Even in the beginning of my and Andrew’s relationship, I knew we would eventually have to do long-distance because of his dream to go to medical school. Except thinking about it and planning for it is are so much different than actually doing it. Thankfully, Andrew and I had been dating for a year and a half when he moved so we had a strong foundation to build upon. Honestly, no matter how strong your relationship is, long-distance is going to be hard. Really hard. But, here we are, 9 months later and I feel like we are at our strongest point yet. We are nowhere near perfect and still have more learning to do but long distance forces you to grow..whether you want to or not!
I’ve learned you NEED the following in a long distance relationship:
- Communication. Even if you are the best communicator in the world, learning to find time for each other in the midst of busy schedules is probably the hardest part of long distance. I would consider myself to be a strong communicator and it comes pretty naturally to me. Communication doesn’t come as easy for Andrew. I used to take it personally that Andrew sometimes wouldn’t text me throughout the day or call me at night. But, over time and through many conversations about this, I’ve learned that Andrew is someone who compartmentalizes parts of his life and is very task-oriented. Meaning, he has to get through studying before he thinks about responding to a text or calling me. Andrew has worked hard on trying to communicate more throughout the day and I have worked on being more understanding when he’s not able to. We have also figured out a better system of when and how often we do talk but even now, we don’t really have a set schedule and sometimes just have to wing it (this is something we are still working on). It’s so important to make each other a priority and to be intentional with the time that we do have because communication is literally all you have when you’re living in different cities.
- Trust. Everyone has insecurities and fears even if it doesn’t look like it through all of the happy pictures on social media. Being apart from one another has brought up a lot of fears, worries, and insecurities to the surface for me. I’m a very “what if” thinker so I oftentimes would imagine the worst case scenarios in my head. Anyone else guilty of this? Andrew is the total opposite, so chill and easy going–he’s good for me because we balance each other out ;). I think that this is where I’ve grown the most doing LD. I used to always jump to conclusions but through time, I’ve gotten a lot better at pausing before reacting (but not gonna lie, still struggle with this at times). I never realized how many trust issues I had from my ex-relationship until LD, but through this experience, I’ve been able to begin working through them.
- Independence. When Andrew first moved, I had some really lonely and sad days (and still do). I honestly sometimes get jealous when I hear of him doing fun things with his new friends because I wish I could be a part of these new experiences he’s having. I learned that it’s so important to have family and friends to turn to during these harder days. I’ve also really grown to love my alone time and am trying to use this time apart to accomplish some of my own goals (Masters degree, blogging, etc). Every night I try and set aside time to read a short devotional (The Power of Being Thankful) and spend some time praying, which has honestly helped a lot in redirecting my focus. I think no matter what relationship you’re in, LD or not, finding time to be by yourself and have your own hobbies (cooking, working out, journaling, etc.) is a great habit to get into. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself and your own dreams when in a serious relationship so I want to continue this mindset even when Andrew and I are living in the same city!
- Laughter. This sounds cheesy but I think that laughter and just being silly together are so important in any relationship. I found that a lot of the times Andrew and I did find time to talk, I would try to take full advantage of that time and have serious conversations rather than just try and enjoy the moment. I now try to have a better balance of both. Also, planning time to see each other and having that to look forward to is crucial! Andrew and I try to see each other every 4-6 weeks. Having the next trip planned every time we say goodbye has been the best advice anyone gave us because I know I can then start counting down the days until I see him again!
Long distance… What can I say?… It’s been great. It’s kept me sane being away from Natalie for such a good period of time. Would I recommend it to other guys? Yes, definitely, it’s a must!!
Okay, all jokes aside, long distance has been an obstacle to say the least. Not only has it proven difficult to maintain at times, but it also has taught me a lot about myself. Here are 3 things I wish I’d have known going into a long distance relationship:
- Be ready to communicate, A LOT. I will be the first to say that I am the WORST communicator in the history of communication. I have always been that way, and I’ve just come to accept it. This long distance stuff has been extremely difficult for me because I’m the type of person where I have that “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Combine that with the busy schedule I maintain and you have a great combination to hurt your girl’s feelings. I’ve learned over time that I have to be more mindful with the time I do have to reach out to Nat, and to take those opportunities to check in and talk. It’s still pretty unnatural to me, but I’m working on it.
- Be able to share how you feel in serious conversations. You have less time together, so that means you will be having difficult conversations when you’re face to face more often than not. Conversations about the realities of life, your future as a couple, and deeper thoughts. In those situations, you need to understand the seriousness of the conversations and give your honest opinion. Say how you really feel, no matter how much that might hurt the other person. Time is precious, and so are your thoughts, so share them both.
- Be meaningful with the time you do have together. When I do have time with Nat, I try to be as present as I can. I defer to neglect my phone and social media so that I can just enjoy her company when possible. The time you get to spend together is short in a long distance relationship, so it’s important that you take advantage. Your Facebook feed can wait… (mine is usually pretty dry, anyways).
Xoxo, Nat (& Andrew)