I have the rare privilege of not only being in a long distance dating relationship, but also being in a long distance best friendship (sarcasm noted). I’m not going to lie, it can be hard sometimes. In fact, sometimes it feels like the most difficult thing in the world. I get jealous when I see random couples together at the grocery store and I wish that I could just run mundane errands with my boyfriend. I see pictures on Instagram of friends hanging out and I wish that I could just talk to my best friend face-to-face for even an hour.
I give death glares to anyone who complains about not being able to see their significant other for ONE WHOLE DAY. It’s a different kind of loneliness to feel so close to someone emotionally, yet be so far away physically. It’s not being able to share in the little things or see each other after a rough day. It’s wishing you could surprise them at work or meet together for a lunch break. It’s growing frustrated because most of your conversations seem to take place through pixelated, blurry computer screens. It’s being jealous of people who get to see them every day.
Yet, it can also be a beautiful and special kind of blessing. Now, I am by no means a dating expert. I know that every situation is different and will present different challenges. But after being in a long distance relationship for almost a year and a half now, I have learned some things along the way. Here are some important keys to making your long distance relationship not only work, but thrive.
Set Clear Expectations
Long distance relationships come in many different shapes and sizes. You might live a few hours away from your boyfriend or live on the other side of the world. You might have always dated long distance or maybe a new job has caused you to move to a different city. Whatever the case, it’s important to discuss expectations. Talk about how often you’re planning on seeing each other, when each of you are going to visit the other, how long you’re going to talk on the phone at night, and so forth. If you each know what to expect, then you will be less likely to get upset or frustrated over the distance. For me, the most challenging times of dating long distance have been the times when we didn’t know when we would see each other next, so making it a point to communicate, and communicate often, about make short term and long term plans can give you peace and something to look forward to. It can be easy to doubt the relationship if it seems like neither party is putting in the effort or caring about making time to see each other, so having conversations about what to expect reminds you that the relationship is worthwhile and can work in its own way.
Take Advantage of Technology
Yes, our iPhones can sometimes distract from reality. But when it comes to long distance relationships, the advancement of technology can really be a blessing. Familiar video chat services, like Skype and FaceTime, allow you to see each other when you talk, and although it’s not the same as being in the same room together, it’s still pretty darn close. Other websites, like Rabbit, make it easy to watch Netflix and YouTube together–perfect for couples who love movie nights or binging TV shows together. Social media platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram, can be fun ways to let the other know you’re thinking of them throughout the day. Of course, you can even go old-school and send each other snail mail. In today’s world, there are so many creative ways to connect through technology and over distance. Figuring out something that works for you can be fun, special, and help you appreciate your relationship for what it is, instead of what it’s not.
Don’t Feel Like You Have to do Everything
I’m guilty of seeing my boyfriend after weeks of being apart and feeling like we have to make up for lost time. I want to go out to eat for every meal, see a new movie, go on a spontaneous date, take him to meet all my friends, and do a million other busy activities because those are the things we normally can’t do together. But being in a relationship, especially a serious one, is more than just sharing in the extravagant moments. It’s becoming best friends with each other and learning how to be happy doing absolutely nothing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out on dates or meet each other’s friends when you have the opportunity (you should!), but don’t feel pressured into doing everything. Take the time to just sit at home and watch a movie, or have a good conversation face-to-face. Though it may seem like you’re wasting time, the quiet moments are usually some of the best and most beneficial to seeing your relationship grow.
Cherish the Time Spent Apart
In long distance relationships, it can sometimes feel like you are only dating when you are with each other face-to-face. Like, the only moments that count are the ones spent physically with each other. However, that mentality can be destructive. I have had to learn that Skype dates and distance are simply a reality of my relationship. Of course, there are many times I wish I could see my boyfriend every day, but the more I’ve accepted long distance, the more I’ve actually learned to embrace it. For me, long distance has helped me to communicate more honestly and effectively. I want to share about my day and listen to my boyfriend share about his. Since most of our relationship is spent only talking with each other, I feel like we have actually grown closer together and know each other more deeply. While I can’t speak for anyone else, I don’t think that our communication level would be as high as it is if we hadn’t dated long distance. That’s something I’m thankful for, but you may find something different that makes you grateful for your dating situation. Whatever that may be, focusing on how long distance grows you and builds you up is so important. It helps you appreciate your story and understand that, above all, God has something to teach you through your relationship.
What are some things that help you in your long distance relationship? What are the things you’re thankful for? Comment below and let us know!