Let me set the scene: It is August in Las Vegas. You are in your bathing suit at the Marquee Pool Party guzzling down all you could drink vodka sodas, dancing to the music and splashing your friends in the pool. You see a handsome man and boom, you strike up a conversation with the help of your drunken wing-woman of a cousin. Five months, three countries and 5,568 miles later, you’re commuting back and forth to Amsterdam and you’re smitten.
You never dreamed of being in a long distance relationship but you were convinced that it would work out and if not, it would make one hell of a story. The longing for a person and the desire to be with them all the time becomes greater and you learn your strengths and weaknesses. You experience different emotions and different ways of living. You learn how to live outside of your bubble. There are many pros and cons to a LDR relationship. My advice: don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
With that said, here are some things I am still learning from my long distance relationship.
1. Understand that it is not going to be easy.
Any relationship is difficult to begin with, add distance with inaccessibility and you got yourself a complex recipe that leads to sacrifice. Before agreeing to it, just know that it will be difficult. High risk, high reward. (Listen to “Easy Love” by Lauv.)
2. Learn how to communicate.
Luckily, technology has grown since WWII and you do not have to wait months at a time to hear from your loved one. I still recommend sending letters, postcards, and care packages to keep things fun and unexpected. Your options range from texting to FaceTime to Snapchat to WhatsApp to sliding up in the DM to old-fashioned calling. Oh, how we have evolved from our AIM days.
When something bothers you, do not let it fester. Talk about it right away in a calm way. Tell each other you love each other every. single. day. You have so many resources that it should not be too difficult unless your situation is very different. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
3. Do not be jealous.
This is a tough one because your significant other has another life that you’re not going to always be present for. That’s where trust and respect comes into play. He might go to a bar on a Friday night when you’re getting ready for work because you have a nine hour time difference and you have to live your life when he is having fun. Do not wonder…just trust. But it is a two-way thing. Confidence and honesty are important traits to exercise in order for a LDR to work.
4. Set a goal.
Unless you’re planning on living the rest of your life miles away, it’s best to set a goal to look forward to. You want something tangible like a date or a goal to know that the time and effort you’re investing in is leading towards something special. For us, the goal is that in two years Pat would be back in the US. This is still a huge obstacle for us because we understand that not everything works according to plan. We are still working on our relationship to get to that point but a goal helps us when we have our moments of weakness.
5. Be patient and graceful.
This was what was most difficult for me. Every situation is different. I am a flight attendant practically commuting to Amsterdam every month and I felt like I was doing so much so naturally, I was impatient. I would want him to text me all the time or make the same sacrifices as I did but in the end, patience, grace and understanding were the keywords.
Sometimes, I would desperately want to make a snarky remark or wonder why we are doing this in the first place. But in those moments, you need to take a breather before you say something you will regret. Grace is one of the sexiest traits a person could have. If it is meant to be, it will happen.
6. Learn each other’s love language.
Acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, physical touch. (Read “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman) This works for any type of relationship. But knowing how the other person receives love as well as how you receive love will help your relationship significantly. Mine is acts of service and Pat’s is words of affirmation. So I tried to show my appreciation every day and I’d clean his apartment or cook dinner so when he came home, he’d have a happy girl and a happy place. We would have post-its showing our love for each other around the apartment. Little acts of love can go a long way.
7. Being present when you can.
See each other as often as you can. I know situations are different and it might not be the easiest for some but even if it’s through FaceTime, just be present. Try to make it seem like you are involved in each other’s lives. Send your boo their favorite dinner and have Skype meals together. Always ask how their day was. If you don’t make that effort, then there is a possibility of drifting apart.
You both live in different cities so explore each other’s home together. Make it special and find things to do. If you haven’t seen each other in months or weeks, then the excitement stays alive and you do cool stuff together. It will help you appreciate each other and give you happy memories to come home with.
9. Meet each other halfway.
Equality is vital in a long distance relationship. You both have to show that you love each other and prove to each other you are both willing to go the same lengths to make it work. Constant affirmation and positive energy keeps the spark alive, even well past the honeymoon phase. But it won’t work unless you are both willing to make the same sacrifices.
10. Know that you create your happiness.
One thing that human beings do in general is to constantly seek validation. Especially the millennial generation with their self-gratification and need for hearts or likes. Even though your significant other is your partner, they don’t determine your happiness. You do. If making them happy makes you happy, then that’s a win-win but you can’t expect them to be the same.
You will have moments of sadness when you miss them and that is inevitable. If that happens, you need to take a step back and see the bigger picture – is this worth it? In the long run, that time learning about each other and gaining an actual friendship will help you significantly. If you are happy with yourself and apart, then together will be magical.
Long distance is never easy for anyone but if you can be patient and show constant adoration for each other, then you will be golden. It is an adventure and it will definitely make you stronger. I know that it is highly do-able with the right mindset and dedication. Long distance can be fun and exciting because seeing each other feels like a beautiful dream.
I have definitely learned more about myself and what I am capable of doing for love. Although it is a work in progress, it will lead to a great life. These 10 tips are what I learned from my time with Pat whether I exercised them or not. I can confidently say that as long as both are willing to strive to make it work, what’s the harm in having a second home in a cool place?