So you’re in a long distance relationship and you miss each other. It’s confusing, hard, takes a lot of time and maybe sometimes you look yourself in the mirror and say is this really worth it?
The truth is, only you can make that decision, but a lot of people are in long distance relationships meaning there are millions of people trying to navigate the same experience you are. So, with a deep dive into looking at some of the do’s and don’ts, here’s what I found.
According to our trusty psychologytoday.com–which I read frequently–they listed what seemed common in relationships in general. But then again, maybe not. We all could use a refresh.
Make sure you have the same long-term goals:
If you’re in a long distance relationship, you have to know your partner's endgame. Not everything needs to be decided upon but if you want to go to graduate school in Missouri and your partner wants to spend the next year traveling, chances are there could be some issues. So, have those realistic conversations and decide if your relationship can stand the tests that lay in front of you before being reunited.
Focus on the small things:
When you’re physically around someone a lot, you both naturally share menial anecdotes of your day. A funny comment a coworker made, a new coffee shop that has great bagels, a funny hat you saw on the bus. Being away from your significant other can make it harder to keep up on the small things–but those are the ones that keep you close. When you have those anticipated phone calls, don’t just focus on the big picture. Make sure those details remain part of your daily conversation. You don’t want to look back in six months and realize you’ve lost touch with who your partner has become after all the time apart.
Your time spent face-to-face shouldn’t be an itinerary:
Maybe your SO is coming to visit you in the new city you’ve been living in for a few months. It may initially seem like you have to plan jam-packed days of sightseeing, visiting all your new favorite restaurants, meeting all your new friends, but take a step back. You might wake up together and want to have a lazy morning, drink coffee and watch a movie. Maybe you just want to enjoy each other's company and order a pizza rather than go out. Leave your time together up in the air and decide in the moment what feels right for the both of you.
I then turned my attention to lifehacks.org which seemed promising to help guide me through this little research experiment. Turns out they also had some good advice–so here goes.
Set some ground rules:
This one may not be as fun as fantasizing about your trip to Mexico together in July, but news flash, it’s February and you’ve got four months left. Take a moment to ask yourself what you need out of your partner to make it work. What do they need? In what areas do both of you need your own space, or more support? Clearing these big questions out of the way can make the coming months much easier having already limited the chances of surprises. Not to say surprises won’t still arise–because they will. But then again, doesn’t everyone like a good surprise every now and again?
Avoid situations that make your partner uncomfortable:
This is a tricky one because there is a fine line between respecting your partner and letting your partner control you. If you know your partner doesn’t like it when you go out clubbing with your friends until 3:00am, but you love going out, find a compromise. Relationships should never feel suffocating but they also only work if both parties feel respected and valued. Regularly check in with each other’s comfort zones so you can plan accordingly.
Enjoy time alone:
As much as couples in long distance relationships fixate on their next visit, it’s just as important to cherish time by yourself as well. Not even just by yourself, go out with your best friends and be present with them and not on your phone. Call your parents. Enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself outside of that person you’re always longing for. We come into this world alone and we die alone, but the connections and love we share along the way make it worth it. Be comfortable with yourself through all of it and don’t forget that you’re an individual before you’re somebody's other half.
So there you go. Six little tid-bits of advice for those of you who are without your loved ones. It can be assumed that COVID-19 has kept even more couples apart so we truly all are in this together. Next time you pick up the phone or give a hug, remember to enjoy it for the privilege that it is.