Thriving in Long Distance Relationships

I don’t talk about my relationship very often and have never done so on such a public platform, but as of Apr. 1 it will have been 6 months since I last saw my boyfriend. We have been together since high school (I’m graduating college now) and he is out of the country for a year due to work. He’s 6,000 miles away on the opposite side of the world. I joke that makes the earth an idiot sandwich. I love him very much.

So, how is it going? Great actually.

This is just my experience of course, but I think the main trick with any relationship is realizing that you can’t force people to love you. As corny as it sounds, you should strive to be the sort of person you’d want to hang out with. Would I want to hang out with someone who is clingy and mopey? Nope, so why should I expect someone else to?

As I have gotten older I’ve grown to genuinely enjoy my own company. I don’t feel lonely when I’m by myself, because being alone doesn’t prohibit me from taking part in fun activities usually undertaken by groups of people. I love to sit quietly in cafes or public spaces to draw or write. I love to take long drives on my own just thinking about life. I have friends who support me and who are willing to spend time with me but honestly I feel most energized waking up in the morning with the understanding that the only person I answer to that day is myself.

The two of us value our freedom to make our own choices and bristle at the suggestion of co-dependency. The agency he has forge his own path in life is what led him to joining the career he did. My commitment to my own future has me studying at university. Right now, our life choices don’t overlap much–and that’s totally okay.

People come in and out of your life all the time, every day. Some people are with you only for a fleeting moment, handing you your coffee, giving you directions, while some people are with you for much longer. Each person you come in contact with helps you to grow as a person and learn something new about the world. When people leave your life one way or the other, whether as friends or as strangers, don’t be sad or angry that they have to go. Instead, thank them for their time and their life lessons.

This thought has helped me to stop fighting against the flow of the water and let it carry me along instead. If you feel miserable thinking about your relationship, your stomach is constantly tied up in knots, or you’re treading on eggshells around the other person then stop right here before reading further, because that sort of relationship is not worth being in. Your partner should add to your overall enjoyment of life, not detract from it.

Here are some healthy tips if you’re faced with the prospect of a long distance relationship:

1. Keep lines of communication open

The modern world offers a plethora of communication tools from Skype, Snap, phone calls, letter writing, texting, etc.  Establish times in the day or every few days when you know you’re both free. We text each other throughout the day and generally have a Skype call a few times a week. Visually seeing the other person whether by Snap, healthy social media accounts, or physical photos in the mail is a great way to keep up on their daily day and remember what they look like. There’s nothing sweeter than opening a handwritten letter with photographs inside.

2. It is a two way street

The both of you need to want the relationship to work. It’s silly I have to say this, but I see a lot of relationships around me where there’s really only one person in the partnership. I return to what I said earlier: you can’t force someone to love you. You can’t drag someone through the motions of a relationship if they don’t want to be with you. The relationship is over at this point despite whatever responsibilities you may have towards each other. That’s not love. That’s a cell phone contract.

3. No casual negativity

My boyfriend and I talk about everything together. However, I’m conscious of how much of my negative emotions I unload onto him. It’s easy to text “I miss you,” “I’m miserable,” “I’m so sad without you here” about 2,493 times without realizing that’s all you ever say. Don’t have negativity be the only thing you’re associated with. If you’re always a weeping willow that’s not a lot of fun to be around. Plus, these sort of unsubstantial negative comments have the nutritional comment of cardboard. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and it isn’t healthy to eat a lot of it. I save the unproductive melodrama for my journal.

4. Find a support system

These days I find I’m spending a lot more time with my friends and family that I would have otherwise spent with him. This isn’t a bad thing. With my relationship in such a good place it’s nice to see old friends I haven’t caught up with in a while. Remember that it is okay to feel lonely… but it is false to assume that with an absent partner you are alone in the world. Find a support system of friends and family to lean on if you need it.

5. Be your own person

Continue your life unhindered. Establish a routine of school, work, travel, hobbies, etc to form your own memories while the other person does the same. Take advantage of this time apart to improve yourself physically or pick up a skill. This moment you are in is not forever. Make good use of it.

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(Photo by Allyson Morin/Stories for Strangers)

Love and be loved,

Allyson

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