Last January, I accepted a job offer in Ireland. I moved the summer after college graduation and spent a year being young and crazy abroad. A week after accepting this job offer, I met a guy. They say you find love when you least expect it, and they (whoever “they” are) are right. He was amazing and we were extremely compatible in every way, but the timing could not have been any worse. Neither of us ever expected to find ourselves in a long distance relationship, yet there we were – 3,000 miles apart and very happily in love. It was certainly not always easy, but being in a long distance relationship was a learning experience. After a year of successfully maintaining a relationship in different time zones, I consider myself an expert on the topic. Here are the five pieces of advice I’d give to anyone beginning a long distance relationship.
1. Find a routine that works for you both. If you are used to seeing your significant other regularly, becoming long distance can be a tough adjustment. It helps to agree on a routine before the change occurs. Establish how often you want to talk on the phone or Skype, and a time that will work for you both. Having this sort of consistency will help to reduce the stressful fights that can occur when you are trying to find a time to talk. Set aside time for each other, and stick to it.
2. Avoid having big talks through texting. Texting is a great resource- it helps you to quickly check in with your partner, send cute little messages, and generally chat in between your regular phone or Skype calls. One mistake that is easy to make, however, is having big talks through texting. If you are upset with your partner or need to discuss the state of the relationship, call your partner or wait until you see them in person (if it can wait). It is very difficult to convey tone and emotion via text message, and can therefore lead to misunderstandings and more fighting. Seeing your partner’s face and hearing their voice can sometimes make all the difference when you’re upset, so don’t settle for a texting conversation if you can avoid it.
3. Remember the positives. It is extremely important to focus on the positive aspects of your long distance relationship, and to realize how it is benefiting you both individually and as a couple. With your loved one far away, you have more time to develop a relationship with yourself. You have the best of both worlds- you can have the social life of a singleton by having girls’/guys’ nights with your friends as often as you’d like, but you also have the love and support of a significant other (though that significant other is not currently luring you into another tempting night of staying in and watching Netflix). You will miss your partner constantly, but think of your time in a long distance relationship as your time to explore yourself, and make the most of it. Try new hobbies, meet new friends, go on adventures- live a life you’ll be excited to talk about in your weekly Skype dates!
4. Keep growing as a couple. One of the hardest parts of being apart from your partner is feeling connected without seeing each other. It is important to continue to get to know each other so your relationship does not become stagnant. One of the easiest ways to feel connected is by constantly reminiscing on your time together in person, but you also need to make new memories as a long distance couple. Time is not standing still while you are apart, and you are both changing and evolving, so it’s crucial that your relationship keep growing and moving with you. Get creative- play games together online, tell secrets, send pictures (however innocent or naughty you prefer), share songs, get hooked on a TV show together. Don’t get stuck in the past- keep your love growing as your time apart progresses.
5. Have an end in sight. The most important advice anyone will give you about your long distance relationship is to have an end in sight. It’s very difficult to have a strong relationship when you don’t know if you’ll be apart for two months or two years. Having some idea of when you will physically be together will give you both a common goal and destination. It’s nearly impossible to maintain a long distance relationship forever, so make sure you have a talk about the duration of your long distance experience before you are apart. It is crucial that you are both on the same page and have a similar vision for your future as a couple.