No one wishes for a long distance relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes long distance relationships are inevitable, but there are things to do to make it through the tough times and become an even stronger couple.
Kyle and I were long distance for 4 years, and we know the difficulties that come with being so far apart. But we also know what it takes to be successful in a long distance relationship, because here we are, about to be married. We are proud to say we are long distance champs! **insert embarrassing high-five, but we don’t care, because one of our best tips for long distance couples is to not be afraid to be totally dorky together**
Jealousy is totally normal, and in most cases, inevitable. It is probably one of the most dangerous parts of being in a long distance relationship. If you let it, jealousy will eat away at the foundation you’ve built in your relationship, deteriorating all the joy and happiness you bring each other. Jealousy is toxic, but if it is normal, what do you do about it in your relationship?
DON’T worry when your significant other goes out with friends. For me, the hardest part of this wasn’t worrying that Kyle would be unfaithful, it was actually being jealous of his friends getting to spend time with him. I don’t mean I didn’t want him to have time with his friends. It was the fact that they were able to see him, talk to him, hear him laugh, and interact with him when I couldn’t. And, to be totally honest, there isn’t a magic fix for this kind of jealousy. But you can find comfort in the truth that this kind of jealousy is normal, even healthy. This kind of jealousy shows just how much you love the one you’re with, illustrates how deeply you care, and demonstrates your desire to be with them. So rather than worrying, find peace in your feelings. Because that kind of love is rare and it is precious.
DO go out with your own set of friends. Sometimes it’s hard to do things without the one you love, because you wish they were there with you. But don’t let that stop you from experiencing new things, making new memories, and getting to know new people. Someday, the long distance will end and you will finally have the opportunity to do all the things you want to do together, but until then you will have lots of opportunities to grow as an individual. Then, when you are no longer so far apart, you will have more stories to share, more ideas to discuss, and a deeper knowledge of who you are as a person.
The very first year Kyle and I were long distance, I was a freshman in college and didn’t have a car. That meant that he was always the one who had to come to visit me, which made time together that much more difficult to orchestrate. The following years were much easier, because once I had a car, we would visit each other every other weekend, sharing the drive and the cost of travel. This way, we both showed how much we were willing to sacrifice to make our long distance relationship work, and we were able to demonstrate just how deeply we cared for one another.
DON’T blame one another when you can’t make a visit work. You have to know that they want to see you just as badly as you want to see them, and fighting over the fact that you won’t get to see each other doesn’t make the time until your next visit any easier, instead it adds extra pressure and stress that can cause any relationship to buckle under the strain.
DO make sure you are both putting in an equal amount of effort to make the long distance relationship work. Because it will take work, more work than many people want to put in. But, I promise, it will be so worth the work. Because when you’ve put the time and effort into a relationship, it makes the relationship that much richer and the couple that much stronger.
One thing that makes being far apart feel not quite so far is communication. The struggle with long distance relationships is not being able to share your day with one another. But what helped Kyle and I so much was finding a way to do just that: share the day. When we were long distance, we would text every chance we got. As soon as we got up, we would text a good morning message, then we would text in between meetings, classes, work shifts, and outings. Our schedules didn’t match up exactly, so there were often long stretches between responses, but it made us feel connected all day long. Communication like this also keeps your loved one at the forefront of your mind, so you are still thinking of them and making them a priority.
DO find a way to communicate every single day, whether it is with writing letters, sending emails, texting, scheduling phone calls, or having Skype dates. Kyle and I would send pictures of things we saw or activities we were doing, just to give each other a glimpse of what our lives were like that day. The visual made it feel more like we were there together.
DON’T get upset if your significant other doesn’t respond right away or if you can’t seem to find the time in your schedules to Skype. Schedules change, and it isn’t always easy, but that’s the whole point! Relationships are never easy, so every difficulty you face together strengthens your bond, making you that much more ready for when you are finally together and tackling new challenges side by side.
This is probably the most important advice Kyle and I could give any couple, whether they are in a long distance relationship or not: the little gestures are the key to a truly successful relationship and a stupendous, wonderful, shout it out loud, do a little dance, meant to be, dream come true, can’t live without you love.
DO say “I miss you.” It doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you dependent. Those teeny, tiny, itty, bitty, little words have a big impact. Some people worry that saying it out loud or writing it down makes it more real, therefore making you more likely to feel sad. In fact, that is exactly what Kyle said when we were first apart. But we found that saying it and hearing it said felt so good. Those words brought us closer together and helped us remember we weren’t alone in missing someone. In my experience, it made me feel special. I was missed. Someone missed me and wished I was there with them. I was loved.
DO always be thinking of special things to do for your significant other. Kyle is amazing at surprises. It is one of his many special talents, along with holding his breath for a very long time and being able to talk for hours to absolutely anyone he comes into contact with. One of my favorite things he did for me when we were apart was send me songs. He would text or email me links to songs, all with special meanings. Sometimes he wouldn’t add any explanation, the song was enough, or sometimes he would write something really sweet to go along with the song. In our third year of long distance, when it felt like we would never be able to just be together, he sent me a link to Canon in D and told me that he had listened to that song and imagined me walking down the aisle to him someday. His simple, sweet, little gesture made my entire day, put a permanent smile on my face, and reminded me that long distance wouldn’t last forever.
DON’T be afraid to be cheesy. Face it, sometimes love is cheesy. Be dorky! Dance around in the parking lot, throw your head back and laugh, cry every time you say goodbye, skip down the sidewalk, and love with your whole heart and without fear.
DO talk about the future. It’s fun to dream and wish and hope for the future! And when being far apart gets really hard, sometimes you need to escape to the thoughts of what ‘someday’ will be like. Dream together, talk about what you want out of life and out of the years ahead. This not only takes away the sting of being long distance for the time being, but actually strengthens your relationship by allowing you to really get to know your loved one’s deepest desires and greatest hopes.
DO travel to see each other as much as possible. You know you love someone when you are willing to drive for 4 hours to be able to spend just 2 hours with them. And some of the greatest memories you make together will be the times you spent together amidst long stretches apart. Because those brief times together are even more precious because they are rare. That is one thing you may miss when you finally are no longer long distance: the pure appreciation for every day, every hour, every second spent with the one you love.
DON’T let distance tear you apart. Let it lift you up, let it make you grow as a person, let it make you stop to realize how much you love the one you’re with. Never let distance win, because if you are right for each other, you can truly make it through anything, as long as you never give up on one another, never take each other for granted, and are always willing to prove your love in big and small ways.