For those of you who don’t know, I am currently living in Canada for my exchange year at university and my boyfriend is back in Scotland completing his degree. Since moving out here, I am constantly being posed with the question: “Is it hard?”.
For context – this isn’t the first time that we’ve had to do long distance. Max went to Hong Kong for a semester last year and we didn’t see each other for around 5 months. However this time is a little different as I will be away for 2 4-month periods as I am coming home for Christmas and then coming back to Canada in January. To answer the question that everyone has been asking me – yes, it is hard. But it gets better.
Long distance relationships are complicated and not everyone feels the same way about them. I only have experience of being apart for a specified amount of time – as in, there is a start and end date to when we won’t see each other. I understand that it is different for those who are in relationships and live permanently far apart but this post is going to be about my experience and advice.
The truth is, the worst part about an LDR is the build up and that initial goodbye. I’ve had to do it twice now and it does not get any better the second time. When the date for departure is set, it feels like a ticking time-bomb and the countdown is excruciating. I felt like I needed to cram in as many activities, as many memories as possible before I left.
Then there is the actual goodbye itself. Crying in airports is never fun, I can tell you that. It is very distressing having to leave the person you love at the gate and keep going. At the time, every part of me just did not want to get on the plane but I knew that I had to, so that was that. Leaving the person that makes you feel secure is scary – like removing a comfort blanket from a child – but once you have gone through that first goodbye it does start to get easier from there.
You’d think with a long distance relationship that the more time you are apart, the harder it will get. But I don’t think that is entirely the case. The first week or so apart is the worst – it takes time to adjust to the fact that you won’t be around the person that you spend most of your time with at home. Then as time goes on, it just becomes normal. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t easy and it’s not as if I’d ever chose to be in an LDR, but your routine will change and you will get used to life without that person being physically there.
This brings me onto my first pieces of advice: social media is your best friend. Video calls like FaceTime and Skype are brilliant for staying in touch with each other as it is a visual thing and you almost feel like they are there because you are seeing them. I think this is so, so important. If you want this to work, you have to maintain communication. Normally, myself and Max will FaceTime maybe twice a week and sometimes more just depending on what is going on with us. Then everyday we talk on WhatsApp or other messaging apps. It’s also important not to go overboard on the calls because you won’t get to experience the new place that you’re in or just life in general if you are always on the phone to your other half. Balance is key.
Let go of the silly arguments. This is something I have to work on too but it is really important. If you bicker over small things, in person it is easy to reconcile with a hug or a kiss but when there is physical distance between you it is a lot harder. When you don’t get to spend time with the person or talk to them as often as you normally would it’s important to make the most of the time that you do have.
It’s the small things. Recently, Max and I sent each other our anniversary cards through the mail and it was honestly really exciting to wait on the envelope and wonder what was inside. I think it’s the little things that you can do for each other that keep the intimacy in the relationship – even if there are thousands of miles between you. Tagging them in funny videos/posts on Facebook, sending snapchats – all of these small things tell the person that you are thinking about them and it always feels nice to receive them.
And finally: Make plans. I think it is far more difficult to get through a period of distance when you don’t have anything planned for when you are going to see each other again. It’s good to have things to look forward to and think about when you are missing the person. Whether that be a holiday or even simple things like what food you’re going to eat with Netflix and chill (we’ve discussed that one in detail..) it all helps.
I could go on about this subject forever, but hopefully this helps some people. At the end of the day, in the world we live in it’s going to be near impossible to have a relationship without long distance at least part of the time. If any of you have experiences with LDR then please let me know in the comments!