Life

8 Lessons In Long-Distance Love

photo 1One year ago, I was hesitant to start a relationship at all, let alone a long-distance one. After a tumultuous breakup that resembled a World War, I took a hiatus from exercising my poor choice in men and embarked on a personal project. With somewhat of an “Eat, Pray, Love” mindset, a handful of unappealing first dates, and a library of female-focused literature of the “Lean In” variety, I was bent on staying single.

While my persistence was focused on solidarity, I had a suitor who was just as determined. He was intelligent, extremely accomplished, driven, and ridiculously kind; his level of morality soared far above the bar my last relationship set. It all sounds flawless, but he was 1,000 miles away from being perfect.

This suitor was a mere acquaintance who had relocated to pursue a career. With no intention of hitting it off, we rekindled and didn’t miss a beat in a passionate text-a-thon. Unquestionable compatibility aside, the miles were intimidating. As I approach my one-year anniversary, I’ve learned far more than I initially signed up for.

1. Your independence is still yours.

Being previously stuck in a five-year codependent relationship left me feeling like a shell more than a complete person. I finally ended it, got in the car, and realized I could go anywhere and no one would change that. My life as an ex-Stepford Wife took flight. I swiftly explored hobbies, let the social butterfly in me fly free, renewed my passport, and even left the country for a while.

When I came across people from my past, they were astonished that I wasn’t chin-deep in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Remarkably, freedom tasted far better than sorrow. I didn’t want to start a new relationship and lose this supreme sense of self I’d developed. Having a relationship miles away meant skipping the honeymoon phase—the 90-day vortex of being obsessed with spending time together. I surprised myself with how independent I was in my new relationship. If I checked in, it was to tell my boyfriend how my day was, not to give him a minute-by-minute transcript to prove my trust. My boyfriend helped me realize that achieving my independence wasn’t a pageant crown to pass along to the next victor—it was always going to be mine no matter what relationship I entered.

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2. Listening becomes a vital skill.

In a generation that thrives in virtual settings, you’d think long-distance relationships would be a simple feat. I can tweet, gram, pin, comment, and tumble my way through my 20s, but in-person interaction is still needed in a relationship. Calls drop, poor reception beckons, and WiFi wipes out. When I’m not cursing Skype or playing Hide-and-Go-Find-Cell-Phone-Service, I’m doing my best to listen. I’m guilty of getting sidetracked and responding with an annoying “What did you say?” or even worse, a routine “Yeah.” Engage in a real conversation outside the emoji comfort zone—it’s worth it.

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3. Try to be Pinteresting.

Take a break from pinning your 100-day squat challenge—your opportunity to make your Pinterest boards a reality is now. When I signed up for a long-distance relationship, I unleashed the DIY Girlfriend inside me. From handwritten letters (my personal favorite) to care packages, I was given the opportunity to be as corny as I wanted—all rationally in the name of long-distance love.

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4. There will be threesomes—and it’s OK.

I frequently spoon with my iPhone and dreamily gaze into pixels while on Skype—I’m in a threesome with my boyfriend and an electronic device.

While embracing technology without feeling like a scene out of Her, remember that even distant couples need space. Drowning your significant other with minute-by-minute messages can kill your personal productivity, feel like a task, and ultimately lessen the bittersweet feeling of missing someone you love. Experiment to find a communicative balance that works best for both of you.

5. Be your own hot date.

As someone who has skipped shaving my legs (because who else is going to be that close to me?), I know it’s mindlessly simple to resort to sweatpants and Netflix. Your exterior doesn’t contribute to your worth and it certainly isn’t a reflection of who you are, but pulling yourself together is a gigantic source of confidence. Make time for primping or hitting the gym because it’s a gift to you, not only your significant other.

6. Plan ahead.

Having an indefinite amount of time between your next in-person interaction can be discouraging. Plan visits or video dates and give yourselves something to look forward to.

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7. Have an end in sight.

Education, career opportunities, and military deployments are only a few of the things keeping couples apart. It doesn’t have to be three months from now or even three years from now, but relationships can’t survive on an indefinite current forever. If you’re serious, consider discussing personal goals and plans to merge your lives into the same place. Starting the conversation may even change your mind and justify whether this is what you want.

8. Love transcends latitude and longitude.

A relationship doesn’t need a static set of geographic coordinates to make it worthwhile. If I had let the challenge of distance outweigh my gut feelings, I would have sold myself and my happiness short. In the last year, I’ve grown more independent and thoughtful, become a better communicator, grown intellectually, sparked my creativity, and have learned to appreciate time spent with others more than ever before. My heart isn’t tied to a place, but to the idea that when you find love you hold onto it—it’s as simple as that. 

(By Jillian Goltzman via Thought Catalog)

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  • Love your blog! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! You can check it out here:
    http://moonlightchai.com/2014/08/13/liebster-award/#more-225

    • Aww thanks SO much! I LOVE Moonlight Chai and I’m so happy to have come across it in the blogging community <3 I gladly accept the challenge.

  • Sarah Kurz

    Beautifully written! Going through the hem and haw of a summer romance that will be soon parting ways and deciding whether or not to take the leap into a LDR. Your blog gave me that extra boost of confidence, #8 especially!

    • Sarah! How are you?! This comment made my morning. 🙂 Honestly, I’ve been with my boyfriend for about a year now (if you count the hesitation it took my to initially commit to a long-distance situation). I was really afraid to begin one, but it’s been beyond worth it to me. Of course there are moments when miles get in the way, but the moments you spend together are worth it if both of you invest your time into it. I will say Skype can be a hassle (likely because my wifi is awful!), but he and I still talk everyday. He’s basically my best friend and distance doesn’t diminish that. Eventually it’s nice to have some idea of where both of you might be after a year or so. Right now we’re getting antsy to be in the same place and we’re just at stages in our lives where we can’t immediately. If you can get past that and prepare for the idea that either one of you or both of you would have to make an effort to be in the right place overtime, you’re going to be perfectly fine! Planning trips in advance REALLY helps and gives you something to look forward to. Also, take advantage of the cute things normal couples can’t do like letter writing and mailed surprises — it adds an element of sentiment and excitement. Thanks for reading and I’m really happy this helped encourage you! 🙂

  • I’ve loved reading this. I really happy for you. Because one year ago I took the opposite decision: I decided that a long distance relationship wasn’t for me. Sometimes I regretted, sometimes I don’t. Distance is seriously too much, he will be in college for other 2 years, I get annoyed so easily by Skype (even if yes, it’s a great invention) and I prefer interact with real people. On the other way, he is also my best friend and I miss him like crazy.

    I am always happy to hear long distance relationships that work (I have a few friends too) and that gives me hope for the future. I know all I have written sounds a bit controversial…

    #7 is so true!

    • Caterina,
      Your comments make my entire day, I swear! You’re so amazingly sweet and I’m so happy to have met you through blogging. I’m sorry to hear about your experience with long distance and I truly think it isn’t for everyone. It really depends on both people in the relationship and what stage their at in their lives. Right now, Brian (my boyfriend) and I are both building up ourselves and our careers as much as possible which makes it difficult, too. I’m fairly new in the workforce and he’s turning 30 this year so we’re both far apart in our stages. Thankfully, his maturity level is really high so he is very encouraging about me pursuing my dreams. If you were to ask me if long distance would have worked in my previous relationship, I would have laughed out loud and said most definitely not.

      I will agree, Skype is a great invention… when it wants to work. Lately the internet is against us and we’re constantly struggle to hear each other and dropping calls. Even so, we’ve managed to get past the little glitches and try to keep focused on the idea that this is only temporary. Number 7 is definitely the most realistic and important. Two years is a long time and people really grow in college. I hope that you and your friend manage to stay close. While you don’t need to “wait” for him, you never know what the future holds. Maintain a friendship above all else and it may grow into something later on — if not, you’ll still have your best friend. Long distance relationships need to come at the right time in your life in order for them to feel right, and sometimes it’s just difficult to commit to something that isn’t tangible. I wish you and your situation the absolute best! xo Jillian

      • I can say the same, I’m so glad to have found your blog and so you(:
        you’re right, it definitely depends on both the parts. Before I was so skeptical too about LDR, but after reading this and bearing in mind that lots of my friends are actually in happy LDRs, maybe next time I will make a different choice.
        Also because maturity is fundamental, and I was afraid of this last year (he’s younger than me).

        it’s so good to hear from someone else – who understands my situation – what I’ve been thinking the all time. He is my best friend and I don’t wanna lose his friendship, so exactly, we shall see with time passing by what will happen. luckily we are still keeping in touch. Sometimes I hate having half of my friends on the other side of the ocean.

        thank you thank you for your words.
        xx Cate

  • Beautiful article! Long distance can work as long as there is friendship, patience, compassion, communication and love. My husband and I are examples of that. In 2011 after a 7 year relationship my boyfriend at the time was going through a personal situation that led him to pack his bags and move to Israel. I was left devastated! Although we were in contact, I figured that was the end of us since we were living in different continents. I tried to move on, but our friendship still bonded us. In Feb. of 2013 he hoped on a plane and came back to rekindle what was once there. Later that year he asked me to marry him and we were married in six months. Sometimes you just have to let things go, let nature take it’s course and if it’s meant to be it will be.