For those of you who don’t know or haven’t figured it out, I’m in a long-distance relationship. I didn’t start out as such, but you roll with the punches! We started off in Atlanta, and even for a short time, lived together due to the pandemic in order to keep my immunocompromised mother safe. After June, we became long-distance as he had to go back. At the time, I was supposed to move to London in November for grad school, but after my mom passed, I decided to push grad school for another year. Despite that, we’re still long-distance once I move as I’m based in London and he’s based in Italy. So today, I’m sharing some things that help me stay sane with the distance because despite what people say, it’s not easy at all.
1. Taking a Deep Breath
Take a deep breath is so important because sometimes you just gotta take a beat. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I put my foot in my mouth and I’ve had to deal with that. Other times, I do take a beat and take a deep breath. When our schedules don’t line up for a few days and we go without really talking. When I get nervous about how the distance helps or hurts us. Anxiety about how on Earth I will get his gift for his birthday or our anniversary to him on time. So many things. Taking a deep breath keeps me grounded and it’s super important for me.
2. Making Concrete Plans (When Possible)
This one is hard especially when you layer in time change, but make concrete plans!!! When I came to see him last, we made concrete plans of the next time we’d see each other. Like “I’m going to see you April 28th, when you come visit” or something similar. Even something like “we’re going to FaceTime on Tuesday after you finish class”. Make concrete plans so the distance and the time between when you see each other doesn’t seem as daunting. While these plans are bound to change sometimes, it will help the time go a bit quicker and give you something to look forward to.
3. Be Present Even When You’re Over the Phone
Being present is never easy, and with a million phone notifications or Netflix available, it’s easy to get distracted. Try and put the phone down (unless you’re talking on it) and be present in your conversations or when you’re in person. It might be days months or years between when you see each other or talk, so take the most of it when you have those moments. I like to turn off my notifications so I can just focus, but I do know that even I get distracted. It happens, don’t dwell on it, and just keep trying at it til you succeed.
4. Try and Reign in the Codependency When You’re Together
Okay, I’m preaching to myself at this point. This isn’t easy. ESPECIALLY when it comes to being stuck in lockdown together, I have to reign it in and remind myself that it’s okay to be my own person. It’s okay to go to the store by myself. I am fine to go out for a walk solo. After months or weeks of being apart, I do just want to cuddle all day and maximize all of the time I have before I have to leave again. Reigning in the codependency helps me maintain my personhood, but also keeps me on a schedule, which is good for when I leave and have to figure out how to be myself on my own again and we’re back to long-distance.
5. Getting Comfortable with Being Tired, but It’s for Love
Being tired is part of the game. Getting up super early to chat before one goes to bed, or staying up super late to catch the other in the morning there. Get comfy with the bags under your eyes because they’ll be there for a while. While you don’t always have to schedule meet-ups at the beginning or end of your day, sometimes it is just what works best. When you want to talk to your partner, you want to make it work any way possible, so you just gotta do what you gotta do in those instances.
6. Shared Calendars are Life
Two grad students who live 6 hours apart, what could go wrong? Shared calendars are life. I know when he has class so I don’t bug him, but also so when we know when each other’s major deadlines are. Sharing a calendar doesn’t mean putting your entire life at the mercy of your partner, but it does mean you can be conscious of their time and maximize free time, rather than finding tiny moments here or there.
7. Find Things To Do Together or Rather On the Other Side of the Globe
Finding those little things isn’t easy, but it’s totally worth it. I remember one time when we did an Apple Fitness challenge, competing with each other to see who could win. We also try Chloe Ting, where we can follow the videos on a program and do them together on Zoom or at our own pace. Finding those little things to do with each other is essential because it makes it a little more normal, despite the distance. Try planning a monthly movie date night/afternoon in order to see each other, or try grabbing a Nintendo Switch and play together!
I’m not an expert. Not in relationships, not in long-distance. So all of what I’ve just said should be taken with a grain of salt as it’s just what’s worked for me! Long-distance is hard, and that’s okay. It’s all about working at it, just like working at any other relationship. So keep working at it and find what works for you. If you have any additional tips, drop them in the comments, I’d love to find out new things to try. If you want some additional tips, or to just stay in the loop, sign up for my newsletter! There you’ll be the first to know all new information!