Long distance is one huuuge challenge. You may have doubts whether you should stay together, whether you can trust your partner, and problems in organizing how often to see each other. It can make or break you as a couple.
I have been with my partner for nearly 2 years now, we have moved around a lot for University placements, so we have experienced living on opposite sides of the country, living together in a city with opposite work schedules so we barely got to see each other, living on University campus with a ‘no cohabitation’ rule meaning we couldn’t live together, and now we are back on other sides of the country with over a year left to go until we can finally be together after we have graduated.
The first time we were apart I loved it. Planning surprises, planning special dates and activities for when my partner would visit, we had great times and great phone calls. Second time round – not so easy…
If you are already in an LDR, or are about to go into one and need an insight of what its like, then this is for you. I will start off with negatives because its nice to save the best news till last.
- Lack of physical touch and intimacy – Sometimes all i want is physical touch. I want to walk down the street holding his hand, I want to cuddle in bed, I want to see him come home from work and give him a kiss, I want to give or receive a back rub. Long-distance can get a bit lonely. Of course you still see your family and friends but you will miss that intimate touch with your loved one.
- The cost of travelling to see each other – We have really found this difficult because we are both students struggling to make ends meet each week. The cost of flights or petrol, as well as the time it takes to drive to the destination can be very costly. Usually we would see each other every three weeks, but we decided to go six weeks so we could have extra money to go rock climbing and go-karting as a date idea, and the long period of time went terribly. It nearly ended our relationship, but at least now we know to stick to every three weeks. We try to pay equally for everything so we both deposit $20 into a joint account each week which goes towards petrol for visits, and anything leftover we will use to go out for brunch in town or something. Figure out what your minimum and maximum times are in-between visits to try and establish a pattern of seeing each other that fits in with study and work commitments as well as coming up with the money. Check out my ‘financial advice‘ if you need help developing personal savings or positive habits regarding money.
- Communication – This can be a challenge if you have different schedules. I go to classes during the day then work at night to pay some of my school fees, and at one stage he was working nights. This meant that we wouldn’t get to have a proper phone-call for half a week until one of us had a day off. In an LDR, communication is ALL YOU HAVE most of the time so make it a priority to have regular phone-calls as well as some video calls.
- Trust – Make sure you are with a partner you can trust completely. With everything going on in your day-to-day life the last thing you need is to sit around worrying if your partner is chatting up other girls at a nightclub or doing things behind your back. You need to communicate about everything and always be honest with how you feel so you can talk it out.
- You can’t share everything with your loved one – Whether you went to a cafe or restaurant and had a really delicious meal, accomplished a new goal, or if you are just relaxing at home with a glass of wine reading a book, your partner isn’t there. Yes it is nice to have space and alone time sometimes, but when you try to explain exciting things over the phone it’s just not the same compared to if they were there to see it in person or experience it with you.
- It takes longer to truly get to know each other – I have found this very challenging. Because my boyfriend and I have never lived together whilst having the same work schedules to allow us to spend quality time, sometimes i wonder if I even know him! Not in a bad way, I just haven’t been able to experience life with him on a daily basis, only for short periods of time which are different to day-to-day life. I often wonder what it will be like when we finally get to move in together in a years time.
- You might not know when the next visit will be – It’s easier to remain positive when you have the next date to look forward to. I use a countdown calendar of the days till we can next see each other. With different work schedules (especially working in hospitality), you may not know if you will get that long-weekend off work or what assignments you will have due around that period of time. Sometimes we don’t know whether it will be two weeks time or a month!
- It can be hard to resolve fights and arguments – Because all you have is a phone to speak into and a voice to hear, it can be very restricting. You can’t go up to your partner and put your arms around them, or look into their eyes when they are speaking. Try not to hang up on each other or go days without getting it sorted.
- You don’t get to enjoy simple pleasures – Small things that other would take for granted such as saying hello and getting a hug when they come home from work at the end of the day, or deciding to go out for a coffee, or going for a walk together. We can’t do that, everything is planned ahead.
- It can be hard to be spontaneous – What if you decide to make a surprise visit to your partners house, and they aren’t home because they are working a 10-hour shift? Or you want to go on a little holiday or day trip but the other person doesn’t have any spare money? You can send surprises in the mail – for ideas click here, but it can be very limiting.
Now, finally onto..
- You get time to work on yourself – Whether there are certain goals you want to achieve, hobbies you want to enjoy or a career you want to pursue, you have time! You aren’t constantly distracted from being around someone else constantly. You can get up and get stuff done!
- The dates you go on will be one of the best parts of LDR – When you live with your partner, you may not worry about dates anymore because you want to save money or it is no longer ‘special’. When I see my partner I don’t want to just sit in a room, I want to go on adventures and make memories together! We do our best to explore our country (New Zealand) – dates include visits to wineries, jet skiing, rock climbing, go-karting, nights in hotels, he attends my modelling competitions, horse riding, bar/restaurant/cafe dates, going to the cinema, going on nature walks/hikes, camping, tasting new food, relaxing in thermal hot springs, and visiting each others family. There is so much to do, I even have a list of date ideas to get through!
- Everything is more ‘special’ – Cuddling, holding hands, going to the mall with their company, sitting on the couch eating cheese and crackers, looking into their eyes. When you don’t get to see each other much you really strive to take in every moment and appreciate every little thing.
- You can create surprises for each other – Sending their favorite food in the post, giving them ‘open when’ letters, planning things that they will enjoy. It makes everything so exciting and gives you something to work on as ‘projects’ when they aren’t around. It will make your partner happy to know you were thinking of them.
- You always have something to look forward to – Even though your time apart sucks, and goodbyes are the worst (I cry every time), you always have the next visit to look forward to and plan for.
- You learn to work on yourself first – How can someone love you if you don’t love yourself? Practice self-care and self-development. Learn new things, discover new hobbies, spend time with friends, remain active and fit, cook amazing meals, do well at your job, learn to control your finances, create goals for yourself, create travel plans if you want to travel in the future. There are so many things you can do to become the best version of yourself. Be the best you can be and your partner won’t be able to resist you!
- It can set you up for long-term success in your relationship – If you manage to make it through all the hurdles – the lack of physical touch, money problems, communication challenges, trusting each other, getting to know each other over a long period of time, resolving arguments over the phone and saying all of those goodbyes, then surely that sets you up for the long-run. Long distance seriously requires teamwork to cheer each other up, be on the same page and work together. If you can last through this and remain on a positive level, you can make it through anything.
I hope this helped you to gain a perspective. Tell me about your experience or ask any questions in the comments!
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