Whether you travel for a living like I do, you’ve met someone special that doesn’t quite live in the same city or country as you or you have jobs that send one another overseas, long distance relationships are pretty common in this day and age.
I get asked all the time, “How do you do it?” Followed by, “I couldn’t do it,” and there’s one simple answer. If you love that person enough – you make it work. There also has to be certain characteristics and values that both of you share, such as trust and understanding.
Of course, long distance relationship problems exist, but if two people are committed to making it work the outlook isn’t bleak.
The first time my partner and I experienced long distance was in 2015 when I studied in Germany and travelled around Europe for 7 months. His job allowed him to visit after one month apart, which meant we then went an entire 6 months without seeing each other.
The ultimate test for couples? In many cases, it can be but for us, it wasn’t even a test.
We just knew it would work, it was never a problem for us. With his line of work, he himself was used to doing many long periods overseas away from family and friends and so he was very understanding.
It was my first time experiencing living overseas by myself and travelling solo but we both saw it as a great experience for me and we knew it was only temporary.
We constantly messaged each other and made sure that we video called every day.
What made it easy for us was that we were both extremely busy – him with his job and me with my study and then planning exciting excursions to nearby countries.
Last year we spent four months apart when I galivanted around Southeast Asia with a short break in between, where he met up with me in Vietnam for 10 days.
Earlier this year I was away for a month travelling the States and Canada. Even one month apart is still hard, I’m not saying it gets any easier being apart. He is my other half and I feel like a piece of me is missing when he is gone. But being on your own and independent once in a while helps you to grow and ultimately makes you stronger as a couple.
My partner is away for 6 months now, and we are currently one-third of the way through it. The first two weeks were tough for me because this time I was the one sitting at home with not much to distract me. Even though I had piles of work to do, I felt unmotivated to do any of it and it felt like time was standing still.
What got me out of that funk? Doing what I love to do – travelling. I started planning small trips not too far away from home, but places that I had never been. (I couldn’t leave for too long because we have a cat that demands food and attention).
And somehow, the last several weeks have flown by and it’s already next month that I’m off again on my next big trip. I’m going to Europe for six weeks and meeting my partner for 12 of those days for his halfway break. (Cat is sadly for her, off to the cattery).
Planning my trip to Europe has also been a great distraction and meeting up in Paris is an exciting prospect we are both looking forward to.
By the time I get back from Europe, it will only be a couple more months before he will be home again, and we are going to plan another little trip at the end of it.
We are lucky to have a strong relationship where we build each other up and are supportive of each other’s careers. This is how we make our long distance stints work and you can too if you have the determination. Here are some top tips to help get you through:
Greet each other “good morning” and “good night” every day and keep each other updated on your life and its happenings, however mundane some of the things may seem. Send funny pictures and video clips. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other person feel loved and attended to.
Video Call Often
Make the time to video call whenever possible, even if you only have ten minutes to spare. Seeing the other person’s face and hearing their voice can make everything feel okay again.
To yourself when you’re first apart. It’s hard at first but it does get easier. Spend those first few days on the couch binge-watching Netflix and then pick yourself up. Treat yourself to those little things that make you happy.
Carry on as normal and keep those routines. If you’re the one sitting at home missing the other person constantly, use that spare time and turn it into something positive. Take up a new hobby or class or go on short trips. Keeping your mind occupied helps make the time go faster.
Learn to embrace the situation. Do those things you wanted to do like decorating the house all girly (sorry Gareth). You get to eat whatever you want for dinner and choose what you want to watch on TV every night. Enjoy it while it lasts.
You may be feeling incredibly lonely but don’t forget about all those friends and family you have. Make the time to plan meet-ups and go visit them. Ask your neighbour if they want to go for a walk. Haven’t called a family member lately? Start now.
Send each other care packages and old-fashioned hand-written letters. Surprising one another and being thoughtful is a lost art that holds a lot of meaning.
To help break up the time apart, plan visits or an exciting getaway for when you or your partner gets home. Even if it’s a short, relaxing few days somewhere nearby, having something to look forward to at the end of it makes the reunion even sweeter and gives you something to organise together in the meantime.
If you need to, ask for help. If you don’t want to lean on friends or feel like you don’t have anybody, seek help online. There are so many people in your situation and there are support groups with people that understand and want to help. Don’t suffer alone, there are people out there who care.
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