When people hear “long-distance relationship” they get that *yikes* look on their face. That *how long will that last, good luck to you* face that screams doubt. There is no denying that long-distance relationships are difficult, but they don't have to be.
Seware and I did the long-distance thing for close to two years before we finally closed the 1,700 mile gap and moved in together. The gap didn't start that big, though. He was living in New Jersey and I was in Western Massachusetts before the company he works for relocated to Grand Cayman. We took turns driving to visit each other every couple of weekends, had countless see-you-laters, and regularly talked about how great it would be when we didn't need to do that anymore. Then the big news came that he would be moving to the Caribbean. Say what?!
Things were bound to get more difficult but it was an opportunity not to be passed, so he took it. Each see-you-later got more difficult as the chunks of time between our visits grew. I probably flew down here 5 times before we figured out how I could join him. Let me tell you, that time was TOUGH, but I truly think that it helped make our relationship stronger. Sounds cliche, I'm sure, but I mean it. Whether the distance is short- or long-term, issues are sure to arise and take a toll on the longevity of your relationship. Because we beat the distance, I thought I'd share how we overcame it.
1) Trust each other.
It's way too easy to be presumptuous and imagine the worst when you are going to sleep and waking up miles away from your significant other. I'd be lying if I said I didn't picture Caribbean babes strutting down the beach in their teensy thong bikinis, and was even more anxious when I actually saw it on my first visit! But I had to remind myself that trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Not only would I be driving myself crazy if I kept thinking that way, but I would also be making an unfair judgment against my boyfriend, who'd never done anything to compromise my trust before… so why would he now?
Trust is a given, but it can be one of the toughest bridges to cross when you're battling distance. Be open, be honest, talk about your day, talk about the people you surround yourself with, go out of your way to communicate regularly and don't be cryptic. Don't make it easy for him or her to create scenarios in their minds, because they're missing out on many details of your life while you're apart! Trust until you're given a real, legitimate reason not to (which will hopefully never happen!).
2) Schedule your visits AND be spontaneous.
Our situation was a bit out of the ordinary once Seware moved even further away, so of course visits were planned because, well, we had to fly… but we scheduled even when we were within driving distance of each other. It gives you something to look forward to rather than wondering when you'll see each other next. Budget and schedules may not always permit the travel, but if you schedule then you can anticipate the expenses and necessary time off well in advance.
On top of those scheduled visits, be open to spontaneity. Did your weekend free up unexpectedly? Rush home, pack a bag and hit the road! The unplanned meet-ups are even more exciting than the planned ones because you didn't anticipate seeing each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder but I will take being physically together over absence any day.
3) Meet halfway.
Literally, not figuratively. It's easier to meet more frequently if you find a good halfway point between your two locations and meet each other there. We found that Norwalk, CT was almost exactly the same distance from both of us, cutting the driving time in half and making post-work travels much easier (I-91 traffic during rush hour is no joke!). Sure, you have to splurge on a hotel room and eating out, but it's fun and frees up a bit more of your time. Any and all extra time is worth it when you live far apart.
4) Video chat.
FaceTime, G-chat, Skype – God's gifts to earth, I tell ya! Phone calls are fine and dandy but actually being able to SEE each other when you speak makes it a little easier to forget that you are miles away from each other. The fortunate thing about these services is that they are free so long as you have WiFi, so you don't have to worry about racking up the minutes or using up your data. Not only should you schedule your visits but you should schedule your video dates! We Skype-d each other at least once a week and often planned out our calls in advance. Treat it like a meeting or an appointment if you have to – not that talking to your man is an obligation! – so that you aren't inclined to watch one more episode and push it off until it's too late to do it.
You can even make it fun by setting up your phone and going about your business as usual; make your meals at the same time, settle in with your book before bed, even work at your desk while the video is on! You may be busy but it's nice to be able to take a peak at each other now and then.
5) Talk about what's next – regularly.
Distance is tough, so it's comforting to be reminded that your person isn't going anywhere. Talk about your future together, near and distant; When are you getting together next? What kinds of activities are you going to do? Assuming you will one day live together, when are you going to close the gap? Where are you going to live? Are marriage and children in the future? Reinforcing the fact that the distance is temporary can do a lot for your positivity and happiness! And positivity is key in any long-distance relationship.
6) Don't forget to focus on yourself
Sounds easy, considering your person isn't physically with you so who else are you going to focus on? But the mind wanders, stresses and hurts at times. Remain positive and keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel, but use this time alone to focus on YOU. Let's say that you are separated because your significant other has a work obligation. Support and celebrate their strides while chasing your own dreams. The time that Seware and I spent apart was hard but it was also the time that I started the freelance business that allowed me to move here to Grand Cayman. If you have a project or goal that you are working toward fulfilling, take advantage of the time apart and hit the ground running! Not only will you be helping yourself but it's a great way to distract the mind.
Long-distance relationships are no walk in the park – trust me when I say that we had our fair share of difficulties – but it can be made easier! At the end of the day you both have the same goal… to live a long and happy life together. That happiness relies on trust, communication and most importantly, effort.