5 Concepts for Surviving a Long-Distance Relationship (LDR)

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470 miles. That’s how far apart my partner and I are on good days. However, not during the school year, we’re closer to 600. Here’s how we do it:

Mental Space

Just because you have physical space doesn’t mean you have mental space! Just hear me out, personal anecdote ahead:

My partner and I currently live in an LDR and sometimes, we fight. Even though most people would assume it’s easy to hang up the phone or turn off the Skype call, it isn’t. Needing mental space from your partner(s) is important in all relationships, taking a break to collect thoughts and emotions only helps keep your communication flow open and constant. 

Being in an LDR, it can feel twice as hard to do that. It can be so easy to say ‘nothing’ when your partner(s) aren’t right in front of you and can’t see your body language or hear your tone.

Push yourself to be open and honest. Sometimes I ask my partner for help getting into a headspace that’s away from whatever isn’t making me feel right. We agree to disagree because the time that we have together is precious. 

Plan ahead! 

Having dates set in advance when you know you’re going to see that special person(s) can help pull anyone out of rough patches. Counting down the days, setting goal times, and pushing to make things work is extremely rewarding when they happen. Even if your goal is to see your partner(s) within the next 5 years, it’s a start. Budgeting money, making arrangements, or even setting small milestones that lead up to seeing them, gives you an active role when you feel you’re further away than ever before.

Building a checklist is something you and your partner(s) can do together and keep each other accountable for. Being in college gives me the advantage of knowing when my school breaks are coming, but for my partner who isn’t in school, they don’t exactly get vacation time so planning ahead and asking for time off in advance is really important. 

Snail Mail or just E-Mail 

T-Shirts, letters, cards, songs, pictures, anything you can mail or send via social media. 

Personally, I live in my partner’s t-shirts when they’re away and I don’t want to know what it would be like without them. Pieces of you can remind your partner(s) that you’re thinking of them. 

Not everyone has the money to do the grandest of gestures, but a handwritten letter never goes out of style. Sending someone a song, a funny picture, maybe even flowers, if you have the accessibility, holds the potential to change their entire mood for the day or even the week. I make sure my partner is following all the same private meme pages on Instagram as I do so whenever I find something totally relatable to us, he gets it. 

Facetime or Skype; these are huge! Having access to these on a regular basis changes everything. My partner works at a bar and is usually on the opposite schedule as me, but my 20 minute break between morning classes is the perfect time for a wakeup call. 

Prioritizing. 

Schedules are hectic and sometimes it’s easy to rush into a busy day, week, or month and forget that filling in your partner(s) makes it easier to get through. Prioritizing time to talk to your partner about upcoming weeks and events that could be stressful, but having someone else there helps you know that you’re not in it alone. 

I always ask my partner what their schedule is like for the week so I can manage to make time for them, and vice versa. It’s hard, no doubt, but not impossible. 

You’re Not Alone.

It is you and your partner(s) against everything else.

Regardless of the physical distance, together, you make a team. Missing one another is hard, sometimes crying it out helps, and acknowledging that is what you may need is important. Be patient. Your partner(s) is experiencing the same thing. Distance is two ways. 

Photo via Samantha Weekley

I get really emotional some days, when the distance feels heavy and everything would be better if we could skip to the part where we are together all the time. Those days make me question whether or not it’s actually working, but then I remember what they told me; “We wouldn’t miss each other so much if it wasn’t working.”

I asked my partner, what they wish someone would tell them when we’ve been apart for a long time. Their response was, “That if you’re really dedicated to the other person, that it’s worth it and you’ll make it work. Like me to you and to making this blanket smell like me for when I give it to you soon.”  

Long Distance is hard, but not impossible.

Honesty is my go-to. My partner is always reminding me of the long term and short term benefits of being honest with each other. They work security for a living, so maybe it’s easy to assume I feel pretty ‘secure’ in our relationship, but on the other hand, everyone has bad days where the relationship isn’t 50/50. Trusting your partner(s) to be there to do a little extra for the rough days is important. That’s the type of thing that helps: dependability. We’re 600 miles away and I can still call them screaming when I see a spider. I’ve come to the realization that I do in fact need moral support when getting rid of scary bugs and I’m okay with that.

(So are they.) 

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