How I Survive Being in a Long-Distance Relationship
I’ve mentioned before how I travel back and forth to Rio De Janeiro Brazil to visit my boyfriend. He works for the government and is there for a two-year job assignment. Yep, you read that right, two years!
At this point, we’ve made it through most of it. We now have a year and a half under our belts and he’s coming back by Summer 2018.
When we first met, I knew he was going to Rio. But that seemed so far away. I didn’t even know if we were still going to be dating in the summer.
When he left for Rio, we had only been dating for about 5 months. We met in January and he left in early June. So that was also a challenge because we were still in the “beginning” of our relationship and it’s not like we had a ton of history together that would help us cope with long distance. It was completely new.
Suffice it to say, even though we’ve been long distance for the majority of our relationship, we’ve made it through, and we’ve grown closer, even though it does really suck that we can’t see each other all the time.
So, I thought I would share some things that we do in case it’s helpful for those of you out there that are in a long-distance relationship and trying to figure out how to make it work. Take it from me—it is possible to have a fulfilling long-distance relationship! Here are some things we did and still do to survive long distance and still be happy:
We make an effort to understand each other’s needs for communication.
Matt is a big texter. Me, not so much. I’m more of a phone talker. He’s not. So how the heck do we make long distance work when we both favor different ways of communicating? Well, in short, I became much more used to text and Matt is now a world class marathon phone talker. We both evolved our communications styles so that we could give the other person what they need. Facetime is our best friend. Being in a long-distance relationship really affects me. I like to actually physically see the person I’m dating or else it doesn’t feel real to me. Matt and I Facetime every day and usually more than once. For him, I don’t think he needs to have the Facetime as much as I do. For me, it feels less real if I can’t see him. Anyways, the development of Facetime has probably helped long-distance relationships everywhere.
We schedule “date” nights.
We realize that even though it’s long distance doesn’t mean that the relationship takes less of a time commitment. Matt and I both talk every single day but sometimes, our schedules get the best of us and we don’t have time to really have long and deep conversations, or what I consider “quality time” together. So, when we notice that our schedules are out of control, we literally schedule time to talk and set aside a few hours where we know we’ll both be able to sit down and focus on each other for a nice long chat. We make each other a priority and we know that even though the other person isn’t there physically, it still important to make time for each other, just like we would if we weren’t long-distance.
We always have a plan to see each other.
This is a big one and I think it makes a huge difference: There is never a time when I don’t know when I’m next going to see Matt. And that brings me a lot of comfort. Once Matt and I faced the fact that he would be overseas for 2 years, I thought to myself, I can’t do long-distance. I’ll feel lonely, our relationship will stagnate, I’ll have anxiety, etc. So before he left, we devised a plan for the two years that I knew I could live with. In my mind, I wanted to be able to see him every month. And since Brazil is pretty far away, I wanted it to be at least a week every month. So we decided that one of us would travel to see each other every other month, so one month, I’d come visit, and the next month, he’d come visit. We are both very fortunate because we have the means to travel that frequently and also, we have the time off and the ability to work remotely so thankfully we’re able to make this travel schedule work. But the point is, we went into this long-distance journey with a plan. Our objective was to see each other once a month, and we have made that a reality. We plan out our trips in advance and book tickets as early as possible. We make seeing each other our top priority.
We always know where the other person Is.
Matt and I are always in contact via phone or text. We keep each other informed of our schedules, just as we would if we were living together. For example, if I’m not coming home after work, I tell him I’m going to happy hour or whatever. He tells me when he’s going out with friends or to the movies. It’s not because we don’t trust each other or because we’re trying to keep tabs on the other, it’s just a way of knowing what the other person is doing, so that one person isn’t left wondering “What aren’t they answering my text?” and feeling ignored. I personally really hate the feeling of being left out. So the fact that I pretty much always know where Matt is, even though he lives on a different continent, helps me feel more included in his life and not as distant.
We talk about our concerns.
I think this last one probably applies to all relationships, not just long-distance ones, but I do think that there can be more of a tendency in long-distance relationships to brush problems under the rug and not address them. A friend of mine who was in a long-distance relationship once told me she hesitated to voice her concerns about stuff when her boyfriend was visiting because they only saw each other for a short period of time she didn’t want to fight during that time.
While it’s never fun to fight, it is important to address conflict head on and not brush it under the rug. If you’re both unwilling to sort it out or come to a solution or understanding that you are both are okay with, then that could be a clue that the relationship may not be working out in general. I used to be really conflict avoidant, and one thing that Matt has taught me is that conflict doesn’t have to be bad. What matters is how you “fight.” When Matt and I disagree, we talk about it and really focus on trying to understand the other person’s point of view, rather than trying to get our own points of view across to the other person. It’s a subtle difference, but I think it really matters.
And last, but not least:
We always say goodnight.
Matt is the last person I speak to every night before I go to bed and his texts are the first things I see when I wake up in the morning. We rarely go to bed without saying goodnight to each other.
In the end, long-distance sucks no matter what strategies you have in place. I’m super proud of how Matt and I have handled our long-distance stint and I hope some of this can be helpful to those of you out there trying to make your own long-distance relationships work!