FLOW OUT
Being in a long-distance relationship, I’ve noticed that my creative side has grown ten-fold. I have a Pinterest board full of ideas that I use all the time, whether it be a birthday, anniversary, or just because. My significant other loves to be surprised randomly by a package in the mail that he had no idea was on its way. I like to send him what I call ‘man baskets’ a lot of times I fill a flat-rate box with beef jerky and other snacks, along with maybe a shirt or iTunes card and a few other ‘dude’ gifts.
There doesn’t even have to be a reason behind it; it’s just to let him know that I was thinking about him and wanted to do something sweet for him. He also loves when I surprise him with something that he was talking about, like a new pair of sunglasses or even a pack of socks.
It’s the times when he least expects it. It doesn’t put a price on my love for him, but it shows him I was listening. Your creativity doesn’t even have to come at a price. Try sending your significant other pictures of you/you two, writing them a poem, or making them a handmade card. It is the little things that will make a huge impact and make them understand that you’re thinking of them and wanted to make it known.
4. APPRECIATE ALL THINGS, BOTH BIG AND SMALL
Being away from your significant other, your appreciation for everything increases significantly. You appreciate the ten-minute phone call she makes to see how your day is going because you’re on her mind. You understand the picture he sends you of him eating your favorite burrito from Taco Bell because he misses you.
You appreciate the Snapchat throughout the day because it makes you feel like you’re there with them. It’s nice to remind your loved one that you understand the gestures they make, both big and small. It drives them to do it more often, knowing it produces a positive reaction from you. Appreciation stems from the other’s effort; you have to be willing to put forth the effort to put a smile on their face, and continuously work at showing them how you feel.
I was once in a serious relationship for almost three years. We moved in together after dating only a few months, and while it wasn’t the worst thing I could have done, looking back, I still feel like we should have dated for a more extended period. It’s not that things changed dramatically, but the element of appreciation wasn’t the same after the first year or so.
I stopped appreciating the little things because they didn’t often happen. After all, we both got comfortable and stopped trying. Always remember to not only understand your partner but let it be known that you understand them.
5. ALLOW JEALOUSY IN MODERATION
You and your significant other will lead different lives while you’re apart; you will have friends, and so will they, and you will both go out with said friends. It’s natural to have some jealousy; after all, those are the people that get to see your loved one more than you do. But there is a line that defines the amount of jealousy that’s considered normal.
When you start to find yourself jealous that he has made a habit of going out every Friday with his guy friends, or that she spends her Saturdays shopping with girlfriends take a step back and ask if this jealousy is stemming from problems you have recently been having, or if it’s because you feel left out and unattended to. If you see a picture of him out with friends and he has his hand on a girl, your jealousy quite possibly could eat you alive.
Whatever it may be, again, communicating this with your partner is crucial. If you don’t, the stress from it will build up inside of you and cause unnecessary problems leaving your partner wondering what’s going on. Try to resolve this jealousy you feel by talking it out with your loved one, in hopes of finding a resolution and common ground. You need to know when the jealousy is just silly and dumb, but also when it is justified and should be brought up.
6. BE BUSY, BUT NOT TOO BUSY
One of the most important things I’ve learned about being in a long-distance relationship: keep yourself busy. Distract yourself from being lonely and missing your loved one. The more free time you have to dwell on the sadness you feel, the more you will find yourself not-so-optimistic about the situation you’re in. Learn a new hobby, or pick an old one back up.
You wouldn’t believe how fast it makes the time go by! In my opinion, the free time is one of the best things about a long-distance relationship. Putting progress and work into yourself only benefits your relationship, because you get to learn yourself even more than you already know. Use that extra time to fall in love with yourself, just as your significant other has.
At the same time, though, don’t get too busy to where your schedules leave little time to interact and spend time with your significant other. Sometimes all the free time gets to me because all I want to do is curl up with him and talk about my day. My significant other knows that if I’m upset, he makes time to stop whatever he’s doing so I can vent, discuss, or even cry to him. I have a home-based business that I recently started back up, thanks to the support and motivation from my other half. It keeps me busy most days, so I don’t have as much time to dwell on how much I miss him.
I’m also in school right now pursuing a double major, so I always have a busy schedule. It makes the day fly by, and before I know it, we’re both free and able to call each other to talk about our days. I have learned to make time during my day for him, no matter how busy it gets. Especially if I’m having a bad day, getting to talk to him can usually turn it around from me. Whether I’m able to FaceTime him or only able to send him a text or two until I get finished with work, I do whatever I can to remind him that I miss him, and I’m thinking of him.
7. THEY WON’T ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU LIKE YOU NEED
Being a woman, sometimes I have mental and emotional breakdowns most without reason or justification, I do. All I want to do is come home from wherever I am, with him standing in my doorway waiting for me to breakdown and ready to catch me. Being apart, that can’t happen. Sure, he can comfort me with words, but that can only do so much.
Having a literal shoulder to cry on is so much more relieving than crying over the phone. More often then not, I’m left to dealing with my stress alone because all I can do is a vent to him through technology. Although it helps, sometimes it just doesn’t quite beat him being in person.
8. YOU WILL GO LONG periods WITHOUT PHYSICAL CONTACT
I’m not too clingy when it comes to physical contact, just being in the same room as who I love is good enough for me most times but there are days that all I want to do is snuggle on the couch and watch old movies, and I don’t get to do that. Reality sets in that the distance between us is once again, the reason for me being lonely.
You miss the sweet kisses on the forehead when you wake up, and you miss the way she wraps her arms around you from behind when you’re sitting on the couch. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes at parties when you go to hug an attractive person, and that hug lasts more than two seconds, your mind is like њYES! Sweet physical contact!ќ and for a moment you feel whole again, but then you’re reminded: What about my significant other? and then you’re right back sad again.
Being in public is the absolute worst. You see all these lovey-dovey couples holding hands, flirting, kissing, and you crave that. As human beings, we crave contact in all kinds of ways. When we don’t get that contact, it hurts. Your heart hurts. Sexual contact is a completely different story, on a whole other level. Being human, we need that intimate connection. It’s something we crave. However, a major plus is that if you go long periods without sexual contact when you finally do get together, it’s like every touch and every kiss is amplified, and the sensitivity is ten-fold.
9. MAKING TRUST A PRIORITY
Any and every relationship needs trust, but long-distance relationships require even more trust than usual. When you see each other daily, you know what the other one is doing. But when you don’t, you have no idea what they’re up to unless they tell you, of course.
Unfortunately, insecurities are a part of everyone. There will come a time where that little voice in the back of your head asks you to question if they are doing what they say they are. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little uneasy when I see pictures of attractive women with my significant other.
But that’s where trust comes into play. You have to trust that they love you and that they won’t cheat or flirt. You have to trust that they will communicate to you when they’re feeling different about the relationship, instead of leaving things unsaid and acting upon themselves. Without trust, your relationship won’t make it very far.
10. MAKING HONESTY A NECESSITY
In all relationships, this is a given, but especially in long-distance relationships, it is crucial. It somewhat goes hand in hand with communication, in that you don’t know what your significant other feels if they don’t communicate it to you. Be honest with your significant other, whether it’s where you’re going, what you’re doing, or who you’re hanging out with. If you feel the need to fabricate details about your day (and it’s not beneficial to them), then maybe you should re-evaluate your relationship.
Don’t hide how you feel, either. If something doesn’t feel right, let them know. You can’t be afraid to voice out about your fears to them; if you’re jealous, worried, or just uneasy about something, you have to make it known, and they need to be able to understand you calmly. If you can’t be open enough about how you feel and if they can’t be respectful in understanding your feelings, why are you in a long-distance relationship? The longer you stay together, the more trying it gets. Learn to be honest; it will help you both out.
11. MAKING ARGUMENTS CONSTRUCTIVE, NOT DESTRUCTIVE
Every couple argues, even about the dumbest things. The key to keeping the peace is learning how to productively argue while you’re apart, whether it’s via Skype or phone call. I’ve learned to never, ever argue over a text message (unless it’s unavoidable). Believe it or not, a lot of arguments stem from misunderstanding one another.
If you talk about how you feel about a certain situation, hopefully, your significant other can see from your point of view and work with you on alleviating the problem. The little stressors like jealousy insecurities, loneliness tends to build up the tension between you two and sometimes can cause you to lash out on your significant other.
So, when you feel an argument coming about, learn to be cautious with your words and look for a solution together, rather than be hateful towards each other to get your point across.
12. UNDERSTANDING WHAT COMMITMENT MEANS:
If you are not 100% committed to making this work at whatever cost, don’t go through with it. The easiest way to make something fail, especially something like this, is going into it with either doubt or room for questioning it. Every day that you are in a long-distance relationship, there’s a good chance that missed opportunities will be more frequent than you realize.
Jobs you won’t take, people you won’t date, places you won’t go. It’s in itself a constant sacrifice and commitment. You’d rather make time for your significant other, such as staying to watch a Skype movie instead of attending the hottest party of the year. Not everyone will understand your choices, but that’s okay; they don’t need to. Keep in mind that these sacrifices can pay off ten-fold if you keep in view the reason why you’re so committed to this person. I’ve learned to accept that being in a long-distance relationship takes a lot of sacrifices.
I don’t go out as much because not only do I avoid putting myself in situations that aren’t healthy, but I don’t like being reminded that I’m the odd man out with no hand to hold. (I still make time to go out, it’s just not as much as I did my sophomore year.) Opportunities will come and go, but I want him and me to stay forever; therefore, my commitment to him comes first.
13. KEEP SOMETHING OF THEIRS
When you’re away from your significant other from a significant amount of time, make sure you keep something of theirs around that will comfort you when you’re down. Their favorite t-shirt, or maybe go out and buy a bottle of the cologne he likes to wear & spray it on your pillow every night before bed.
Believe it or not, I’ve learned that this is extremely helpful to alleviate somewhat the element of missing them so much. With my other half being in the military, I had a paracord bracelet made in camouflage colors with a dog tag on it, engraved with a saying that is special to both of us: it reads all my loving, I’ll see you soon.ќ I wear it everywhere I go, except when I take a shower, and it does make me feel so much closer to him.
14. HAVE FAITH AND OPTIMISM
Not only should you have faith in your relationship, but in your partner as well. When you have faith in your partner, you know that if they love you, they’ll remain faithful. Faith means that you don’t have any doubt in your mind. Remember how far you’ve come.
Even if you’ve only been together a short time, remember the reasons you got into a relationship in the first place and evaluate if those reasons are worth continuing that relationship. That alone should re-establish your faith in your significant other. Also, be optimistic about what you two have! Be optimistic that you’re one day closer to seeing each other again. Optimism can make things so much better if you keep a positive outlook on everything.
Don’t constantly dwell on the negative aspects, either. Your significant other doesn’t enjoy this any more than you do; you’re going to have both good and bad days, but if you dwell more on the bad, it makes it hard to focus any on the good.
15. UNDERSTAND YOUR DIFFERENCES
The reality of all long-distance relationships is that you will take one of two roads: you either eventually move in and begin a life together, or you break up. Too often, people end up dating the idea of a person and never really accept that person for who they are.
They don’t want to come to terms with the completely raw, insecure, and flawed person they’ve been with. This can be somewhat difficult if you’ve never spent a decent amount of time with one another to see how they are past the honeymoon stage. Whether you’re from the same town and have recently been put into a long-distance relationship, or if you two met online and haven’t met in person once in the year that you’ve known each other understanding that you are both different is really important.
I’m from a small Mississippi town, and my other half is from Las Vegas. (I lived there for about five years and I carry myself like I am a city girl, which doesn’t make it too difficult to see eye to eye on things.) But the sad truth is that those annoying habits they possess will most likely be there to stay.
I have a bad habit of leaving makeup wipes on the counter because I forget to throw them away. Women’s hair clogs the drains, and men’s ends up all over the counter after shaving. It’s disgusting but as human beings, we’re in a sense disgusting. Whether your significant other leaves food in the dishes in the sink or gets OCD about the way the pillows sit on the couch, you have to eventually choose to either adapt to being used to their ways or move on.
16. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ME’ TIME
I’m the type of person that likes a lot of space. It’s not an indicator that I’m not romantic or lovey-dovey with my significant other, but I started my independence at a very young age. Some people get into a relationship and morph into having a dependence on their significant other and I just personally can’t see how. Even when I lived with my former boyfriend of almost three years, I still did things on my own. Paid my own bills, and even took over some of our bills together.
However, I found it was much harder to have time for myself. I cherished every trip to Walmart that I got to make alone. The more I couldn’t make time for myself, the more I found myself wanting to be away from him for longer periods of time.
I took every chance that I could get out of the house, and that’s just not healthy. In long-distance relationships, even if you get more me’ time than you’re used to, it pays off for the better. I still maintain an independent lifestyle that’s just who I am. I make it known when I need time to myself, too. Like I said before, that comes into play with good communication. My significant other gives me the space I need and trusts that I will come back level-headed. Guess what? I always do.
17. KEEP COMMON INTERESTS
Is there a website that you both frequent? Perhaps, favorite tv show that you both have seen every current episode twice of? What about a video game you both like playing? It’s important to keep similar interests when being apart because it makes you feel connected to your partner even though you aren’t physically there.
My significant other and I play Battlefield 4 together all the time, and without a doubt, he is my favorite teammate. We’re also huge Anchorman nerds we quote it often during the day, and even though we’ve both seen the movie close to a hundred times, it still cracks me up when he quotes the movie and it relates to the situation. Not only does it offer constant bonding with you and your significant other, but it also keeps the spark alive that you guys can have fun together.
18. DON’T LET THE NEGATIVE CONSUME YOU
You will also have a lot of people will have negative things to say about your relationship. њThat’s so dumb, it’s not gonna lastќ or њfor all you know, you could be one of the manyќ. So many people have asked me why I waste my time’ on someone who I never see, and that it completely defeats the purpose of dating someone.
I completely disagree. Just because my relationship is not one in which I see him every day, doesn’t mean it’s not thriving. The way our lifestyles are set up, it’s just not meant for us to be closer to one another right now. But you know what? We make it work. I am with him for a reason, and that reason is that I love him. Distance is only temporary, and I would much rather have him to love from a distance than not at all. Different people make it work differently it’s all about perspective.
Negativity will come from a lot of people, but you are the only one who knows what you feel every day. You know the love that is between you two. After all, a relationship is between TWO people, not you two plus your friends and family. If you know how you feel and what’s there, what else could matter?
19. KEEP THINGS TRANSPARENT
Some people would argue that your significant other doesn’t NEED to know EVERYTHING that happens in your everyday life and while that may be true, I still tell mine pretty much everything. Even the things that might make him uneasy or upset, I value honesty over keeping things from him.
I don’t tell him about every guy that hits on me or every time someone makes me mad, but I do mention it if it upsets me past a certain point. The same goes for him I don’t expect him to tell me every time something happens with him because I trust him to handle it himself. One day, I mustered up the courage to have lunch with my ex-boyfriend (the three-year one) and since my significant other is away at basic training, the only way I can communicate with him is through the mail.
I couldn’t write to him and wait for a response two weeks later because it would have been too late, so I went ahead with having that lunch. (Things ended with a somewhat nasty tone to it with my ex & I, and that’s not how I wanted things to be, for my own closure.) I was so worried that my other half would be upset with me, but instead, he was happy that I told him about it and praised me for getting closure with my ex. I didn’t have to tell him at all, but I wanted to.
I wanted him to know that I put his opinion on things first. More or less, I got the closure that I didn’t even realize I needed and it reassured my feelings for my significant other now. So long story short — when I’m upset, I tell him. When I’m angry, I tell him. When I’m overjoyed, I tell him. We keep no secrets unless it’s dealing with a surprise for one another. And that alone has made our relationship much stronger than when we first started.
20. LOVE EACH OTHER ENDLESSLY
Each of the almost seven billion people in this world has a different love language and that is what makes love in itself so beautiful! He may show his affection for his loved one by buying them nice things, whereas her version of showing that she cares is by making her significant other’s favorite meal every Saturday night. There is really no wrong’ way to love.
As long as you are pouring your heart into something, never let someone tell you that you’re doing it wrong’. My opinion on love is that it’s the best type of madness you will ever experience. You will laugh, fight, smile, argue, cry, yell and you will love. Hopefully with your whole heart.
Anything less than that isn’t worth the effort. The world is full of so much negativity, and it desperately needs more raw, unending love. Write her a poem, or sing him a song love your significant other unconditionally because when you have a strong foundation of love to start with you two can accomplish absolutely anything together.
Long-distance relationships are not for the weak or faint of heart. They will be loaded with many nights of sleeping alone, the occasional bout of jealous, and more often than you’d like you’ll find yourself once again, asking if this is all worth it. Am I pouring my heart out for something that is going to fall through? Like I stated in the very beginning, only you can make that decision. You have to decide if being with this person is worth it. Are all the lonely nights worth it? Is going months at a time without any physical contact worth it?
Is spending only two weeks at a time together worth it? Before you embark on anything as serious as a long-distance relationship, take a step back and realize that it will not be a breeze to go through but if you stick through it, put effort into it, and stay committed it will pay off and you will have such a beautiful story to look back on.
The better certainly DOES come after the worst. Even though it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever see the sunshine, just remember that the most beautiful gardens never bloomed without rain.