Anyone who has ever loved probably learned the hard way that all relationships take work. This is especially true in a long distance relationship. I know a little…well, a lot about long distance relationships. See, I am in kind of an extreme long-distance relationship. My husband and I got married in December 2013. We were supposed to move to Spain together after he got stationed there for his next tour of duty (he’s an officer in the Navy). He deployed in February 2014 with his ship, but due to scheduling conflicts with the Navy, I didn’t get to Spain until the end of March that year. Then, because of some obscure rule and botched paperwork, we discovered that I wasn’t able to stay in Spain longer than 90 days. Long story short, after my trip to Spain, he was able to come visit me for 10 days in August 2014, and I haven’t seen him since. : ( I won’t see him again until July of 2015…hopefully.
Obviously, my situation is not typical, but many people find themselves wondering if a long-distance relationship is really worth it or wondering how to make them work. Trust me: if you love someone and truly believe they are your soul mate, you can get through a period of doing things long-distance. Here are a few things my husband and I do that have worked pretty well so far at keeping our love alive while we are apart:
- We focus on the future when we can be together. Yes, it sucks that it’ll be another X number of days/weeks/months until we can actually hug each other (among other things), but instead of dwelling on something we can’t change, we talk about all the things we want to do once we’re together. We’re planning trips, places to go together, what kind of house we want to live in, where he’s going to ask for his next duty station to be, etc. Planning our future together helps us keep things in perspective. I know I will see him before 2015 is over. We will have the rest of our lives to be together, so we can definitely get through this year.
- We try to communicate in at least some fashion everyday. He has T-Mobile, which means he can text internationally most of the time. We also use Skype when our schedules match up. Then there are Facebook messages and posts. Email is another thing we rely on when he’s deployed. Basically, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Many times his schedule prevents him from responding to my messages right away, but I know they brighten his day. We send mini love notes to each other periodically, reminding each other of qualities we admire in each other, why we love each other, etc. It takes work, but all important things do.
- We have separate lives, but we bring them together when we talk. I tell him about stuff that I’m doing (like my new job, classes I’m taking, my latest exercise routine, what my family’s up to, etc.) and he tells me what he’s doing (on his ship, with his roommates, places he’s visited, etc.). We take an active interest in what the other is doing. We also keep up with current events and pop culture stuff to talk about. We don’t always have the same views, so we can usually get a good discussion going. We try to watch the same shows/movies on Netflix and talk about our opinions, too. Not every conversation has to be all “I love you”/”I miss you”/”I’m so lonely”! That gets old! Be sad about being apart, but move on!
- We are always, ALWAYS honest with each other. I’ll admit that I get insecure sometimes about the strength of our relationship. What if he meets someone else that he’s attracted to? What if we grow too far apart? It really helps to talk about our feelings. He gets scared too. It brings us closer because we can remind each other how much we love each other and are committed to making this work. We also don’t replace each other. It’s not a good thing to replace your significant other with a “best friend” of the same gender/sexual orientation. If I had a male best friend I was sharing everything with because talking to my husband is sporadic a lot of the time, eventually I’ll be spending more time with this guy just because it’s easier. It’s a slippery slope, so be careful. Having friends is fine, but your significant other should always be your best friend because they are the person you love the most. If you don’t feel this way, maybe you should break up? Also avoid bad situations, like getting blackout drunk or grinding with random people at the club. Drinking to forget how much you miss your significant other will NOT make you feel better and could lead to you doing something you’ll regret.
I could go on and on about long-distance relationships, but this will get you started. Whether your significant other lives in the next town, across the country, or in another country, communication, being able to enjoy your life by yourself, and being honest with each other no matter what will help you get through your time apart.
Below are some articles with additional tips. I don’t agree with everything, but you can always choose the tips that fit your relationship. Please share if you have any other ideas!
http://www.askmen.com/dating/heidi_100/102_dating_girl.html (this one is more geared towards men, but still has a lot of valid points)
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles]/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net