There is no perfect long-distance relationship — and quite frankly, long distance sucks.
Before giving you all of my wisdom on long-distance dating, I thought you should know how much I hate it. Just the other day, I locked myself in my room with a box of tissues and a bowl of dark chocolate, crying rather hysterically over how much the distance between my boyfriend, Connor, and I sucks. Connor had just left after visiting for one night and one day, and we had just given what had to have been our five millionth goodbye.
We’ve been doing love like this for about two years now — well, technically that isn’t accurate. Let me start at the beginning. I met Connor the summer before I started college on the boat we were both working on in Cleveland.
He walked with me to the lot all the crew members parked in every day. Over time, we got to know each other and started hanging out in the parking lot after long days at work.
Eventually, I asked if I could kiss him, and he asked me out.
That was the best summer of my life. And then it ended. It was time for both of us to head off to college, which left us at a crossroads. He was a rising junior at the University of Maryland at the time — that’s a seven-hour drive from BGSU.
With probably not as much thought as we should’ve given the issue, we decided to drag our relationship through that distance. Four months later, Connor broke up with me.
At this point, you might be wondering what advice I could give from a failed long-distance relationship.
But after six months of not talking to each other, Connor and I were back on the boat for the summer. It was awkward and uncomfortable. I was angry and sad; he was quiet and hard to read. We reconnected and hashed out everything that went wrong during those four months of distance. We healed and forgave, and soon, we started dating again.
When the end of summer rolled around, we had a long conversation about if we wanted to try the distance again and how we were going to do things differently this time if we did.
Over a year later, long distance still sucks, but the relationship is rock solid.
Connor graduated and moved from Maryland to Cleveland, a mere two hours from Bowling Green. I have a car on campus for the first time and can visit him whenever I need to. His work schedule and my school schedule line up well enough that we can chat during his lunch break and when he gets home most days.
We have a new hope for our relationship, and with a shorter distance between us and some consideration for the lessons we learned the hard way, it’s going much more smoothly. It’s with this new perspective on long-distance that I present to you my advice for surviving a long-distance relationship.
1. Communicate about everything.
Don’t stop talking to each other. I’m a very independent person, so part of me likes the freedom long distance affords me. But don’t get me wrong, I talk to Connor at least a little bit every day. Good morning and goodnight texts or Snapchats are the minimum; it’s been helpful to genuinely ask how his day went to feel like I’m more connected with him. If your partner isn’t the most generous person when it comes to sharing their feelings, ask them out right how they are doing. Give them the space to tell you they’re feeling lonely or miss you or really need to have a date night soon.
And when I say everything, I mean everything. Don’t think that just because you only get so much time in person with your partner that you should only talk about happy things. Sometimes there are hard parts of your relationship you need to address. Sometimes you both need to just cry about how much long distance sucks. Don’t bottle in problems until they burst because that will be way worse than just talking it out. Believe it or not, your partner can’t read your mind, so you have to let them know when something is bothering you.
2. Use the resources you have to stay connected.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, phone calls, texts, letters. Realize that surviving the distance today is much easier than it once was, and use that knowledge to communicate even better with your significant other.
Connor and I switched from texting to almost solely Snapchatting since we got back together because there was something about being able to see each other’s smile or facial expression with each message that made it easier for us to communicate. We typically video chat once a week when I know I can’t make the drive to him or him to me. However, we recently decided to try video chatting twice a week since the distance has been extra tough lately. I put these little “dates” with him in my calendar and plan things around those times like I would if we had a date planned in person.
3. Netflix and chill — but like 500 miles away.
This one might seem a little trivial, but on the days you might not have anything to talk about during your video chat dates, having a TV show in common could make a difference. Connor recommended a couple TV shows to me, and even though we couldn’t binge them together, we could each watch a few episodes and react to them together after the fact.
Pace out your binging, so it’s almost like the two of you are watching the same thing at the same time. The same idea can be applied to movies or books, too.
4. Little gifts here and there go a long way.
Having something to remind me of Connor — a T-shirt with the Cleveland skyline on it he gave me as a going-away gift, a tiny stuffed moose from a vacation he took to Minnesota, a necklace from our anniversary that I never take off — has helped me feel close to him when he’s far away. Even something as easy as a surprise bag of peanut butter M&Ms waiting for him when he came to visit me was meaningful.
5. If possible, plan visits. If not, plan ahead.
I had the money and the time to visit Connor in Maryland before he graduated. This trip was a way for me to show how committed I was to making the distance work — and it was a ton of fun to be a tourist in his college town. He made the drive to BG from Maryland once and then a handful of times from Cleveland. The chance to see each other and show the other around our own spaces has brought us even closer.
Not every couple has the ability to close that gap with visits, but something that shows commitment the way a visit does is talking about the future. Planning a date for a time when the distance will no longer be an obstacle for your relationship not only gives you something to look forward to but also indicates that you’re in it for the long run. Daydream with your partner about what you’ll do when you both can be in the same city again; it keeps things romantic and hopeful.