As I was growing up, I always vowed to never ever get stuck in a long distance relationship. I thought they were doomed from the start. Then, after a twist and turn of events, my boyfriend of almost 4 years moved to Iowa. He would be there from April to the end of August. We would be apart for 137 days. I refused to become the stereotype I had built in my head. After surviving the distance, I wanted to put together a guide on how we conquered the odds.
Get Tech-y With It
We are lucky to be working with 21st-century resources when it comes to long distance relationships. Honestly, I don’t know how people did it before cell phones and computers. My man and I had at least one Skype date a week. Skype is amazing because it allows us to see each other instead of just talking over the phone. The one downside to using Skype is dealing with connection issues. So make sure you stick close to your router!
If you want to video chat while simultaneously Netflixing together, there’s Rabb.it. You log in, send your S.O. the link to your private chat room, and then you’re able to pull up any kind of streaming site you’d like! Who said a long distance relationship means no movie dates?
If you’re losing track of the days, download an app like Dreamdays. This app will create a countdown for you, so you can keep track of the days until you’re reunited with your S.O.! You get to personalize each countdown with background photos and recorded voice memos. Seeing that “Days Until” number go down helped me a lot while surviving LD.
Even if you aren’t in high school, I recommend using Snapchat. It lets you send fun pictures to each other that disappear afterwards. You can use the silly filters to send videos, reminding your S.O. why they love you. Plus, it’s always nice to pull out your phone and see their face smiling back at you.
Make A Schedule
One of the hardest parts of a long distance relationship is knowing one another’s schedule. If the person who moved is starting a new job, the other will have to work around the flux of job training schedules. The same goes for class schedules if you or your S.O. is a student. If one of you moved to help take care of a family member, you’ll have to work around the family’s schedule. It can feel a bit overwhelming at first. So I suggest you take the first two-three weeks to see what patterns develop in both of your daily/weekly lives.
Does your S.O. go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday evening? Do they have class from 8 to 3 on Monday? Sit down and figure it out and then choose spots of free time for each other. For me, Taylor and I usually Skyped in the evening once he was home from work or the gym and we knew family wouldn’t be interrupting us.
It won’t be perfect. Some weeks will be wonky and change, but something is better than nothing when it comes to quality time.
Communication Is Key
This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be amazed at how quickly couples forget to really talk to each other – especially when there is a great distance between them. Don’t think about a topic, just talk about everything. Talk about your day, even if it was boring. Talk about how you’re feeling and how you’re coping with the distance. Joke around and be silly. Talk about the future. Plan your next call or Skype session together. Just remember, communication is the key to making a long distance relationship work.
In this generation of technology, we have more or less forgotten about snail mail. The programs I listed above are amazing, but they lack the personal touches. Break out the pen and paper for your S.O. Pinterest has some amazing care package ideas, too. Grab a box and fill it with goodies! Props if your box has a theme! I myself bought an adorable, punny set of postcards for my boyfriend on Etsy.
Give Each Other Some Space
This one is by far the hardest. You have to give each other enough space to grow as an individual human being. If you are sitting on the brink of being codependent, like I used to be, this is horrendously difficult. You have to talk to each other but also sit back and know that sometimes you won’t be able to talk because your S.O. is at work, an internship, school, or out with friends and family. You have to let them, even if you feel the need to stay connected all day to compensate for the distance. Let them find themselves outside of you. When they’re with you later, you will both be better and stronger for your time apart.
Surround Yourself With Friends And Stay Busy
Your S.O. can’t be the only one using their day to find themselves. Fill up your schedule with the things and people you love. Make brunch dates, beach days, and movie nights with your friends. Have you been wanting to teach yourself to paint but not had the time? Well – here you go! Hit the store and pick up some supplies, so that when the loneliness hits you have something to do. Reconnecting with old friends is another great way to pass the time. And if you’ve lost contact with them you could always find a person online using a service such as Kiwi Searches. I think this summer apart from my boyfriend would have been 100x harder without all my girlfriends at the ready to keep me busy.
Take A Deep Breath
There will be days when the world wants to tell you that you can’t do it. That it’s not worth it. Your brain may try to play with you, convince you that the other person is cheating or could be in trouble and you won’t know. There will be days where you panic. Just breathe.
My go-to is diaphragmatic breathing: breathe in through your nose with your hand on your stomach so that you feel it rise with your breath. Breathe in with a count of 5. Hold for 5. Breathe out through your mouth to a count of 5. Repeat until you feel calm.
Express Your Needs
Don’t be afraid to tell your S.O. what you need. This may be that you need emotional support when you’re missing them, a pep talk when you’re getting ready for the day, Snapchats of their face to make you smile, a “home safe and sound” text when they get home for the day, or space. Try your best not to bottle everything up inside you, afraid they won’t respect your needs. If they don’t want to be there for you, ditch ’em. You deserve only those who can be there for you without hesitation.
In the end, it’s up to you and your S.O. to find what works best for you. Do you have tips or tricks that I didn’t mention that worked for you? Let us know!
About Alyssa Nicole
Alyssa is a recent college graduate from the College of Charleston. When she isn’t working on She Dances Brave, she can be found rolled up in blankets binge watching crime TV on Netflix – coffee in hand. She loves cats, tattoos, haunted houses, stringy lights, yard flamingos, and Harry Potter. Find her here: www.shedancesbraveblog.blogspot.com