By Theresa Christine
If you’d asked me a year ago what I thought about long-distance relationships, I would have been like, “Nope. Nope nope nope.” Seriously. Relationships are hard enough when you’re in the same city as the person you’re dating, so add a couple hundred miles (or a couple thousand, or a couple thousand times three) and that just seems like a disaster. Or, I should say, seemed, because it is now March and I find myself in a long-distance relationship with a guy I met last year. Yup.
Obviously, I’ve changed my feelings on the subject. I’m happily dating a dude, and he lives in LA and I live in San Francisco. It’s the first healthy relationship in which I’ve found myself in years, so I’m reminded of what I deserve as a human being and what I have to offer as a partner. What I’ve discovered doesn’t just apply to people who find themselves in a long-distance love, though, and after reflecting on it I think any type of relationship can benefit from a few LDR lessons.
* The little things matter a lot.
Mid-day snapchats, surprise morning phone calls, and sweet “I’m thinking of you” texts. These tiny things add up, and we remain a presence in each other’s lives by doing them. Even if he’s not here, he’s making an effort to be involved in my day-to-day activities because he cares.
Whether or not your honey is in the same city as you, though, sweet reminders that you’re both thinking of the other really strengthen your bond. Little nothings require almost zero time, so if you want to incorporate this more into your relationship it’s a simple enough request (“I’d love if we could check in every day via text,” or “I think it would be really fun to send snapchats to each other.”). If it’s important to you, it will be important to your significant other.
* Remaining independent is important.
I’ve definitely fallen into the trap when I’m dating someone and make my life mostly about theirs. Don’t be that person. I live my life when my sweetie and I aren’t together, and he does the same. I go out, I meet cool people, I read, I write, I bike, I party, I sightsee, and the list goes on. I do tend to keep my phone close to check in, but I don’t let that distract me from enjoying myself.
So, you’re dating someone and that’s awesome, but, for your own sake, don’t let them be your only interest. I’ve been that person and it sucks. Do things you enjoy, and hang out with your friends minus your dude or lady next to you. You’ll quickly realize that you don’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be happy–instead, your S.O. is someone amazing and wonderful with whom you choose to share your life.
* Communication makes it happen.
I’m a straightforward gal to begin with, and it’s pretty easy to read my emotions. I have no qualms about asking for something that I want in a relationship, letting people know where I’m at emotionally, and telling someone when I’m upset. Side note: this took work, and many, many shitty love interests.
My general rule of thumb is if you ever find yourself in a sort of gray area about something, your feelings are valid and it’s best to discuss. This can happen in any relationship, no matter how close you live to each other. Know that the peace of mind you’ll find from being open and talking things out is far better than allowing emotions to boil inside you. The last time I was feeling upset, I talked it out with my partner and in doing so, I feel closer to him and we have more trust in each other.
* Experiences are better than things.
Part of my budget each month goes toward flying/busing/train-ing to my boothang and doing fun things with him. Simply getting to be together is a treat, and that time I impulsively bought a Megabus ticket to see him and visit LA for the first time means more to me than a new pair of shoes.
We’ve recently started exploring new places that neither of us had been to before, and this is the best! A couple that lives in the same city should totally take a weekend trip or an afternoon drive with no destination in mind. You’ll get to see each other in new territory and can experience the adventure together.
* Your time together is valuable.
My guy and I spend a lot of time apart, so when we do get to be together we’re naturally excited about it. Folks in LDRs don’t have the luxury of stopping by the apartment randomly with a bottle of wine or getting lunch together during work breaks.
Think about the truly valuable time you spend with your significant other. I’m not talking about when you’re working at your computer while they watch tv next to you. I’m talking about the times when you’re together and not distracted by other things, which are rare. Just make a note when you get those moments, and really treasure them, you lucky dog.
* All relationships take work.
In case you haven’t figured it out, there is no “one.
Relationships last because those involved want to put in effort. Before meeting my dude, I definitely believed that long-distance relationships were harder than normal (short-distance?) ones. Then I met my now-boyfriend, and in the first month of getting to know each other just through phone calls, I shared more about myself with him than I had done with someone in years.
All relationships are difficult and have their own unique challenges. It’s possible to have a healthy, happy relationship in spite of these difficulties, though. It certainly won’t always be easy, but there shouldn’t be a question that you’re equally invested in each other, and both interested in working through those obstacles together.