We Survived a Long-Distance Relationship
By: Reeve Currie
Long-distance relationships appear glamorous in movies. Giggly phone conversations, flirty texts, flying miles to visit each other. The couple almost always survives the distance and it never lasts too long; they’re married by the end of the movie. I never thought I’d be in a long-distance relationship (but then again, who does imagine themselves dating someone who lives in a different state?!). But, just two weeks into our relationship, my boyfriend Tyler decided to switch colleges and suddenly we were separated by the eight hour drive from Minnesota to Chicago.
Our first six months of being apart were incredibly hard. We were just getting to know each other as more than friends and figure out what it meant to be in a relationship that was built on honesty and vulnerability. That was made a whole lot harder by being in completely different communities, where the closest we got to “face-to-face” was a Skype date once a week. Throw into the mix a close friend of his dying, a growing anxiety disorder for me, and a lot of family turmoil. It was no picnic.
We survived those long six months and I swore I would never do long-distance again.
He moved back home six months later and we enjoyed a few years of living only fifteen minutes away from each other – meeting for lunch or a quick dinner, spending weekends at the beach or exploring the State Fair. A sudden change of events brought along another time apart starting last summer and lasting until March. If anything, our second time apart was even harder. We had grown so close together that, although our relationship was stronger, being apart made us more lonely.
When your significant other is also your best friend, distance is hard.
I would lie in bed at night, curled up in his sweatshirt, missing his warm hugs and boyish grin. We were working and I was still in school and our days were busy and fast-paced. We’d end up collapsed on our individual beds in our individual rooms in our individual towns, too exhausted to have much of a conversation. Well Tyler didn’t need as much communication every day to feel close to me, I could easily feel disconnected if we weren’t able to share details from our days.
Over time we came up with some guidelines that helped us stay connected, no matter the miles.
1 – In a long-distance relationship where you are often telling feelings over texts, you HAVE to communicate and be honest. No matter what you are feeling, whether it is about something in your day or it has to do with the other, don’t hide it. Don’t drop hints and then moan to yourself when he just doesn’t get it.
2 – Tell each other what you need – and be willing to work to make the other person feel loved and connected. For me, this meant telling Tyler I didn’t want to go all day without texting and that I needed to hear him say that he missed me. While he did miss me, he wasn’t very vocal about it which made me think that he was happy and content with being far away from me. Tyler liked to hear little mundane details from my day (what I ate for lunch, what movie I was watching) to help him feel like he was there with me.
3 – After a disagreement, SHOWER each other in love. When you are apart you don’t get make-up kisses or cuddles and you don’t get to see the love in each other’s eyes. Those things now have to be communicated by words. Say a lot of “I love you.” Say it often.
4 – Set some sort of routine for the day/week/month. For our relationship, we would end most days on the phone – sometimes ten minutes, other times an hour. We would skype once a week and it worked out to have one person visit the other at least once a month. It was very helpful at the end of a visit to know exactly when we would see each other next… there was always something to look forward to that way.
Distance relationships are HARD, dang it. And it doesn’t help when everyone around you is holding hands and going on elaborate dates. Remember not to compare your relationship with anyone else’s and focus on staying connected with your best friend. We made it through long-distance and our relationship is STRONGER because of it! We can tell almost right away if the other person is disconnected or feeling off, and we’re not afraid to tell each other what we need. And it sure helps that now we can cuddle after an argument!
Meet Reeve Currie
Reeve Currie is a twenty-something writer who is passionate about women, daily life, and cats. A lover of books, yoga, and coffee, you can find Reeve writing on her blog or her second obsession, Instagram. (Otherwise she is probably trying to bring the plants she keeps killing back to life or cuddling with her tattooed man.)
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