On the 13th April me and Mark will have been together for 3 years. But in all that time we have never spent more than 7 weeks in the same place. We’ve been in a long distance relationship since we first started going out.
I’m currently living nearly 650 km from the love of my life and I can’t even begin to tell you how heartbreaking that is.
Learning how to cope while being in a long distance relationship is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
As we start to make plans for our future, I’m breathing a little a sigh of relief. I can start to see a very faint light that signals the end of the tunnel.
In all this time I’ve learnt a lot of lessons about long distance relationships that may be of some help…
Communication becomes all that more important.
When you’re only form of communication is through technology it becomes so easy to just stop communicating. I’ve learnt the hard way that a break down in communication will always end badly.
When you’re arguing with someone through a phone it becomes so easy just to hang up and hold onto that grudge. When you feel forgotten and lonely it’s so tempting just to curl up in bed and wallow in self pity. Neither of those will do you any good.
Learn to voice how you’re feeling and what you need in order to change that. But also learn to listen, understand and compromise.
Always have something to look forward to.
I never say goodbye without having the next time we’ll meet planned. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll rely on the knowledge it’s only x amount of days until you see each other. It gives you something to look forward to on those days when it’s really hard. And planning what you want to do together is a surprising amount of fun.
We put aside nights where we know we’re both free to have our own kind of ‘date night.’ Watching a TV series at the same time or just an extra long Skype call. Making time for each other is important in any relationship but even more so in a long distance one.
Make an effort to remind your other half you’re thinking of them.
When I’m missing Mark I tell him. He sends me flowers when he knows I’ve had a rough day. We tag each other in dog videos on Facebook. They may seem like small things but they’re so important. Letting your other half know you’re thinking of them means everything when you can’t just turn up at their door*. It reminds you why you’re doing this and makes the hard times worth it.
Fill your time with the things you love.
Being in a long distance relationship is the perfect excuse to invest in some me time. Experiment with your cooking. Head to the gym like you said you would. Spend time learning new hobbies, or rediscovering old ones. Not only will it keep you busy but it’ll give you plenty of things to talk about. You might even persuade them to try it with you when you’re next together!
Build relationships with the people around you – you’ll need them.
I can’t even begin to thank my housemates for how much I relied on them. The sheer amount of times I cried on them, ranted at them or just used them as a distraction is crazy.
Having a good network of people around you is so important. They’ll be a much needed shoulder to lean on. When you’re other half makes plans you can’t be involved in, instead of sulking, see it as the perfect excuse for a girls night.
It’s not just friends but family as well. My sister went through a similar situation and nothing beats a bit of motherly advice. During my time at university me and Mark only got to see each other one weekend every month, and while that totally sucked, it meant I had a lot more free weekends to head home.
You will get jealous and that’s ok.
I recently found the quote, ‘I’m jealous of people who get to see you everyday,’ and I think that sums it up perfectly. Jealousy will always be part of a relationship but even more so when it’s long distance. The knowledge that another person is spending time with your other half doing all the things you wish you could is enough to drive you crazy.
Although it’s hard, you need to accept its ok that you feel this way – it’s normal. It’s also important to voice this to each other, sometimes a little reassurance is all you need.
Don’t try to make every visit perfect.
I used to get so obsessed with making every single second we we’re together perfect. In reality it just caused me to stress out, get upset and achieve the exact opposite. Being in a long distance relationship means the time you spend together is special. But special doesn’t equal perfect.
I’ve learnt that days spent in bed eating take out are just as special as nights spent at a fancy restaurant. I can now even embrace the arguments we get into. Trust me when I say making up is so much better in person.
When you can’t see each other for months at time, even just being in the same room is special. So nowadays I’ll let him watch an arsenal game without a fuss, while I binge watch Grey’s Anatomy. At the very least it’s good practice for when we do live together!
Know that the end is in sight.
My friends often found it strange when, at the age of 20, we we’re already planning our lives together. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to sustain a long distance relationship without knowing you’ll eventually be in the same place.
We don’t have any solid plans. It’s just about being able to talk openly and honestly about where we want to live and how our lives will fit together.
You can’t be apart indefinitely, that just won’t work. But no matter how long it takes, knowing everyday I’m closer to being able to come home to him, is a massive comfort.
Long distance relationships are hard. But, as long as the person is the right one, they are so worth it. And never forget you’re not the only one going through this and you definitely won’t be the last.
*Mark did just turn up at my door once and it was literally the best surprise I’ve ever had!