How To Survive a Long Distance Relationship
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Well, it’s not exactly that simple. Absence, in this case via distance, can make the heart grow fonder, but only when you nourish, appreciate, and fulfil the heart of your partner.
My husband and I were in a long-distance relationship from our introduction all the way until we were married and living together—which was nearly one and a half years (alhamdullilah). Being far apart is hard enough, but living on separate continents and enduring a gruesome six-hour time difference adds an extra level of difficulty. Let’s just say, neither of us slept for over a year. Although every relationship is different and comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, there were 3 things my husband and I always did to keep ours thriving.
This is the most important factor in sustaining your relationship. Because you don’t have the luxury of meeting for lunch or seeing each other in person, it is crucial that you set aside specific times to talk. We all have different schedules and needs, but if your goal is to merge 2 lives together in a healthy way, you HAVE to prioritise your relationship. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your whole day and disappear from your regular activities (even though my husband and I are notorious for our marathon FaceTime sessions). You should have a conversation about how much time you can give to each other, while still being able to fulfil your other commitments.
Remember when I said that time is the most important factor? I lied. Communication is. You better get used to expressing your thoughts and feelings, because this is your lifeline in a long-distance relationship. When you’re mad at your (future) spouse, what are you going to do—leave FaceTime open while you sit in a different room and hope he/she recognises your frustration? Sadly, this doesn’t work. In all relationships, it’s easy to feel misunderstood. However, in a long-distance situation, the communication gap is much greater and can be more detrimental. You both have to learn to talk everything out. Is your partner not texting you often enough? Say so. Is it important for you to receive a “good morning” and “good night”message every day? Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. And communication is just as important when things are going well. When your partner is making you happy or doing something you love, let him/her Know. It helps to vocalize all the wonderful things about your relationship, because when you’re separated by several thousand miles, words are all you have.
You also need to communicate about things outside of the relationship. When you aren’t geographically together, it can be easy to miss out on important things going on in each other’s lives. You may not know that your partner tanked a big exam, had an argument with a close friend, or is having stress at home. It is both of your jobs to keep each other informed about your daily happenings, big and small.
Take advantage of all the amazing technology we have today. Relationships like mine, where my husband was living in Germany and I in the U.S., could not have existed just ten or fifteen years ago. FaceTime was our main method of communication. Although we talked on the phone too, it wasn’t how we spent most of our time, because it was important for us to see each other. We came up with some fun and creative ideas to make our relationship as normal as possible. We’d watch the same movie together over FaceTime (thank you, Netflix). We’d exercise together over FaceTime, cook together, eat together, even sleep together (as in at the same time while FaceTime was open). I know it sounds crazy, but all of these things made us feel like we were actually getting to know a real person, not just a voice on the other end of the line. Doing this also made it easy to move in together. We didn’t feel like we had just started a life with a total stranger because we already knew each other’s habits.
Every relationship is different and occasionally needs some fine tuning. Treat it like a plant, whose sunlight and water you adjust depending on its circumstances. It can be frustrating at times, but if you feel like this person could truly be the one for you, make sure to put in the effort and don’t give up. Once you’re finally together, it will be the most magical and satisfying thing in the world.