It had arrived, the day I had been counting down to and dreading at the same time. I was moving from New Zealand to Ireland, alone. I had gotten a job that I needed to start in September, and my boyfriend needed to stay at his work until January. After a tearful goodbye and 40 hours of travelling, I made it to Dublin safe and sound. We are now three months into our four-month stint apart, and it still feels like we only said goodbye yesterday. Neither of us knew what an LDR (long-distance relationship) would be like; especially considering we had spent almost every day of the last two years together. But, I am here to tell you that although it’s not easy, it’s not impossible.
Here are five tips for surviving an LDR:
1. Prepare for being apart
For me the best way to do this was to talk about it. It sounds easy, but sometimes talking about your feelings — and more specifically your doubts — can be really challenging. My boyfriend and I tried to be open and honest about how we were feeling, and we always reassured each other that it was going to be okay. I also read a lot of articles about LDRs (just like you are right now), and I talked to people who had experienced them firsthand. It was comforting to read and hear other people’s positive stories and experiences.
2. Find time for each other
Scheduling time to talk is a real life saver for us. My boyfriend and I have different hemispheres and time zones to deal with — 13 hours different to be exact — which can make finding time to talk difficult. At the moment, due to our work schedules during the week, we only have a 30-minute window in the mornings to talk. With this in mind, we set aside a decent amount of time on the weekend to connect. We also have come to realize that despite our best intentions it’s not always possible to talk, so we make an extra effort to be flexible and understanding of each other’s schedules.
3. Embrace the challenges that come with being apart
Did I mention LDRs are tough? Missing your other half is almost a given, but feeling lonely is a very real side effect of an LDR too. The only person that can cure how you are feeling is the one person that can’t be there. Feeling lonely is totally normal, I have found that when I am really lonely I Skype my boyfriend. There is something about seeing his face rather than just hearing his voice that seems to ease the pangs of loneliness. Also, keeping busy is a great help. I took a photography course and started volunteering at a dog shelter. There is nothing like puppy cuddles to improve your mood.
4. Have something to look forward to
It could be a halfway point, a holiday together, or even the final reunion. It’s important to have something you can discuss, share, and be excited about together. For us, it’s when my boyfriend finally comes over to join me, which is only five weeks away!
5. Use the distance to strengthen your relationship
This may not be the easiest time for you both, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow from the experience. My boyfriend and I play games against each other use Snapchat to communicate and, most importantly, make each other laugh. You can watch movies together via Skype or read the same book and discuss it. Relationship-building journals like this one can be a great way to start meaningful conversations when you are apart. It is important to find enjoyment and fulfilment in your relationship despite being apart.
A successful LDR is a testament to the strength of your relationship and your love for one another. You will find that as time goes by you will settle into a new rhythm of your relationship. If you are like us, your communication will improve and you will learn to talk about everything and anything with one another. Any doubts I had before starting our LDR have gone. We are still a strong and happy couple. With intention and commitment, your long distance-relationship will thrive.
Originally published on January 25, 2017.