Long distance, whether it’s with a close friend or a significant other, doesn’t have to be all that bad. Most recently, I’ve been in a long distance romantic relationship with my boyfriend, and we still have over a year until we’ll see each other in person again, and I think it’s actually strengthened our bond. Here’s how we got here.
1. Realize It’s Not the End of the World
With smartphones, video chat, and apps, staying in touch is easier than ever. Also, this gives you a lot of room to grow and have independence outside of your relationship (which is a good thing).
2. Make a Plan
Coordinate times when both of you are free (keep timezones in mind if you’re really far apart) as soon as both of you get a feel for your schedules. Realize that this might change as time goes on depending on life circumstances and how long the distance lasts, but it’s still helpful to have a general plan.
3. Accept that the Dynamic has Changed
I have to be real here, as long as you’re physically distant from someone, your relationship won’t be the same as it was before. And this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a fact of life. Accepting this keeps you from having unrealistic expectations or from refusing to grow in your personal life. No, you more than likely won’t see or talk to them as much as you did when you lived closer to one another, and you’re more than likely not going to be able to make up for the lost time either. But this time doesn’t have to be “lost”. You can use this time to make shifts in your own life that are positive and will make you be better off than you were before.
4. Utilize Texting and Communication Apps
Sometimes our lives get busy and we can’t do so many of the calls and virtual meet-ups that we’d like because we don’t have the time to or because we aren’t in the best headspace to communicate deeply. This is where texting and apps can fill in the blanks. It takes two seconds to send a positive and uplifting text. My boyfriend and I took this a step further and downloaded the app, Agape, which sends us thought-provoking questions (ranging from serious topics to prompts for funny personal stories) to answer every day.
5. Get Creative
Now is the time to let your creativity shine! Don’t think your phone calls, virtual hang-outs, or distance dates have to be boring. Try to think of ways to make them fun, even from a distance. From themed movie nights, to games, to prompts from communication apps, you have so many opportunities to show your friend or partner how much you care by making the effort to keep things interesting.
6. Have an End Date to Close the Distance (Even Just Temporarily)
Long distance is no joke sometimes, but knowing that I’ll see my boyfriend again is like a light at the end of the tunnel. Also, unless you’ll only be distant less than a month (two weeks honestly), I highly suggest not counting days for a countdown. It honestly makes the time feel so long. If you’ll be distant for more than a year, I suggest grouping two or three months together and making “checkpoints” because, in that situation, even counting months can seem like a lot.
1. Be Afraid to Cut Conversations Short
Whether it’s because we had a bad day, we have a lot on our plate, we didn’t get enough sleep, or we have some personal issues going on, sometimes we aren’t our best selves. Combine this with a schedule and a feeling of obligation to stick to that schedule perfectly and we can easily get a heated argument and/or a poorly thought out exchange of words. Trust me, if you’re on a call and you start getting the feeling that this isn’t the best time to chat (a tell-tale sign is you or the other person might seem extra grumpy or angry) it’s way better to respectfully call it a night.
2. Jump to Conclusions
It’s really easy to mistake words someone says if you can’t see them in person, or to get the wrong idea from a picture posted on social media. Trust in the person you knew before the distance. It’s okay to have concerns and to voice them, but give people a genuine chance to explain, especially if they’ve never given you reason to doubt them before. If a pattern of behavior continues, then you might want to become more investigative (note: I didn’t say you should blow up on the person or jump to intense anger here, that’s not helpful) and see if something else might really be going on.
3. Over Communicate
Texting is great, especially with distance (that’s why I put it in the do’s list). But there can definitely be too much of this good thing. If you text every detail of your day, you will have nothing to talk about when you connect for longer periods of time. You’ll also be devoting a HUGE chunk of your personal time to texting, when you could be doing so many other things that are way more fun, productive, and enriching.
I know long distance can be hard, but you can make it through this! Long distance is a great opportunity to stay connected to someone you care about while pursuing your own path. Long distance can also teach you and your friend or partner lessons that will strengthen your relationship even when the distance is closed.