BY DEREK REIMHERR
For the longest time, I refused to do long distance relationships. I even went as far as saying, “I’ll NEVER do it." I broke up with my high school girlfriend because we went to college in different states. I ignored potential dating opportunities because the woman and I lived an hour and a half apart. I couldn’t wrap my head around being exclusively tied to someone when I wouldn’t see them but every so often.
Funny how the phrase “I will never ____” never really works out.
Maggie and I started dating about 6 months before I graduated college. A year into our relationship, and 4 whole torturous months after graduation, I accepted a job based in Los Angeles. Before I even left the final interview, Maggie was chewing her nails in anxiety knowing how I felt about our upcoming arrangement.
From July 2014 until January 2016, we didn’t live in the same city. Specifically, we lived 2,200 miles apart for 9 months and 1,000 miles apart for another 9 months. The only way to see each other was weekend trips involving time-off from work and a plane ticket.
My interactions with Delta, Southwest, and (ugh) American Airlines went something like this during this time:
Not the point of this post. I’m still bitter if you can’t tell. This is why I didn’t want to do long distance - hemorrhaging from the wallet is not my favorite activity.
Eventually, we figured out a system and learned a few thing about being long distance. These lessons have carried over into our life as a married couple *finally* living in the same place.
1. You HAVE to be committed.
Did you miss the title where I said long distance is terrible? You need to seriously consider if this person is worth it. For every long distance success story, there has to be at least 4 stories of burnout. Maggie and I each had our own rounds of questioning the relationship. It’s just a necessary step.
2. Block off time for phone calls (or Skype)
TBH, texts aren’t gonna cut it. Phone calls are the only way to download your day/week with each other to get the full picture of daily life. We always talked immediately after work. Stuff happens in the evening like hanging out with friends (or Netflix binges if you’re Maggie). Skype was not our cup of tea, though. “Hey, let’s talk for an hour while staring intently into each other’s souls.” Nah, we’re good. But more power to you if it works!
3. If you’re not good at feelings now, learn quickly.
Maggie was not good at feelings. I thought I was good at feelings (I wasn’t). The trick with normal distance relationships is that when things go wrong, you can use visual nonverbals aka body language. Over the phone? Not so much. Miscommunications can happen frequently and you have to be prepared to deal with them. Honesty and openness are key.
4. Make the weekend trips count.
In my opinion, this is not the time for lounging. Unless you have the disposable income to fly more frequently or you can make reasonably regular drives, get out there and spend your weekend visits dating each other! We were such tourists when I lived in LA and we’re not sorry about it. We could watch TV and movies together via speakerphone or a (shudder) Skype call. We couldn’t do the Hollywood sign hike anytime.
5. Keep the end in sight.
Summer-long reprieve when you’re in your hometowns? Only 2 semesters left? Hoping to relocate jobs? Moving in together? Whatever your end goal is, always keep that at the forefront of your minds. For us, it was marriage. Anytime it got really tough, we focused on how many months were left. I couldn’t image just casually dating someone for 5 years long distance. Get outta here, you crazies.
At the end of the day, a long distance relationship is tough, but you learn a ton. I have become a much more organized person with my calendar (sometimes to the chagrin of my friends). I hunt for deals on flights and activities like I wouldn't have before. I know how to keep in touch with my long distance friends.
I’m still team #NeverLongDistance. But if you do find yourself in that situation with the person you love, I promise you: it will be worth it.
Do you have any long distance advice? Share it in the comments! We love hearing from you!
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