From Our Readers
July 16, 2015 1:17 pm

At the moment, I am in a long distance relationship with pretty much every important person in my life. My best friend lives in Dallas and my other bestie is currently swept off her feet by the LA surf and sunshine. My family is a painful 10-hour drive away. And Robert, the man of my dreams, is 1,000 miles away. I’m no expert on the long distance thing, but all of a sudden I’ve found that pretty much every important relationship in my life is conducted over a whole lot of distance. Let’s be honest here: it’s way less fun than being close. But you can do it well. Long distance sucks. But if you are going to do it, you might as well give it your all.

My boyfriend and I met over 4 years ago. About a year into dating I got an awesome job opportunity three hours away, and we quickly found ourselves in the left lane of the long distance dating highway. Two years and many round-trips later, and I returned home for an offer on a new gig. We were reunited for one sweet month before his job swept him away to a whole other state, a thousand miles away. If being a million miles away from my better half can help, in any way, impart some sort of wisdom to others, I feel obliged to share it. So here are a few ways we’ve learned to deal.

Communicate way more than you think you should

In love and life there is physical intimacy and emotional communication. And when staring down the long distance road tethering you and your mate (or your bestie), you must know that, first and foremost, emotional communication is your foundation. In a long distance relationship there will be, for giant stretches, no physical touch, no lazy nights together on the couch, no quick exchange of smiles to communicate how silly you think something is. There is no body language to decipher. Bummer? Absolutely. But forget that stuff and think about what you do have.

You have sweet texts to wake up to and fall asleep to. You have hilarious or weirdly awesome Snapchat surprises. You have Skype dates, love letters, and phone calls bursting with news from each other’s day. Don’t take these for granted. When you live across the state or the country or the world from the one you love, this is what you have. So accept that and make these moments of connection wonderful and meaningful. Your voice and your heart are your strongest lifelines.

Try the old-fashioned letter and parcel. It works wonders

It wasn’t until Robert’s job prevented us from seeing each other or talking on the phone for four months straight that the old-fashioned love letter truly showed its Notebook-worthy powers. There is nothing as sweet as the rush of checking your mailbox to see a handwritten envelope with your name scrawled across it in their handwriting and stamps haphazardly placed across the top from the one you love. You know that feeling you got in middle school when the boy you liked passed you a note in class? That, but more so.

It doesn’t just have to be to a romantic partner, either. Letters are this awesome, alternate universe in the land of communication. It’s like transcending to another space and time, where it’s just you and the paper and the pen, and you can truly express yourself in an uninterrupted way. The backspace button isn’t just there to rethink or refine your every word. It’s easy to let your heart spill openly in a way that the phone, email or face-to-face communication can sometimes muddy. And the effort it takes to send one is impressive. You have to hand write it, you have to buy stamps, you may even have to Google how many said stamps to use, and then you have to walk to a mailbox. It’s a triumph! But the effort, I assure you, will be worth it.

Always be planning the next visit

That ecstatic moment of seeing your long lost boo or your heart’s true bestie dissipates quickly when it’s time to say goodbye. Circumvent this by always giving yourselves something to look forward to. Whether it’s planning the next time you will see each other or the next Skype date. Plan something. And put that plan into action. Give yourselves something to look forward to. It’s like if you were running a marathon. Twenty-six miles is a long freaking way. But if you tell yourself, those next 100 yards, I can do that. I can get there. And then again, I can make it to that sign up ahead. I can make it to that mile marker. Before you know it, you’re at the end. Even if this is not your natural way of looking at the world, try and break things up into digestible intervals.

Technology is your friend

Whether it’s embarking on a day of Snapchat scavenger hunting (food pic, graffiti pic, coffee pic, random act of awesome pic, etc.), there are silly ways to connect with people far away that let you take advantage of technology. You could make a joint playlist on Spotify. Swapping jams and discovering new music together is a dope way to bond and share your respective tastes.

Another way to have fun is by hiding notes or little surprises for your sweetheart in their bag or abode right before you leave. My mom used to do this when I traveled for tournaments in high school, and I still think it’s one of the most thoughtful gestures to say “hey, I love you”. My best friend and I also do this when we visit each other. It’s so simple and leaves them finding happy little surprises all over their suitcase or apartment for at least a week.

Do stuff together, even when you’re apart
Whatever you two are into, find a way to bring that into your lives from afar. Robert and I are both book lovers. So every once in awhile we come up with a list of books we want to read and then together we’ll decide on one, and both read it simultaneously. It’s like our own little book club, but more importantly it’s another small line cast out to each other. If you guys are movie buffs or comedy feigns, rock collectors or whatever is your thing—get it. And get it together.

It’s OK to fight

If and when you and your partner or pal get into an argument, try talking it out. But if talking isn’t working, it’s OK just to take some time to cool down and collect your thoughts so you can speak about why you’re feeling upset more rationally. It will be hard. And it will not always be pretty. But trust me on this one.

You do you, too

If seeing your long distance loved one on a regular basis is unrealistic due to scheduling or financial constraints, or if traveling back and forth all the time is causing stress or burnout, understand that it’s OK to feel that way. And give yourself a break. Embrace these moments and use them as an opportunity to refuel, re-center and love on yourself. Your relationship is not your whole world. And, really, it shouldn’t be.

One of the few glorious aspects of being in an LDR, romantic or otherwise, is that you have infinite alone time. Go explore. Go out with your friends. This is your time, and this time can be so empowering if you let it be.

Laci Mosier and her pirate dog, Tess, live in Austin, Texas.. She is a copywriter for an ad agency, and has an affinity for postcards, good jams, the way library books smell, quaint coffee houses and peanut butter cups. She would like to be a mermaid when she grows up. Follow her on the Twittersphere @LaciMosier and on Instagram @LaciBeeeee  

[Image via iStock]

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