In more ways than one, long distance has made my relationship what it is.
Matt and I met in January 2016 (IRL..) and after a few months chatting back and forth (not IRL) we decided to attempt what became a VERY Long Distance Relationship.
For those not on the ‘bandwagon’, Matt moves home *TOMORROW!!* after almost 3 years living in Los Angeles. We’ve been ‘together/talking’ for over 2 years of that, and tomorrow marks the exact day 2 years ago that we ‘properly met’ in a very awkward driveway “do I go in for a hug or not” scenario.
When we were discussing whether or not we could make a LDR work, I had no doubts. I’m just one of those people that doesn’t really think much through (lol) until it’s actually a problem. But we knew one thing (and still do now) and that was that if it was going to work, effort needed to be put in.. constantly.
I’m sure when most of you imagine a LDR happening, you picture constant Skype Calls and cute postcards back and forth- somewhat true.. somewhat not.
I’m also sure that when you find yourself faced with the reality of having to begin a LDR with your current partner, all you imagine is what can go wrong. And there’s a lot of things that can, but there’s a lot of things that go right too- AND a lot of things you learn.
I am THE most impatient person on the planet. I’m the first to admit it. I’m also intolerant of things I don’t agree with/believe in, so this was my biggest hurdle. Matt and I BARELY knew each other before we did this- which is both good and bad. Good because we spent the first year or two learning about each other and dead set extending that honeymoon phase as long as possible. Bad because he didn’t know what annoyed me (and vice versa). But we did it. And you can too. Patience is *KEY* in a Long Distance Relationship. You’ve got to remember that eliminating the physical element means a LOT gets lost in translation. Sometimes you’ll think your significant other is mad, when in actual fact they’re upset (and likely lonely). The time that drags out between seeing each other also means that patience wears thin. Emotion turns to anger and you just need to be OPEN and honest with each other about how and what you’re feeling.
Again- not a hugely empathetic person (Matt will be pissing himself right now). Following on from patience- you WILL argue. You can’t avoid it and you can absolutely not ‘hold it in’. If you’re like me, and you like people to be open and abrupt- TELL them. And when shit does hit the fan, know how and when to apologise. Little things go a long way- like admitting that you’re aware you hurt their feelings and you’re sorry. You’ll need to bite your tongue on more than one occasion and you’ll need to apologise a lot. But it’s worth it. 100% worth it.
Biggie. The likelihood is high that the entire reason you’re in a LDR is because you/your SO is doing something amazing for themself. You’ve got to learn that this likely their entire life ‘plan/goal/dream’ and sometimes you’re going to have to step back and allow them to do it. While sometimes I’d encourage putting yourself first, you’ll know in yourself whether this is the time to do so or not. (HINT: mine was not).
4) COMMUNICATION and ROUTINE
The most helpful piece of advice I can give you on your LDR journey is to set a routine and communicate if anything changes. I’m not encouraging you to have 18 alarms for when you send your boyfriend an ‘I miss you’ text, but schedule 20 minutes at the beginning or end of your day/week that is for them, just like you would do if they were home. Try to avoid going days without speaking and knowing what each other is up to- all this does is allow room for misjudgment in feelings and a hint of betrayal. Small things help too- Matt and I frequently have a TV series that we watch ‘together’ (meaning we press play at the same time and angrily argue over the storyline), or watch movies that each other haven’t seen yet. Keep them a part of your life in snippets and constantly update them on what’s going on.
LDR’s do get easier. I promise you. Time heals all wounds including wounds that aren’t wounds (…). You eventually start knowing when you’ll see each other next and making more and more exciting plans. You’ll also find things to distract yourself from the harder times (FOR EXAMPLE- I threw a huge ‘GALENTINES’ bash this year to avoid the hurt of Valentines Day).
I’m lucky- I love being on my own. But if you’re not used to that, you’re going to have to learn. The best thing about a LDR is that you become more in love with a) yourself and b) your friends. My friends were GODSEND’s the first time I came home from a visit to LA. I was absolutely beside myself (not even an exaggeration) and somehow they just knew not to ask, not to sympathise, but just to get on with life as normal. In short, I’ve had some of the best years of my life friend-wise because I rely a lot more on them. But in addition, I’m also a lot more in touch with myself and since meeting Matt I’ve managed to start my own business and leave my FT job to work for myself. Independence= killin it.
And finally- on the topic of friends. I know a lot of you aren’t about to embark on a LDR or won’t need to ever- but so much of this applies to your friendships too.
Since leaving high school, almost 75% of my friends (unconfirmed statistic) have moved cities or countries for study or travel. I miss them a fuck load, to put it simply- but I know that when I do eventually see them, I treasure the time more than anything, and I know (and they know) that we’re there for each other whenever we need to be.
Stay in touch, visit when you can and remind them how much they mean to you as often as possible. Friends are few and far between once you leave study, so make sure the ones you’ve got are your golden gals (and guys).
I’m so excited to finally be able to share this post with you because ultimately it means we did it. We made it through 2 years, 11,000kms, 9 trips, a handful of tears and a lot of accomplishments between the two of us. Shits about to change and that’s both exciting and terrifying, but as one door closes another opens (that’s the overused cliché, right?).
Lots and lots of love.