Editor’s Note: This post was inspired by a Cosmopolitan article I read yesterday about a long-distance relationship. It resonated with me a lot, so I figured it was time to talk about mine.
If you’ve been following me for a few months (or you’ve spoken to me at all since October), you’ll know that my boyfriend Simon lives in England. Having met at a truly incredible Fall Out Boy show in London, we were obviously destined to be together. Clearly, some ominous omniscient being watching over us (read: Pete Wentz) wanted us to meet.
That said, we’ve now known each other for almost four months and officially been together for a little over two months, even though I have now been back in Philly for over a month (that is the most math I’ve done in over a year). I like to think that I’ve gained some wisdom on long-distance relationships (LDRs) now that I’m in one, so I thought I would shed some of that light on you. (Please note: I am not a professional. I just like talking about my boyfriend.)
Here is some advice and maybe some hope for those of you who are in or may one day be in an LDR:
#1: If you’re with the right person, long distance will not be that hard.
Okay, this is kind of a lie. Long distance is really, really difficult sometimes. That said, if you’re with the right person, it is manageable. I’m not sure what I expected of LDR-hood before I was thrown into it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it didn’t really feel that much different. Sure, I haven’t kissed my boyfriend since before Christmas, but our almost constant communication hasn’t dwindled at all, and being 3000 miles apart, we’ve kind of been forced to make the extra effort to become closer in other ways in order to continue progressing the way a normal, geographically-close couple would.
#2: Communication becomes EVEN MORE important.
Communication is 100% the most important part of any relationship. If you don’t talk about stuff, you’ll suppress, you’ll repress, and you’ll struggle to grow both as a couple and as individuals. In LDRs, this is even more crucial. Simon and I obviously can’t wait to see each other in person to handle a problem; we have to take care of things as soon as they happen. This is where technology comes in. Part of what makes the distance so manageable is the fact that things like Skype and FaceTime exist. I still get to hear his voice and see him outside of the hundred Snapchats we exchange every day on a regular basis. iMessage has also allowed us to text just as much as we did when we were on the same continent, even if it uses up all of my data (sorry mom). If you find yourself in an LDR and don’t have iMessage, I recommend the app Couple. You can text, send drawings, let your S/O know when you’re thinking of them, and even utilize a feature called Thumbkiss, where you can make your thumbs… well, kiss. (Editor’s note: I tried to explain this better. It did not work.)
There are so many different ways to communicate through technology that our ability to interact as a couple hasn’t really changed at all. We’ve just had to learn to make up for the things we can’t do with words. (It is possible that Simon and I have just gotten lucky with that as we are both writers, and expressing ourselves verbally is pretty easy. I’m pretty sure you can read any of my posts and know that I talk a lot.)
#3: Knowing when you’re going to see them again makes things way easier.
This isn’t really advice, or anything useful, so sorry. I understand that in many cases, LDRs are indefinite, and you might not know when you’ll be able to see your S/O again, but knowing that I’ll be seeing Simon again relatively soon (5 weeks!!!) is really comforting. That said, after his trip to Philly in March, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see him again. At this point, it’s looking like I won’t be able to make it back to the UK before Christmas, which is admittedly scary. Fortunately, we got that aforementioned communication thing down pat.
#4: You will get used to the time difference.
Simon and I only have a five-hour time difference, so I can’t really speak for the North America/Australia LDRs, but being in different time zones isn’t as bad as either of us thought it would be. Five hours isn’t even that much time. There have been times when Simon has had to wake up really early and I hadn’t even gone to sleep yet, but that’s more of a reflection of my absolutely horrendous internal clock than anything. He always says good morning first, and I always say good night last. It really isn’t any different than just having an S/O with a much better sleep schedule than you.
#5: If you really have to force it, it might not be worth it.
This might be a bit redundant, and also might be a bit of a crappy thing to say, but it’s true. LDRs take an insane amount of work, like all relationships do, but it should not feel like work. I never feel obligated to do something or say something for the sake of my relationship. I don’t really want to compare it to a job, but it really is just like having your dream job. You have to work, yes, but you should love doing it. If you have to remind yourself to text your S/O, something ain’t right.
There will be times in any relationship where you might have to compromise, but it should never feel like a sacrifice. The only thing Simon and I have sacrificed for the sake of our relationship is sleep just so we could Skype for a few more minutes. We have never felt like we’re losing anything or giving something up. It isn’t losing five minutes of sleep, it’s gaining five minutes of a good conversation.
Ah, a super long post about a super long-distance relationship. How appropriate.
BONUS: built-in drinking game a la You Deserve A Drink by Mamrie Hart: re-read this post and drink every time I repeat myself, say something mushy, or say “Simon.” If you get hurt, I’m sorry and please don’t sue me.
xx Gabi (+ Simon)