Strap on Your Seatbelts
Until recently, my boyfriend and I were in a long-distance relationship (LDR). The whole thing was very sudden. The transition was difficult, and not just because I was away from my home and comfort zone, but because I was transitioning to a new proximity with him as well—we're kind of unofficial Olympic hand-holders. We didn’t have much time to prepare, and neither of us knew what to expect. What I can say is that you should do whatever research you feel you need to do. Certainly don't prepare to hate the duration (though comfort food does its part). Rather, look into easing the transition process. Geographical distance doesn’t have to be the end of the world—or your relationship! Below are some tips that I wish I had had before our journey.
Establish ground rules. Your relationship will change, for better or worse, while you’re apart. Of course, the basis of any relationship is trust. There may be temptations along the way, but you’ve survived them so far, right?
Be level-headed when making judgment calls about your relationship. At least apart you can have all the physical space you need.
Prioritize. Don’t feel sorry for working or studying. Be independent but respectful of your significant other’s ventures, too.
Establish a schedule. It’s a time-saver, and it also gives you something to look forward to throughout the day or week.
Take advantage of options outside of social media (Facebook, Google+, and Twitter). You also have the bread and butter of fairly direct communication—texting and calling. Good morning texts go a long way. Now, you don’t have to send smoke signals, but you can also use more creative methods like online forums: For example, Between (an app for couples) or Snapchat (try sending drawings or funny faces or clips of your daily walk to work). Skype, Facetime, and Oovoo are all helpful when you want to videochat. When we were apart, my boyfriend and I used Facetime like college kids eat Ramen.
Support each other in times of both need and triumph! It's a great bonding experience to talk about both the quirks of our days and the losses we experienced during personal trials.
While you're apart, life's seemingly mundane things can be interesting conversation starters. It was fun to tell my boyfriend about the differences in supermarkets, public transit, the locals, and even the rain.
Be creative with sharing your affections! Try snail mail! Send jars of candy or a t-shirt with your scent.
Arrange visits as often as is feasible. If you have yet to meet (online dating, etc.), then plan when and how to meet!
Fret not! It’s natural to let the worry and anxiety of separation overcome you, sometimes. Worrying, distrust, or blame don't change the fact that you’re not physically together. Instead, focus on preserving your routine and strengthening your communication with your significant other. Try to view the distance as proof you two can weather life’s storms.
Acknowledge and adjust your expectations once you settle into your new routine. For example, when my boyfriend and I Facetimed each night, I felt that for some reason I had to be refreshing company in order for him to remain interested, since I had a proximity deficiency. I put a lot of effort into looking nice for our video dates. While it's can be fun to play dress-up for a Skype date, it isn't necessary to change who you are for the sake of shaking things up. Be stronger in how you communicate by just being yourself—discuss intimate subjects and feelings and share the ups, downs, and in-betweens. Plan for the future! It may be difficult and uncomfortable, but right now the distance is just a fact of life. If you’re really meant to be, what’s the time apart when you’re looking at the rest of your lives?
Keep your love alive by doing activities together! Try a new gutbuster workout, watch films simultaneously, read a book together, try sending each other clever love coupons, try taking a compatibility test or the MBTI, take a virtual vacation, prepare the same dinner recipe, find apps to play together, do madlibs, or track the weather and send a thoughtful text.
Remain positive! Absence makes the heart grow fonder! You always have something to look forward to in an LDR, seeing as communication can be strained—and then intensified in ways.
Realize that distance is perspective—it’s good to take a step back. The distance encourages concentration on yourself, engaging in commitment, and it lets you practice everything you can’t wait to do well when you’re together—like learning to play the ukulele!