How To Make It Work: Long Distance Love
Today is my two-year anniversary and no, I will not be going out for a candle-lit dinner, be given a bunch of roses, or be having hot sex by a roaring fire place for hours (unfortunately).
You see, I'm in a long distance relationship, a very long distance relationship, a halfway-across-the-world relationship, and after eighteen months I feel like I'm kinda qualified to give some advice on the subject.
The most frequent question I'm asked (right after the usual, "OMG I could NEVER do that!") is, "How do you make it work?" So I thought I'd divulge my top five tips to having a strong and healthy long distance love.
1. Communication is EVERYTHING
Communication should be everything in any relationship whether it’s long distance or not, but when you can't see each other for more than six months at a time you have to be willing to put in the extra effort. Try to call most nights, it's hard if you're in opposite time zones but even a quick chat before one of you goes to bed is a lot nicer than just seeing texts on a screen. Sometimes it can feel like you're in a relationship with your phone so having a FaceTime session (even if it's a pixelated af version of your partner) to hear their voice and see their face can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.
2. Have Your Own Hobbies & Projects
Again, this should be the norm for any couple but putting your focus onto something else can make a huge difference. One of my biggest fears is my relationship becoming my whole identity so I make a conscious effort to do everything I would be doing if I was single anyway (career and hobby wise). The spare time that would be spent on dates or in bed together can be put to furthering your career, or learning a new skill, or getting to read that book you bought for $30 that you got ten pages into and haven't touched since.
3. Create a Solid Support Network
Your squad, your girl gang, your team - whatever you want to call them, a group of loyal friends can make getting through the tough days a whole lot easier. For example; instead of being at home tonight crying into a tub of ice-cream, feeling sorry for myself and watching a tragic rom-com à la Bridget Jones, I'm going out for a curry with a good friend who I haven't seen in a couple of months. I also force my best friends to have sleepovers with me when I'm feeling lonely and want to complain about my relationship but I buy them pizza so they don't mind.
4. Set a Date To Look Forward To
The absolute hardest time my partner and I have ever had was when we didn't have a date booked to see each other. He was meant to be flying over to Australia and the month he was supposed to come back kept getting pushed further and further away. The disappointment every time he told me it was going to be a few more weeks never got easier and it did very nearly break us. Your brain is a whole lot happier with a goal to work towards rather than just a "maybe" time in the future that dangles in front of your face teasing you.
So as soon as you can, book the flight, take the time off work and lock it in Eddie. As excited as a kid waiting for Christmas, as soon as the date was decided on time flew by.
5. Bucket Loads of Trust
A long distance relationship would be more exhausting than it already is if there was no trust involved. At the end of the day trust = respect and if you can't believe that your person went out for a night out on the town with their friends and went home to bed alone then maybe you shouldn't be with them anyway. Of course it's natural to have worries but living in different countries you have to be willing to put it all out on the table and answer any questions your partner has about the people in their life.
Oh and one last thing - look towards the future. Don't live for it because then a whole bunch of years will have passed you by without you appreciating them, but just acknowledge that one day you will move in together. You will go to the movies on Tuesday nights and go for brunch on Sundays and bicker about the dishes not being done and walk hand in hand into the party, together, as a couple, and all of this (including being alone on your anniversary) will be worth it.
Image by Maudie Osborne