If you’re reading this, I will assume it is for one of three reasons:
- You are in/about to enter into an LDR (what those of us in the know call a Long Distance Relationship) and are looking for advice, of which there will be plenty, so read on.
- You know me personally and you’re nosey af so the title of this blog has your gossip sensors flashing. I can assure you that there will also be an abundance of secret personal details about my relationship in this post, you can read on too.*
- You don’t know me, nor are you in a long distance relationship but you’ve found this blog post in some dark corner of the internet that you didn’t know existed, in which case, go home, you’re drunk.
Let’s not beat about the bush; long distance relationships suck. They are really, truly, heart-wrenchingly awful. I knew this before I got into one, and I can say it with just as much certainty now that I’m out of one. I wish I had come up with a way to make LDRs not suck, but alas. Instead, I have a few tried and tested ways to make them suck slightly less.
- Always have a special date in mind.
It doesn’t really matter what the date is; it could be the next time you visit each other, an event you’ve planned to attend together, or even the date you’ll be back together indefinitely. It also doesn’t really matter how far away the date is – just having something to look forward to and work towards will keep you both going and grounded in the world of real life relationships (as opposed to the world of phone screens, skype calls and facebook chat windows).
- Communication is key.
This is true of any relationship, but especially one spanning several hundred (or thousand) miles. You can’t give them a hug, you can’t bring them a cup of tea, and you can’t give them your sad ‘I was wrong please forgive me’ puppy eyes when you’ve done something stupid like suggesting that The Mighty Boosh just isn’t that funny. Never before has communication been so important.
You need to learn to be honest and direct in what you say without being tactless, which means figuring out how you actually feel and why you feel that way. So, you’re annoyed because they didn’t text you back but you saw them adding to their snapchat story so you know they’ve seen their phone – consider why that annoyed you. Perhaps it’s because you’re feeling lonely and you wish you could be a part of the awesome party that’s happening right at this very moment. Say that then. (Bonus points if you can say it in an understanding and non-confrontational way).
You have to say things at times when you’d usually show them – tell them you love them, tell them you’re sorry, tell them you miss them.
On top of being able to express yourself properly, you also need to respect the fact that the other person is still learning to do this as well, and maybe they’re not that good at it yet. This means that you also need to make an extra effort to listen to what they have to say and understand how they feel. You’re not the only one in this long-distance relationship, you know.
It’s hard, harder than it maybe should be, but it’s such a useful skill to learn and you’ll get your money’s worth when this relationship is no longer long-distance and you can communicate telepathically. (This can actually happen if you get good enough at it. No eyebrows.)
- Not every conversation you have has to be a Conversation with a capital C.
While the capital C Conversations are especially important when you go long-distance, so are the stupid, mundane, little C conversations. Tell them about your day, what you’re thinking about, what you’re worried about. Tell them about that cute dog you saw or that funny Youtube video you watched or that hilarious comment Sarah made. It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom – in fact, it’s essential that it isn’t, and the silly, every-day conversations are the perfect antidote to that.
- But too much communication is just that: too much.
I know I was just raving on about how important communication is, but personally I’d advise against such rules as, ‘call me every. Single. Night.’ or ‘we must Skype at least twice a week, no exceptions.’ It probably works for some people, and if it works for you, keep on keepin’ on – I’m not trying to tell you how to do your relationship.
However, if you’re asking me for my advice (which you didn’t, but this is my blog and I’ll write what I like), I’d say that rules like this are dangerous because they’re based on fear (fear of losing the other person, fear of growing apart, fear of being alone), and anything based on fear is heading down a bad road.
Instead, I would favour organic communication. Talk when you want, as much or as little as you want, but without rules. Some days you won’t feel like talking; some days they’ll have nothing to say. Some days you’ll just want to sit and read; some days they’ll just want to sit and watch skiing videos that you’re not interested in.** And just because you don’t talk much or at all one day, it doesn’t mean they’re actually getting it on with that girl putting sticky-out tongue emojis all over their Facebook wall.
Good relationships should be based on this anyway, but it’s fairly easy to make a relationship work without an ounce of trust – when you’re living in the same town, that is. When there’s hours or even days of travel between the two of you, trust is essentially a make or break issue (as it should be). You can’t know where they are every second of every day. You might not get the chance to meet every single one of their friends. If they miss a Skype call and tell you it was because the wifi was down, you have no choice but to believe them.
It’s all the more important to be able to trust because you’re investing a lot of time and energy into this; as we’ve established, it’s probably going to suck, so you’re putting yourself through a fair amount of heartache to keep this going. If you guys are in a monogamous relationship, you’re also going to have to keep your animal desires at bay and try not to flirt with your local barista (too much). If these sacrifices aren’t worth it for you, or you suspect it might not be worth it for them, this relationship is going to be over faster than Lindsay Lohan’s singing career.
- Send them things to let them know you’re thinking of them.
A good luck text before an exam or an interview. A card on Valentine’s Day. A snapchat of a café you can’t wait to try the next time they visit. A grocery shop from Sainsbury’s Online full of gin and aubergines. A little goes a long way.
(That last one is actually not so little because Sainsbury’s have a £30 minimum spend on online orders. But you could maybe do that, like, once.)
- Enjoy having your own life and do your own thaaaang.
If, like me, you’re going from a short-distance relationship (is that a thing?) to a long-distance one, you could choose to see this as a great opportunity to stick your head out of your relationship bubble for a mo’ and reconnect with yourself. Use this as a time to consider who you are as an individual instead of who you are as a couple, what you enjoy doing and what you really want out of life (or even just what you really want to do today) without having to take into account the wants and needs of anyone else. Meet some new friends and/or try a new hobby – learn a language, start a blog, buy a weird new vegetable that you don’t know how to cook, take up yoga, watch a ton of James Bond films/chick flicks/animal documentaries/whatever TV they can’t stand but you secretly love. It won’t make the time you have to spend away from your significant other not suck, but it might make it suck slightly less.
Well, I think that’s all on the life-changing wisdom front for now. I hope your life is sufficiently changed.
And you, dear reader who wasn’t searching for advice or gossip but is still reading, you really, really need to go home now.
Until next time,
*I’m sorry. I lied. Hopefully you read this bit last.
**Just to be clear, this is a joke. I actually love watching skiing videos. I never get bored of them. Ever.