Continuing on with my Valentine’s Day and relationship themed posts this week, I thought I’d give some of my thoughts and some advice that helps me get through my long-distance relationship with my boyfriend Francisco. I am by no means an expert, I still struggle frequently. However, this is what helps us and this is just generally my thoughts on LDR’s.
Growing up reading romance novels and watching romantic comedies, there was always a pretty common theme with long distance relationships: they were painful, messy, and never lasted. Pretty bleak and depressing, right?
Well, Francisco and I didn’t start out long distance. Actually, it was the exact opposite. Our first date lasted fourteen hours. Normally, I’d day we only parted ways for class, when I was at sorority events, and when he would go hang out with his guy friends every night. So easily I’d say we spent at least fifteen hours a day. That’s a lot. And it was that way for the first nine months of our relationship.
So the shock of being separated was huge. No longer could we take naps in each other’s arms. We couldn’t just lay in bed and watch Boy Meets World or movies or cuddle or talk any time we wanted. Just thinking about it hurts now.
Being an hour and a half apart isn’t as bad as a lot of other couples, but it’s still not fun either. We try to see each other every other week or every two weeks, since he works and I have sorority stuff and school constantly filling up my schedule. Sometimes we see each other in blocks of two days (I stay the night at his parent’s house or he stays at my family’s house). Sometimes we just spend a day together.
The goal is that we make each second in those trips count. We usually plan out a little beforehand what we are up to. We laugh, talk, catch up, hug, kiss, hold hands, cuddle, and play. We do everything we love doing normally. I will admit usually the first hour or so together feels a little weird. I mean, sometimes I haven’t seen him in weeks. It takes a second to get used to talking to him in person, wondering what random stories I’ve told him already. But we do settle back into how we normally are. Here’s my tips for those so important times you get to see each other in person:
1.) Relish every second. Put your phone away. Connect with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Talk, laugh, tell stories, catch up. It’s so important to reconnect.
2.) Use physical touch. Because you don’t have the chance to do it normally, hold hands when you are sitting in the car or walking around a park or mall. Hug every chance you get. Kiss constantly. Cuddle and snuggle on the couch. The smell of Francisco is so calming to me, so I’m constantly smelling him as well haha.
3.) If you have an important issue, talk about it and move on. This is tough. Because the time together is so rare and important, if you have an issue with the person, address it directly, resolve it, and move on. If I’m feeling slightly ignored by him, I’ll tell him, we’ll figure out a solution, and then go on. That’s so important whether you are in a close relationship or long distance.
4.) Have fun! Do you wanna go to your normal hang out spots (for us Target is always a must!) or visit someplace new (the zoo! A park!)? I think you need a balance of both. We always settle down and watch a season of Friends together, and then we usually go out to eat and do simple things like go to Target or a park. We just enjoy each other’s presence!
5.) Live in the moment. This is the hardest thing for me. At some point in our visits, I start dreading the moment we have to part. This makes me sad and worried, which always ruins the moment. Try as best as you can to enjoy your love’s company, and not think about saying goodbye. My boyfriend and I have even recited the Winnie the Pooh quote “How lucky am I to have something that is so hard to say goodbye?” Try to make it positive. It’s hard, but it’s less painful.
6.) Try to always set a date for the next time you’ll see each other. It gives you something to look forward to.
Being apart isn’t a piece of cake either. Being up at college, where so many of our memories were made is so painful at times, especially when I’m at the dining hall where we met or by the dorms we lived in. It’s still a struggle for me. But here’s some of my advice.
1.) Have set times when you talk on the phone. We talk every night before bed. Sometimes we talk for five minutes sometimes for an hour. But that communication is vital in any relationship, particularly a long distance one.
2.) Text, Facebook, and Skype. Use all the technology you can. They are all tools to help you communicate and feel connected.
3.) When you are really sad and missing the other person, try to distract yourself. Francisco does by playing video games. I do by watching The Office or Scrubs on Netflix. Or by hanging out with my sorority sisters. Or journaling. When that doesn’t work, I write a letter to him. Rarely do I ever give it to him, but it helps ease that temporary pain.
4.) For me, looking at pictures of us together helps. And reading old texts.
5.) Ask your boyfriend/girlfriend for a piece of clothing or something you can associate with them (it really helps if it has their scent). My boyfriend gave me two shirts of his to sleep in and his hoodie. I gave him a Pillow Pet for Valentine’s Day last year (a penguin named Paul).
6.) Try to find friends that are also in long distance relationships. It always helps to have people that know the exact same struggles. Be warned though, that all people have different coping mechanisms and each relationship is unique.
Some other good advice I’ve read that helps me, is never make decisions when you are mad or sad. There’s times I’ve missed him so much, that I want to break up to ease the hurt. But as we’ve discussed, that wouldn’t make a difference, we’d still miss each other just as much, if not more. Another piece of advice, is never start doubting your relationship or distance or your trust in your partner. The second you let doubt in, you are making it worse. Also, try to think positively. I tell myself that I’m thankful for the distance because it has allowed me to focus more time on school, allowed me to take two leadership positions in my sorority (something I never would have had time to do before with him there), and to learn to become more independent on my own.
It’s hard. There’s no doubt. But at the end of the day, if he is my boyfriend, that’s all that matters.
Have you had any experience with long distance relationships? What helps you when you miss that person?