Let’s face it: long distance blows. It has its perks (i.e. independence, more time with friends and family, etc.), but when it sucks, it sucks. With my boyfriend 500 miles away, I can’t ask him to lunch randomly or invite him to be my plus one to a cocktail. But after almost two years of long distance-ing, I still get butterflies when he sends me cute texts and I find happiness in making little cards to send in the mail. Even though the comfort of having him around is no longer an option, we’ve managed to keep up a solid, healthy relationship despite the distance. I’ll be honest, it’s not easy for the faint of heart, but here are a few ways to stay strong.
1. Do you trust me?
This cannot be stressed enough: trust each other! It may be easier said than done, but a long distance relationship that stands on a rocky foundation leads either person (or both) to doubt and paranoia. That being said, honesty is the best policy. Trust can only be gained when both people practice honesty and transparency, leaving no room for doubt.
2. Snail mail
Every once in a while, it’s really nice to receive a hand-written letter or card from my boyfriend. It shows he took the time to write it, despite his hectic law school schedule. Physically writing the letters can also be incredibly therapeutic. Hint: the best mail comes in the form of care packages and presents.
3. The little things
Small acts of love are hard to execute when distance is put between two people, but that doesn’t mean they should stop. My boyfriend randomly orders food for me when I’m too busy to cook. The delivery always catches me off guard and I’m reminded of how incredibly thoughtful he is. Little acts of kindness can range from a bouquet of flowers to a Facebook wall post saying hi. Basically, anything that takes time and at least a little bit of thought.
4. Webcam it up
Almost all long distance couples can agree that video chat is the greatest technological invention of the 21st century. Maybe a Skype session everyday is a bit intrusive on two independent schedules, but some time should be put aside each week to sit down and really talk to each other. You get to see each other laugh and smile, making a conversation more like an actual conversation. Phone calls are great and definitely more convenient, but there’s something about seeing his face when I tell him about my day.
5. Don’t become that crazy girl/boyfriend
Resorting back to point #1, trust is so incredibly important. Once one person starts trying to take control, it’s all downhill from there. I’m not going to lie, I found myself becoming the crazy girlfriend at the beginning of our long distance trial. When my imagination took over with thoughts of his new urban chic girl friends, I honed in on my Facebook stalking skills and practically drove myself crazy with paranoia. Fortunately, I quickly realized how much more painful it was to unleash the fury at him and then wallow alone than to bite my tongue and force myself to bring up a happy topic in the conversation. If you’re still together, then they’ve chosen to be with you. Simple as that.
6. Talk about the future
Yikes! Kind of scary, but totally necessary. Long distance means a couple will endeavor a relationship beyond pre-existing comfort levels. A rough breakup can be avoided if a serious talk takes place. Are you serious enough to pursue a monogamous relationship despite the distance, or is it just not worth the emotional investment (and sometimes, it just isn’t)? Even though this can be an uncomfortable topic for some, it’s one that needs to be had before long distance starts.
7. Visit often
Travel means money, which isn’t always readily available for young people. However, you should try to see each other as often as possible. Future visits are exciting events to look forward to, and nothing beats that feeling when you see your significant other waiting for you at the airport or train station, exactly how you remember them. I try to see my boyfriend every few months, and I feel like that’s not enough. Holding hands resurfaces that warm, tingly feeling that fills my stomach and I am suddenly the happiest girl in the world.
8. Keep yourself busy
Long distance provides the perfect opportunity for independent growth. Spend more time with friends, building genuine relationships with people outside of your romantic life. Visit family on random weekends just because. Take up a hobby or enroll in a class. Years from now, you’ll thank yourself with or without your boy/girlfriend. Plus it allows for them to take time pursuing the same individual growth. And what’s better than sharing a new part of your life once you’re reunited?
Like I said, long distance isn’t the easiest; but when done right, it’s worth the emotional roller coasters, periods of longing to see each other, and spontaneous gifts or trips to see them. Because of long distance, I’ve been able to see how much more I value friendships, feel passion in pursuit of my dream career, and see myself become an independent young adult. As cheesy as it sounds, love overcomes the wait and the troubles when both people are equally invested in the relationship. If they’re worth it, they’re worth it.