Long distance is HARD, there’s no arguing that. But just because you need to be in a long distance relationship, whether it’s because you’re traveling and your partner isn’t or you and your partner work or go to school in different states or even countries, it doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed! It just means you have to be willing to WORK.
My boyfriend, Lewis, and I met while working at a summer camp on Cape Cod in 2013. A lot has happened since then: We were long distance with him living in Norfolk, England and me living in Syracuse, New York. I moved to London and we were still kind of long distance but at least in the same time zone. We both moved to Boston. I went back to New York and he lived in Boston. And now finally we’re both in Boston again. It’s certainly been a journey but we’ve made it work.
It sucks to be in a relationship but not have someone to go on dates with… or to go to silly things like sorority formals with, or to walk you home at the end of a night out. But it’s not always all bad… and looking back, Lewis and I both credit those first four months we spent long distance, in between the end of camp and when I studied abroad in London, as when we really got to know each other the best. During that time, there were no distractions, all we were able to do was talk and get to know each other better than we already did. Here’s what else we did to make it work:
- Get creative with date nights: Just because you can’t actually go out to dinner and a movie doesn’t mean you can’t have dinner and a movie… This sounds super corny but it was probably the most important thing we did when we were apart. Every week we picked a movie neither of us had seen before and a night that we both had nothing going on and we Skyped each other while watching the movie. If you use headphones and split your computer screen between Skype and the movie, you can hear and see both your partner and the movie. It sounds silly but we both really looked forward to it and felt a little more connected each time we had a movie night. If you can’t commit to that long of a Skype session, try starting a series on Netflix that neither of you have seen before. We watched all six seasons of LOST while in different cities.
- Send some love: Sending mail overseas is insanely expensive, so we only did this once, but sending each other packages is a great way to stay connected. Especially if you and your partner are in different countries it’s nice to send some favorite things over. Homemade cookies, candy or location-specific food (Helloooo Cadbury chocolates), favorite magazines or books, a handwritten note, or a favorite T-shirt…literally anything, it’s the thought that makes it special (and who doesn’t love getting something in the mail??).
- Put it on the calendar: Having something specific to look forward to instead of dwelling on how much it sucks to be apart also helps the time go by a bit quicker. Plan your next visit! Take a weekend trip somewhere fun to catch up. If you’re partner has never been to your hometown, college, or new city plan out some favorite things to show them, or use their visit as an excuse to try a new restaurant or something touristy that you didn’t want to do alone. So much of our four months apart was spent getting excited about all the things he was going to show me in his hometown in England and planning what things we could do together in London.
- Be involved: Since Lewis and I met at summer camp we didn’t know any of each other’s friends from home or school. This doesn’t apply to all LDRs but for us trying to keep your partner in the loop with who, how and where you’re spending your time with was important to still feeling like we were involved in each other’s lives. Back at college in the fall, it was hard for my friends to understand why it was worth it to me to take on an LDR. All they saw were the challenging parts of it and they didn’t know my boyfriend so they didn’t really see any of the good parts about it. As soon as Lewis and I were able to meet each other’s friends everything started to click a little more. Obviously this isn’t easy in an LDR but anything you can do helps. If your roommate walks in when you’re Skyping introduce them! Whatever works.
- Keep living your life: This is the hardest one. Overcompensating by putting too much pressure on constant text-message updates, phone calls, or Skype sessions can turn something that should be fun and relaxing into stressful and all-encompassing. It is possible to talk too much. Putting your own life on hold, skipping out on nights out with friends, etc etc, can be a really easy trap to fall into. Making sacrifices is part of the deal you agreed to when taking on a long distance relationship, but know where to draw the line. Sometimes holding back on texting all day long is a good thing and means that in your phone or Skype conversations you’ll have more to talk about.