How To Survive a Long Distance Relationship
By Shannon Ullman
We met in high school , I was 15, him 18. One day he asked me out after class and we have been together ever since. We grew up together, Josh and I. He became more than just my boyfriend, he became my best friend. Everything we did, we did together. Every holiday, every accomplishment, every sorrow, we were there for each other. Josh visited me on weekends when I went away to college and put up with my short stints in other cities and states. We rented our first apartment together and adopted two adorable cats.
I loved our place and I loved our lives but eventually, after I graduated college, I began feeling dissatisfied with my life direction. I had little to no job prospects, was waitressing to pay off my debt and still had thoughts of travel and adventure dancing around my mind. I heard about teaching English abroad and it’s something that I had loosely thought about for quite some time. When I came across a discounted TEFL course by chance, I jumped on the opportunity and became serious about leaving the country to start a new career. It took a few months but eventually I secured an interview with a school in China. Josh knew my plans but it was something we didn’t really talk about too much, until I completed the interview and got offered the job. It was a bittersweet moment when I told him the news and we both were unsure whether to be happy or sad.
Josh decided that he needed a change as well. He made the decision to move to a lovely ski town in the Rocky Mountains. The months quickly went by and we started selling our things and making our plans to move from our hometown in Pennsylvania. We packed up our stuff and took a road trip out to Colorado to Josh’s new home and spent a measly three days together before I left him for good. The days were hard to enjoy and the last hours we had together were spent crying, watching the clock and dreading our drive to the airport. We cried, we hugged and after 9 years together, we parted ways for over a year without a single visit. It has now been over 4 months since we have been reunited and we have no plans to part ways again. It was tough, it wasn’t ideal, but we made it through. Here are my tips on how you too can survive a long distance relationship.
Make Plans for When You are Together
This may have been the most important tactic for keeping my long distance relationship strong. Before leaving for China, Josh and I planned a backpacking adventure through SE Asia upon the completion of my contract. We knew when we would be seeing each other again and had concrete plans for what we would do. This gave us something to look forward to and something to plan together throughout the time we were apart. Whether you are just meeting up for a short visit, or planning to be back together for good, make some sort of plans in advance. It will make your eventual reunion seem more real and exciting!
Meet Each Other’s Friends
My boyfriend and I both moved to new places where we both eventually met new friends. You and your significant other are going to be mentioning unfamiliar names and telling stories about unknown people. Use Skype to introduce your friends to your guy or girl so that they don’t feel left out of your new social circle. You will feel better when you can put a face to the names in their stories.
When my grandfather was stationed with the military in Japan, him and my grandmother only had contact through monthly letters. It’s romantic but I was grateful every day for living in the age of the internet. There are tons of apps and programs out there that made it possible for us to communicate flawlessly. We used an app called WeChat which is popular in China but used Skype and the I-Phone Facetime option as well. You can send photos, voice recordings, and messages and talk face to face through the screen just like you were together.
Have Virtual Dates
You may be apart but that is no excuse for not making time for dates. Just chatting over Skype can get old and coming up with virtual date ideas makes things more interesting. You can do anything from listening to new albums together and eating a meal to playing drinking games and watching movies. Have dance parties, cook dinner together or toss in a little romance all by the power of the internet.
Talk Once a Day
OK, once a day may be a bit much for some of you but for me, it was important to catch each other up on our days. Just a quick call, even for ten minutes was enough for us to know that we were thinking of one another. Sometimes we simply just left it up to text messaging. The amount of calls per day and per week doesn’t really matter as long as you are both comfortable with the amount of communication and feel connected.
Keep Writing Alive
Hand written letters have died out since the invention of text messages and emails. Even though they have decreased in popularity, hand written notes seem to have increased in romance. No matter where you are, sending written letters or post cards can be a very personable way to let someone know you are thinking about them. I always made it a point to send Josh postcards from my travels so that he would know I was thinking of him no matter what I was doing.
Send Secret Packages
Sending surprise packages is another way to let your loved one know that you are thinking about them. Gathering up little knick knacks that you think they may like, attaching hand-written notes or adding snacks and treats will make a lovely surprise at their doorstep. While in China, I gathered up traditional teas, unknown Chinese snacks and silly souvenirs to send to Josh without him knowing.
Share Your Daily Routines
If you are leading entirely separate lives, you both will begin to wonder what the other does all day long. When they say that they are at work, you want to picture their desk or their daily commute. Their favorite restaurant or the park they are always talking about, maybe you want to see that too. Take each other on a tour of your lives either through pictures or videos. It really makes a difference in how connected you will feel. I was able to see Josh’s new house in Colorado before I left for China and it really helped me to be able to picture his background when he spoke of doing laundry or spending time in his yard. Sometimes it helps to know those things about your partner, it makes you feel part of their world.
Get Deep With Your Conversation
Just talking over the internet sometimes began to feel frustrating for Josh and I. It seemed like the conversation was always the same and we started to get worried about why we couldn’t keep each other’s interest. Talking about your day sometimes isn’t enough and it is important to get creative with conversation. Ask one another deeper questions about dreams that they had the night before or what they would do in different made-up scenarios. Talk about future plans or try to ask your partner to describe their goals or a memorable story from their past. Conversation like this will help keep it interesting and can help you better connect.
Whether together or apart, any relationship can become tiring when it is not maintained properly and a long distance relationship heightens the possibility. With different time zones, schedules and surroundings, it is especially important to make the time to give your significant other the love and attention they deserve. Using these tips are what helped me keep my relationship strong and they can help you too. These helpful hints paired with the globelle girl intent of making the most of a non-ideal situation will be a recipe of success for any long-distance relationship.
Globelle gal Shannon Ullman is a freelance writer.