Brian and I have been together about 9 years ( I know crazy!!) and we have been long distance for probably over 50% of that time. Whether it’s one week apart, one month, many months or being on the opposite side of the world, we have done it. Each time we are together, we try to make that time count. Brian’s job means he is away a lot but we have also had our separate travels and living situations to navigate and plan out the next time we would see each other.
While I believe it’s very important for couples to find things they enjoy doing together, I think it is equally important for each one of you to be independent as well. Time away makes the heart grow fonder after all.
Also I want to add, it doesn’t matter if you are dating, engaged or married. Time apart can be difficult to manage for any couple, at least in my opinion.
Here are some of my tips:
When long distance in separate countries:
This has happened a few times in our relationship. First was Costa Rica (2010) when I went for a 5 week program. Then my study abroad to Australia for 5 months (2011). Then again last year when I decided to go to Europe for 3 weeks on my own.
- Keeping busy – I’m sure if you are staying in another country it’s for vacation or work, something where you have some sort of list of things to do. You don’t have to have a strict itinerary, but just finding activities to do in the area can help take your mind off missing someone.
- Journal. Pen and Paper seems so old fashioned these days, but there is still something I love about it. For one, keeping up my practice with handwriting and also just having the memories to read through a few years down the road of what I did on my travels. Internet may also be limited where you travel or be slow, so sometimes I will take a separate page of my journal and pre write out letters that I will send as emails later or write on a postcard. I still love snail mail.
- Email (if available) – I love to write. Brian doesn’t really but when we were in separate countries, just him writing about his day was nice to hear. The only times I get him to write more than 1 sentence back haha. Email is also nice since with different time zones you could be 12 or more hours apart and lining up a phone call can be tougher.
- Phone card/SIM card– Phone card seems old fashioned but when I was in Costa Rica in 2010 I didn’t have a cell phone to use. Even if I did, I was pretty much off the grid. I bought a phone card and would use pay phones (I hope they keep those around in remote locations) to call. I would also set my timer on my watch to time the conversation because paying for phone minutes can add up. For my recent travel around Europe, I got a SIM card for 1 month and would use it to text Brian. You do need an unlocked phone to get a SIM card though. There is also FaceTime when on WiFi. You can also buy minutes on Skype and call international numbers which Brian did when I was abroad and had an Australia cell phone number.
- Plan a date for when you will see each other again. If you know your return date try to plan when you will visit one another. Discuss ideas of where to go to celebrate being back together. I definitely had a countdown going when I was in Costa Rica and Australia. Brian even surprised me a day early at the airport when I flew back from Australia
In the same country
Brian and I met at school so during breaks, I was home in a different state from him. It was only last year I finally moved to the same state he lives in and yet I still have quite a bit of alone time, which I do love sometimes, but I also still miss him during evenings and weekends when he is gone.
- Daily texting and phone calls. Before texting we did this thing called talking on the phone. I remember when I was little and my dad traveled all the time and he would call every evening. Now we have the ability to send a text during the day which is nice when you are busy and can respond later or quickly text a message back. Brian and I usually text throughout the day and lately have added some FaceTime or a quick phone call in the evening to catch up.
- Email stories to one another. In Brian and I’s early days of dating, I would email him stories from my day or even a weird dream I remembered. Too long to text so I would have to write it all out and email to him. I also still have most of those emails that I really need to print maybe for a future book. I love having things in writing and reading them later.
- Find activities you like to do by yourself or in a group, like a fitness class or a sport. Having things to do by yourself will help take your mind off of thinking about how much you miss your partner.
- Get together with a friend for a movie or lunch or dinner every once in a while. Getting out with a friend will help you to get out of the house and laugh and have fun.
- Explore your own backyard. How often do we grow up in a place and never even check out the local museum or something. Find a new adventure for yourself and get out.
- Plan a fun date when you will be together again. While I don’t like to eat out often, whenever Brian comes home after a while traveling I find it nice to get out of the house and eat a nice meal. Maybe even just planning a day date together if you are both home.
Again I will say it’s not easy to be apart especially for a long stretch of time. Whether it is work or personal travel or something else that separates you, you do have to do the work to make the relationship last. If you notice, a common theme among my tips is communication whether by snail mail, email or phone, there are options and all of those forms of communication work two ways. You have to be willing to make the relationship work when you are not together all the time but it will also make you appreciate the time you do have together that much more.
Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out loud.
Any tips you would add?
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?