Last month I announced I wanted to be a little more personal with all you guys, and let you know who I am (while learning about you too). I’ve been so touched by all the messages and emails sent to me after sharing my experience with moving across the world on my own at a young age, so I wanted this one to be about something just as close to my heart but more recent – and actually something I am still in the middle of as I type this.
A little back story:
• My boyfriend and I have been dating since we were 18 years old, so a little over 8 years ago.
• He is very calm and smart, and I am more dramatic and impatient. Opposites do attract!
Many people who meet and fall in love as young as we did tend to grow in different directions, but in our case we grew up together as one. We have always been each other’s biggest cheerleaders (he is the one who pushed me to start a blog and who is still behind every technical aspect of it, and I supported him through his undergrads and masters).
But I am not writing this post to talk to you about us this way.
I am writing it because I want to share with you how we have been getting through finding ourselves in different countries for months.
A little over a year ago, we had to embark on our biggest challenge yet: long distance relationship, aka LDR. I will spare you the details and all the WHYs you might be wondering, and say that it was very personal and we didn’t have a choice. I think that might have been the toughest blow ever, and cannot even begin to tell you how to start wrapping your mind around it when it happens so quickly. A lot of things happen in life that are out of our control, and even though you might try and find every possible way around it, sometimes you just have to accept and have faith that things will fall into place. What we could control was how we were going to deal with it (and I know it sounds incredibly cheesy). It was never an option for us to break up to make it “easier” on us. You know the sentence “I would rather do complicated with you, than easy with someone else”? Yeah that is my motto, every day. 🙂
To get you up to speed to today: the days preceding, I was terrified. I remember D-Day as if it was yesterday. Pretty sure something like that stays a scar in your mind forever. The week after, I honestly don’t know what happened. It seems like fog in my brain. But – just like I said in my previous post – you get tougher and tougher every day, and you adapt. Survival kicks in! We are now several long long looong months into our LDR, and could be considered “pros” at it. But I’d be lying if I said it is easy, although it is easier. We see each other when we are able to, and a lot of little things help our every day life and keep us close. I wanted to share those with you, if you are in a similar situation or know someone who might need some reassurance and comfort.
1. Choose your battles
This is HUGE. I never really understood this before, but now with the situation I am in, it couldn’t make any more sense than it does. Think about it: choose what you fight about. Being so intensely close to someone but so far apart in distance makes you notice all the little things, which makes it super easy to snap at each other. The little things become the big things, and trust me when I say it is NOT fun to fight on the phone or by text! Everything is amplified and everything is harder because you don’t have that connection with the other, you can’t reach out and touch them. You need to remember that the little things are just that: little things. Let them go. It isn’t worth the tears and stress.
2. Stop with the expectations
You know how William Shakespeare said “Expectation is the root of all heartache”? Turns out, he was totally right! When being in a long distance, you CANNOT expect things from the other person. Don’t expect them to have all the time in the world for you, because chances are they get busy! And vice-versa, they might have more time when you are the one busy and unreachable. Don’t expect it to be easy, to be happy every day, that things will always be the same. I can’t tell you the number of times we try to call or reach each other and the other one isn’t available when they said they would. It is frustrating, and more often then not it hurts. But you can’t expect being miles apart (think of the jet lag!) and be available 24/7. That’s just not possible. And trust me, the sooner you can accept that, the better you will be. I know it isn’t easy, but try your best 🙂
3. Reassure each other
This might be my most important one. I get insecure when it comes to matters of the heart, so this is something I personally need. The feeling of abandonment – even though not realistic – is such a tough one to kick! I remember telling him before the start of our LDR that I would need to be constantly reassured about us and our relationship. I get lost in my head a lot, and overthink too much, so I knew this one was going to be my weakness. Anxiety has been a part of my life for a few months now, and he can sense when I am overly stressed and help me through it. It doesn’t take much: a random text saying I love you, a phone call between 2 meetings saying I’m thinking about you, a goodnight phone call to talk about the day,… Obviously it goes both ways, don’t expect your partner to be cold stoned and think about what would make them smile – and just do it! Long distance is hard, and you need to put more efforts into it than probably almost everything else in your life. But it is not the end of the world if you decide it can’t be!
4. Prioritise each other when you are together
When you do get to see each other and spend an hour/day/week or more together, make it count! Forget your phone, forget your job, forget your troubles and just be present. Don’t pick a fight, don’t allow negativity to come into your limited time with each other. Same thing when you are on the phone, on Skype, Facetiming or any other digital ways to “be together”. Cut out the rest of the world. Don’t get interrupted by phone calls, tv shows, friends or anything else that might come in your way. The rest of your life can wait for a little while, because this is important (and comes a long way in reassuring your partner about the state of your relationship)!
5. Set a date
There is nothing worst than feeling like you are “drowning” in this LDR and cannot see the surface. Like you are in the middle of the tunnel and cannot see the light at the end. Having a plan, knowing when you will see each other, be together, or finally be reunited once and for all is MANDATORY. Don’t let “temporary” become “indefinitely” because it will become “permanently”. And it is much easier to move towards a goal when you have one, whether it being a video phone call, a vacation, or a life together. Spending time with each other is the most wonderful feeling, and makes you remember exactly what you are fighting for.
6. Surround yourself with love
There are moments when you will get lonely, and feel like no one understands (and that doesn’t only apply to long distance relationships, so we have all been there). My advice to you is GET OUT. Go do something you love, go shopping, go to the movies or go buy a cake and eat the entire thing, and do it with someone you love. A girl friend, a family member, your furry baby, who ever that may be… Let people help you even if they don’t know what you are going through. Let them carry you for a little bit, when you are low. I love to be home and by myself, and that is totally fine, but it feels SO good when you can take a breath and let someone else be there for you.
I really hope this can help you, or someone you know, to realize that it’s not because the odds are against you that you cannot defeat them! You know your relationship, you know in your heart if you can make it work. Don’t think long distance relationships can only work when you have a perfect relationship. Our relationship hasn’t always been easy, we have had our rocky moments, but that might be one of the reasons we are still going strong even through this part of our life: because we know we have gotten through other difficult situations. And see the positive: when your long distance ends (and it will end), there will be nothing you both cannot accomplish together.
“Missing someone gets easier everyday because even though you are one day further from the last time you saw them, you are one day closer to the next time you will.” – unknown