I have heard for years and years that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I am now able to tell you that this is certainly true. But long-distance relationships are not always rainbows and butterflies. Long-distance relationships are rewarding and so worth it, but also challenging and frustrating at times. I have come to find that long-distance relationships are not easy. Like all relationships they require some effort, good communication, and work… but (not to sound gushy), most importantly: love!
Jeremy and I recently celebrated our two-year dating anniversary, and almost half of the time that we have “officially” been together has been spent living five hours apart. On average, we see one another about every three to four weeks. Ideally, I would much rather be seeing him every three to four hours, but unfortunately that is not realistic or possible for us at this time. Both Jeremy and I are keeping our eyes peeled for possible job opportunities for him here in Omaha, but until that time comes, we are making the best of what we have together. Over the past nine months of dating long-distance, I have learned a lot about what it takes to thrive (not just survive) in a long-distance relationship. So many people all over the world find themselves in long-distance relationships at some point in their lives, so I hope these insights and ideas can help keep you and your significant other’s relationship strong. And for the record, many of these still apply for those of you who are fortunate enough to live in the same city as your significant other.
Jeremy and I are both very busy and have pretty crazy work schedules. Some days he goes into work at 4:00 a.m. and there are days when I stay late at work until 8:00 p.m. for events. Therefore, our schedules are not always ideal for talking on the phone or Skyping. However, when we are both free in the evenings, we almost always take the time to Skype or to make a phone call before bed. Sometimes our conversations are only 30 minutes long, and other times we talk for well over an hour. Are these methods of communication as great as talking in person? Of course not. But they make the time between our in-person visits go by a little bit faster. Can we also briefly talk about how amazing Skype is? I love being able to not only talk to Jeremy, but to actually see him (and his puppy dog who makes random appearances)!
2. Always keep a countdown for when you will see each other next.
Not knowing the next time you will see one another is so difficult and makes the time between your visits seem like an eternity. Jeremy and I always have a date in mind for when we will see one another next. Several times per week, I normally add up the number of days that stand between us seeing one another. As of today, we have 15 days to go!
I am sure that most people who live with or near their significant other start and end their days by saying, “I love you.” Even though our morning greetings may be by text message, they are still meaningful nonetheless. Simply saying hello and “I love you” let’s the other person know that you always start your day thinking of them.
Now I do not mean this in a creepy or weird way. I simply mean that sharing a specific clothing item with your significant other can be used as a sense of comfort and as a reminder of the happiness that person brings to you. Jeremy and I have a system where I wear one of his sweatshirts for a few weeks (normally in the evening and/or to bed), and then I switch with him each time that I see him. This way his sweatshirt smells like me for a little while, and the new sweatshirt that I get from Jeremy smells like him. It is amazing the power that scent has! This may also explain why I am often wearing fishing/hunting-related clothing 😉
5. Meet in the middle.
Sure, you can meet in the middle when it comes to compromising on things, but this is more referring to meeting in the middle geographically. A couple of times per year, Jeremy and I plan a weekend in Des Moines (which is about halfway between us) to spend time with one another. This prevents either of us from having to drive the full five hours, and enables us to see one another more often. It is also a great “mini vacation” and a chance to do some of the things we enjoy most- eating delicious food and drinking beer- with one another. These weekends are never elaborate, but I always look forward to them so much.
6. Send one another goofy pictures of yourself.
I have several goofy pictures of both Jeremy and me that I could share here, but I have decided to spare both of us the humiliation. Jeremy and I like to send each other goofy and embarrassing (no, not inappropriate) pictures to make one another laugh. We both make some pretty awful facial expressions and we aren’t afraid to share them with each other. I love to laugh and I love making him laugh. It is a win-win!
Since Jeremy and I currently live 5 hours away from one another, going out to dinner is simply not an option. However, this past weekend I came up with the idea for us to have a virtual Skype dinner date. I wanted to surprise him with the idea, so I sent him instructions (buy an apple, stop at Subway on your way home from work, get a beer out of your fridge, etc.) by text. While he was performing these simple tasks, I was doing the same. When I told him to get on Skype at 7:00, we were both set and ready to go. I posted a picture on Instagram during our date. Sure, it was not quite the same as an actual dinner date, but we both really enjoyed it. When you cannot date in person, a dinner date on Skype just might be the next best thing! Next time we are going to plan a meal to cook “together.” I am already really looking forward to that.
8. Send one another special cards or letters “just because.”
Receiving a letter or even just a goofy card in the mail from your significant other can completely turn your entire day around in a great way. It is also a wonderful way to show the other person that you love them and think of them at random times throughout your day. I am not a huge lover of surprises, but these kind of surprises are ones that I am totally on board with.
Jeremy and I could not think of a better way to use vacation days from work than to spend them taking a trip together! This past Summer we went to Colorado for a week and had an absolute blast. We love exploring new places (especially restaurants and breweries) together, and having a vacation planned together in your future gives you something fun to look forward to and be excited about together.
I decided to end this list with something that may seem rather obvious, but that is so vital to a healthy long-distance relationship. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Getting one’s feelings across are definitely not quite as easy when you are at a distance. But it is so important to bring up concerns, questions, worries, feelings, etc. The two of us went through a phase where we were not as honest about our feelings/concerns and it did not bode well for us. We have since learned from that and are much stronger for it.
For those of you who are in, have been in, or will be in a long-distance relationship in the future, I hope you can relate and that you will find these suggestions helpful. Long-distance relationships are certainly not easy. But with a little bit of effort and a lot of love, you can make them work. It is 100% possible to thrive and not just survive in a long-distance relationship!
For those of you who are or have been in a long-distance relationship, what are your suggestions for thriving together as a couple?