So you’ve weighed your options and decided to stay with your significant other during your travels – however long that may be.
Well first of all, prepare yourself mentally. A long distance relationship is not a sprint. It’s not even a marathon. Maintaining a long distance love is a veritable triathlon.
It’s tough. It has phases, some of which will be stronger than others. Sometimes you’ll want to quit, sometimes you’ll wonder how you got yourself into this and the whole time you have your eye on some far away finish line.
Unfortunately, a functioning long distance relationship doesn’t happen on its own. You have to put in the effort. But how much effort depends on what kind of couple you are.
I made it clear early on that I will never be the type of girlfriend who calls on Skype every day. I find it tedious and especially annoying due to our huge time difference. I never wanted my relationship to feel like a chore – like my daily Skype call was some errand I could check off every night.
But at the same time, compromise is key.
My boyfriend is big on communication. He needs to hear from me in someway regularly to feel connected.
So our compromise? I send an email or a Facebook message almost every day. Some days I feel overwhelmed at how much I have to tell him. And some days I just say “Hi, I’m really exhausted, I’ll write you more tomorrow.”
It’s also important to understand that some days are just going to be bad. Because words and pictures are never going to do your overseas adventure justice and your partner will never understand all the amazing things you’re seeing and experiencing.
Those are the days when I really start to feel the 6,000-mile separation. Is there a solution for this? No.
And you just have to be OK with that – accept this as another challenge, and accept that sometimes it’s OK to feel completely frustrated because the person you love is far away. Then talk about it with your partner. Chances are they are just as frustrated as you are, and you can help each other through it. Be patient and take things one day at a time.
You also have the advantage of technology on your side. Whether it’s through Facebook, email, Twitter or Skype, there are a million ways to help you stay in touch. And it’s always a bonus to actually see and hear your partner, even if it’s through a computer.
For example, last week I had the best online date of my life. My boyfriend and I are both basketball fans, so I woke up at 4 a.m. to watch our alma mater play in the NCAA tournament with him. No, it’s not the same as having dinner with him but it was the perfect way to feel connected for a few hours.
My last piece of advice?
Don’t accept that the romance is dead just because you aren’t face to face.
On Friday I walked into work to find a 3-page letter waiting for me on my desk. I happen to be dating a fellow writer, so we use that to our advantage. We both express ourselves much better in writing, and we quickly figured out that a hand written letter is worth waiting for (and it only costs $0.98 and 13 days for a letter to travel from New York City to Seoul).
I’ve also received care packages, gifts, and even flowers. While it’s definitely not important to spend money, it’s important to put in that extra effort to remind your partner that they are special and loved – even if it’s from far away.
And if money and time allow, have your partner visit you!
Or, meet each other somewhere fun for a vacation. This takes some planning, but having something to mutually look forward to is a huge motivator. And half the fun of a long distance relationship is the chance to visit your partner in a new place.
How do you cope with long distance love? Do you think it’s harder being the partner who leaves?