What I’ve learned from being in a relationship with opposite schedules

When it comes to being in a relationship, spending time together is key. But what happens when you don’t have the same schedule? My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly four years, and we face the challenge that our schedules have never aligned. Whether it was a full-time load at school or graveyard shifts at work, it was rare for our days off or schedules to be completely in sync. Despite the frustration of not always being able to see each other for more than a few hours a week at times, we’ve always found a way to make it work.

While the idea of being able to see your significant other on weekends and nights seems like a dream, it’s not always a reality or luxury you get to have. Even though my boyfriend and I live in the same area, having drastically different schedules can often make it feel like we are a world apart. It can even feel worse when the holidays roll around or you find yourself being on your own for outings more commonly than not. As the years have passed, I’ve discovered a few tips that have helped us deal with the struggle of constantly being apart.

Keep in touch more than you think you should

There’s nothing more important than strong communication in any relationship. I can’t stress this enough – especially when you don’t get the ability to see each other in person day to day. Whether it’s a text message, phone call, Skype or FaceTime session, it makes all the difference. Keeping an open and honest line of communication ensures the two of you will always be on the same page. No matter if you’re simply sharing what happened in your day or that you’re missing your SO, staying in contact is crucial in keeping the flame alive.

Be flexible about your sleep schedule

Relationships all need a little compromise, right? With my boyfriend’s intense work hours, I’m often wide-awake when he’s fast asleep (or vice versa). One way we try to meet each other halfway is by being flexible with our sleep schedules when we can. Whether we’re getting up a little earlier or staying up later, we try to make the time we have together count as much as possible. Some quality time together is always better than nothing at all.

Know going in that sometimes it’s going to be frustrating

I’ll be honest – having conflicting schedules isn’t exactly the easiest issue to deal with. There will be times you’re frustrated, sad or even angry at the circumstances. The thing to keep in mind if you want a level head in the relationship is to be patient (even if it’s a day at a time). You don’t always get to choose your schedules, but you do get to choose if you stay together. It’s not fair to punish your SO for circumstances out of his or her control. As long as he or she is always making an effort to be there for you, there will be hope for the relationship. Remember: schedules change and it won’t always be like this forever. It’s all a waiting game.

Plan—and keep—date nights

Who says date nights have to stop once you’re in a relationship? They are even more critical if your schedules contradict. No matter if you’re taking a quick getaway or having a quiet night in, planning special outings with your SO will alleviate the tension of not always being together.

Keep living your own life

I’ve become extremely independent, as I’ve confronted the reality that my relationship isn’t on your average 9-to-5. I’m lucky to have a close group of friends that don’t mind if I tag along and be a third (or even fifth) wheel on our weekend adventures and getaways. Having more time to myself also allows me to focus on hobbies and interests I don’t necessarily have in common with my SO. Even though I’m thankful for my independence, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could go on a spontaneous adventure as a couple instead of worrying if it fits in our separate schedules.

Looking back, there’s nothing I’d change about my relationship even though I hate having opposite availability. We’ve grown stronger as a couple, gained a new sense of independence and learned lessons that will continue to strengthen our relationship. Ultimately what really counts at the end of the day is being happy whether you’re together or apart.

(Image via NBC)

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