10 Tips for Surviving a Long Distance Relationship
It’s been a little over a year since Alexa and I began our long-distance relationship. We met through Bumble right before I was set to move out of the Washington, DC Area, the place Alexa and I both called home at the time. I wasn’t looking to meet anyone, but the universe had other plans and gifted me with this wonderful human. I knew there was something special about her from the beginning and knew I didn’t want to let her go as I prepared to move across the country for graduate school ...thus began our long-distance relationship.
Let’s be honest, when people hear the term long-distance relationship their reaction usually goes something like this “I would never want to be in one” or “Oh, those never work out.” People are quick to judge these relationships because the idea of one can be uncomfortable. But with the right person, a successful, healthy long-distance relationship is possible (and honestly, if it’s unhealthy, it's a pretty good sign that that relationship probably isn’t the best for you). Check out this handy list that Alexa and I have compiled for surviving a long-distance relationship:
1. Figure out a communication schedule that works for both of you
There is a lot of advice out there that says not to over communicate if you’re in a LDR. Honestly, I think that’s a load of crap. Instead, work with your partner to figure out your communication expectations and preferred styles. Be open and willing to compromise. Alexa and I both knew we would want to talk at least once a day so we found a time that works for both of us while taking into account the three hour time difference.
2. Be flexible (a continuation of communication)
Things come up, life happens. If you or your partner needs to push the time you talk an hour it’s better to go with the flow than get upset about it. Sometimes there are days where I’ve been running around school and Alexa’s been running around work all day where we just don’t feel like talking right away and that’s okay. We just let the other know we need a little “me time” before we hop on the phone. Finding a time to talk where both people can be fully present is so much more rewarding than trying to force a schedule.
3. Be respectful of each other’s time
This is super crucial for those doing LDRs across multiple time zones. Be respectful. I’m three hours behind Alexa. She is usually heading to bed just as I’m winding down for the evening. Sometimes I’ll leave her a text at night just as a fun surprise for when she wakes up, but more often than not I try and give her a little bit of peace while she’s sleeping. Let’s be serious, no one likes their phone blowing up while they are trying to get some sleep. Take into consideration your partner’s schedule. When are they at work? Do they like to go to the gym? Do they have recurring appointments they need to be at? Did they have plans to hang out with friends? Just taking into account these small things can help alleviate any problems before they become a point of contention.
4. Try to see the distance as an opportunity
One of the things both Alexa and I really love about our LDR is that it’s given us each the opportunity to further explore our careers. We’re both fiercely independent ladies and needed someone who would support us in being just that. Stop looking at an LDR as something that might hold your relationship back, instead start seeing it as an opportunity to not only grow your love together, but to also grow your love for yourself!
5. Use your words
Since you and your partner don’t get to be physically near each other as much as couples who live in the same vicinity, the subtle nuances of body language will definitely go unnoticed (unless you and your partner are FaceTiming everyday). Verbalize your thoughts and feelings. If your partner is doing something that makes you happy, tell them. If they are doing something that doesn’t spark joy within you, tell them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of relying on your partner to read your mind, but try and get out of that habit and verbalize your feelings. By doing so that opens the door for healthy communication between you and your partner, that will also carry over when are together face to face.
6. Check in with each other about your goals
This one might seem weird, but honestly, it has helped Alexa and I so much. It’s okay to check in with your partner about your goals for your relationship and you should check in with each other! Make sure you’re on the same page with where you see things going and where you want them to go. Talk about your expectations. Discuss things like how long do you see the relationship being long-distance? Is it your goal for it to end in some form of major commitment? Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about these things.
7. Go beyond the screen
Technology is great and all but have you ever gotten a surprise hand-written card in the mail from the love of your life and just felt your heart melt into a literal puddle of emotions? In all seriousness, technology is a godsend but it’s just the act of going the extra step that can be something that makes your partner feel a little bit of extra love. Alexa and I send each other little gifts when we know the other is facing a stressful time. We’re both huge fans of Lush and send each other little surprise boxes all the time. I also like surprising her with little cards when she’s not expecting it. These little gestures really go a long way.
8. Don’t over schedule your visits
It’s easy to fall into the trap of over scheduling your visits when you do get the opportunity to spend time together. On Alexa’s first visit out to Seattle I had a huge list of things I wanted us to do together and new friends I wanted her to meet. I could have easily scheduled us a jam-packed long weekend full of activities, but then I realized what I was doing and dialed it back. And I’m so glad I did. Doing long distance really makes you appreciate the time you get to spend together.
9. Practice being present with each other
Being present is possibly one of the best things you can do to make a LDR work. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a little spacey. My mind is always moving 1,000 miles a minute and in 5,000 different directions. I can zone out when people talk to me. Thank goodness Alexa is patient and is good at giving me little reminders to be more present. But what does being present look like? It’s practicing active listening. It’s asking your partner questions about their day and the things that they are saying. It’s mono-tasking instead of multitasking. And most importantly, it’s making sure your partner feels like they’re getting the whole you.
10. Learn how to be there for each other
One of the most frequent questions we get is how we’re able to be there for each other without actually being there. And it’s a very valid question. We’ve developed our own ways of being able to be there for each other. Whether it’s me calling Alexa when I’m stressed about school and need a little reassurance or her calling me when her car floods and feeling completely overwhelmed. We know that no matter what, the other is only ever a phone call away.