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Long Distance: It Works If You Work for It

A few pieces of advice from experience.

Long distance relationships. When people hear those few words they run in the other direction. Like really, what is the appeal to a relationship that is literally seeing each other once every couple weeks, if you're lucky, and then being apart for the majority of your time together? In short, there is absolutely none, but if you find the right person and you have patience, it can be one hundred percent worth it.

I have been in a long distance relationship now for over 3 years. My fiancé and I met at a New Year's Eve party. I was living in Ottawa at the time for my undergrad, and he was living in Windsor just finishing up university there. By the time that we really started talking I was back in Ottawa and our relationship basically started over text and Skype. We met halfway a few times in Toronto and Niagara Falls, just a 4- or 5-hour drive for each of us, so that by the time that I was done my schooling and heading back to Windsor, we had been in a relationship for about 4 months exclusively. So we spent the summer of 2014 together, and then fate decided that we should live apart once again when he was accepted into a Chiropractic College in Toronto. A four-year program that would keep our relationship long distance for another 4 years. Sure we had thought about breaking it off because our relationship was so new and we didn't really have that much invested in it or that much to lose, but we did have something to lose, each other… and neither of us were ready to say goodbye and now we here we are 3 and half years later, still long distance, but planning a wedding and a future together.

Recently my fiancé had told me that one of the girls that he goes to school with was just about to go into a long distance relationship, her boyfriend was moving away and she had to stay to finish school, and she had asked him how we did it, how on earth did we stay together for this long, and actually progress our relationship. So he told her all of the things that he could think of, although I know him and I'm sure that he got off topic pretty quickly, so I decided to write this for her to read, and take what she can from it and hopefully other people can too.

I am not going to sugar coat this story to make you think that long distance relationships are easy as long as you have found the right person and as long as you keep talking regularly things will stay the same. But nothing stays the same, and nothing is easy in a long distance relationship, even if it is the right person. But that is not to say that the hard times are not worth it because they 100% are. I love my fiancé more and more every day but there are challenges that people in a long distance relationship face that people who live in the same city will never have to experience, at least on the level that we do. It is true, the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes the heart grow lonely, jealous, and tired.

I wanted to write this to tell people what its like to be in a healthy and productive long distance relationship, from the perspective of a person that had very little faith in relationships previously, let alone long distance ones. I had thought about making it a “10 steps to having a happy long distance relationship” but I decided against that because I can’t tell you that those ten steps would work for you. Every relationship is different because it is the people in it, not the situation, that makes the relationship last. So I will tell you the things that I have experienced in the last three and a half years and I will let you take what you can from it, that's all I can do.

So here we go, I don't really know where to start to be honest.

I guess I should start at the beginning, because in the beginning it just sort of feels like the other person is on vacation, you talk a lot and it seems like a new and fun adventure for you guys as a couple, to giggle at night over face time or send each other pictures of what your doing throughout the day. Sure you miss them, but it almost feels like its going to be a quick little vacay and that person will be back before you know it.

So fast forward to a couple weeks down the line, because I know that it will be easy to make time for your partner within the first few weeks, because it's new and it's all your thinking about. But a few weeks down the line, your partner gets busy at work or school (or whatever the reason that they moved cities) and you are continuing on with your life, and it seems harder and harder to make time for each other. You aren't constantly thinking about them every second, you forget to miss them as much as you did a few weeks ago… and then you remember, and let me tell you, you will feel like a horrible person. You’ll think “Oh my God I can’t believe I forgot to miss them, how could I do that, what kind of partner am I if I don't think about them and how much I miss them. What if I forget how it feels to have them here?” You will call them immediately and remind them how much you love them and that you miss them and you're sorry you forgot about them. And they will calm you down. So my first piece of advice is to not beat yourself up over “not missing them” or “forgetting that they are gone.” Your brain has to worry about other things throughout the day, and so does theirs. If they were still living near you that you would have the same amount of time not thinking about them, and that's okay.

That leads me to my second piece of advice. Like I just said, its okay to “forget” to miss them, but you need to make sure you remember to make yourself available for them. When you live near each other or together, its easy to not talk throughout the day because you know that you will be coming home to them at the end of the day to see them. It's not much different now, if you don't get to talk much throughout the day, you both need to make sure that you make time, if not every day, every other day, to sit down and talk to each other. On the phone, on FaceTime, on Skype, even through text if you can’t seem to make time for the call (and you will be surprised how often you “can’t” make time in the beginning). Oh no? You don't think it will? Not you right? You and your partner are different, you will make time for each other no matter what. Well I’m sure that there are some of you out there that may not experience this, but I can tell you from experience, on both sides of this relationship, it got harder and harder to “find time” to call. It's not a bad thing! Not if you don't let it happen all the time, make time. Its not as hard as it seems, and even if it is hard, you have to do it anyway. There is no way this relationship will last if you aren't talking and making time for each other. But there is a limit, you have to sympathize with your partner, you wouldn't stop them from going out with their friends on a Friday night if they were living at home, so why do it when they are away?

Oh… ya… because you aren't there with them, right? Oh I know the feeling, it burns in the pit of your stomach, the jealousy is starting. I don't care who you are, or how much you trust your partner, the jealousy will come. So this is my third piece of advise, keep your jealousy to yourself. I know I can’t tell you to not be jealous, that would be a waste of time, most people are jealous. Be completely prepared to constantly reassure your partner that they are the only one for you and they have nothing to worry about, especially in the first while. Although in this case, bringing up the jealousy that you feel on the regular will only make you fight, and fighting when you are 2000 miles away is just as easy as fighting when you are together; it's the making up from a fight when you are 2000 miles away that is much harder. If you are a couple that has decided to continue to be together long distance, then you trust that person enough to not cheat on you. You have to, there is no other way. If you find that you really don't trust them as much as you thought you did, then you need to talk it out and make sure that both of you are on the same page. If you find your self on the other side of this, the other side being that you find yourself wanting to cheat, or cheating, then you need to have the decency to break it off with your partner because you clearly aren’t ready for the commitment that comes with long distance. That's the part that I think a lot of people forget when they become long distance… no sex.

I guess that leads to the fourth bit of advice, always have something to look forward too. I hope that your partner doesn't move so far that you can only see them on holidays and special occasions, and I really hope that they don't move so far so that you can’t even see them during those special times. But even if they do, this still applies, have a date, the next possible date that you will be able to see that person and hammer it into your head. That date will help you get through some rough times, at least I know it did for my fiancé and I know sometimes it's hard not to get swept up in fast paced work and school and life in general, and sometimes all you are going to want to do is curl up next to your partner and take a breath away from life. So I found that it was so much easier to get over those feelings by texting or calling and telling them how excited I was to see them, even if it was months away. I am not going to even touch the subject of phone sex, that is something that you and your partner can work out on your own, if you are comfortable with that or not. Either way, you need to make each other feel like they are wanted, you don't have to be suer sexual about it, just remind them on a daily basis that they are beautiful or handsome or whatever your personal words of attraction are. It is so important, and it really does help.

It doesn't sound too hard right?

It's not for everyone; long distance takes a lot of trust and love and patience. It also takes a lot of time. I can not stress enough how important it is to make time for your partner when they are not around. If you want to keep the relationship stable, you need to talk, or you will both change so much in the mean time that you will barely recognize your relationship when you find time to see each other.

It can work, if you work for it. 

Make time for each other.

It doesn't matter how long you are apart, if you can still smile like this when you are together.

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Long Distance: It Works If You Work for It
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