It’s 6pm and you’ve come just home from a long day of work. All you want to do is put your feet up and hang with your other half. But, the only problem is that they’re on the other side of the world and you’re stuck with a tub of ice cream and a marathon of The Family Guy on TV – which can only tide you over for so long.
Long distance love can be frustrating and emotionally draining, but it’s the best way to discover whether you’re meant to be with your partner for the long-term and it teaches you the art of patience.
No one ever knows for sure whether their relationship will survive the test of time – especially when part of the test is being thousands of miles apart. But you never know unless you try, right? Here are a few tips you might find helpful:
Talk About It
If life throws a curve ball and one of you has to go away for school, family, work or immigration reasons, you will need to talk about it. Lay out your expectations in advance: How long will it be? How often can you visit one another? Will you be monogamous? What happens if it’s not working?
You both need to be aware of one another’s needs before the long distance begins.
Frequent communication is one of the keys to a healthy trans-global relationship. Whether it’s an “I Love You” text when you wake up; a “hello” message on Facebook; a quick phone call on your lunch break; or a lengthy weekend Skype session, it’s crucial to have that regular contact.
Share life’s events, great and small: the jerk who cut you off in traffic yesterday or the embarrassing klutz moment in the office. It helps you feel like you’re still part of one another’s everyday lives.
“Telephone conversations were good, but the thing I liked the most was getting emails – regardless of how long or short they were,” says Neil, a British expat who successfully survived nine months of long distance with his Canadian girlfriend of two years. “I also liked getting photos from my girlfriend because they kept me up to date on what she looked like and what she was up to. Meaningful photos document ‘this is me today.’”
Interactive marketing maven, Elizabeth, and her British boyfriend, Jensen, spent a similar stint apart: “We were in contact often via phone, email or Skype. I highly recommend signing up for a Skype account as free long distance makes it easy to stay in touch. Even if it was a quick text message it made me feel that LA and London weren’t that far away.”
It’s hard to avoid time zone blues, especially when he’s sleeping and she’s just waking up on the other side of the world. It might mean a few late nights, early mornings and a little bit of planning – a small sacrifice for the livelihood of your relationship.
Don’t be discouraged if you have a few frustrating conversations. It’s not easy to be on your game when you’ve just woken up to call your partner.
If at all possible, take the time off work or school and save up your money to visit your partner. Seeing one another will help re-enforce why you’re in the relationship in the first place. It also helps break up the time into manageable lengths and gives you something to look forward to during the tough times.
“We enjoyed getting to know each other better and took advantage of visiting each other often, getting to know each other’s family and friends,” explains Elizabeth.
You may need to sacrifice a truly relaxing vacation in order to visit your lover, but it must be done. Still, there are some happy mediums:
Make Plans together
“A great piece of advice that was given to me was when you’re leaving each other, always know when you’ll see each other next,” says Elizabeth. “It definitely made a difference for us to have something planned, even if it was a couple months down the road. It gives you something to look forward to and get excited about and make the distance easier to deal with.”
One of the most important things is to have a common goal. Eventually, you will need to live in the same place. Having a date to look forward to and making plans about what you will do together once that date comes ensures that you’re still on the same page.
If you’re coming to the end of your long distance relationship, it’s common to feel anxiety. It might have been a long time since you’ve seen each other and you may be worried about how it will be. Chances are, if you’ve survived being apart for a good length of time and are still happily in love, all of the stresses of your time apart will melt away once you see one another again.
Keep the Spark Alive
Long distance means no sex, which is one of the most challenging aspects of having a beau abroad. But, with a little creativity, you can always keep the spark alive.
Try “sexting”. It wouldn’t hurt to send a sexy message to your partner. Just make sure you don’t accidentally send it to someone else – it happens.
Ladies, try emailing your partner a sexy photo – it doesn’t have to be pornographic. Not only is it liberating to take a hot photo of yourself, but it will make his heart race and give him a little something for the “wank bank”.
Guys, you don’t have to be on the same continent to buy her flowers “just because”. Order them online and have them delivered – she will be yours forever. It worked for me!
Try to think positively, even during the discouraging times. It will keep you both motivated to hang in there.
“We’re both pretty independent people who really love our friends so we carried on life as usual and didn’t dwell on the fact that we were apart most of the time,” says Elizabeth. “We both really committed to giving a long distance relationship a proper go and it’s been well worth the effort. After all, it’s just geography. Someone can always move – and we did.”