Three Types of Long Distance (And How To Cope With Each)
I spent my senior year of high school dating a senior in college and I fell hard – and fast. We often got to see each other two or three times a week, and it was pure bliss. We knew I would be going away to college eventually, but the challenges of long distance never crossed our minds. After graduation, I started gearing up to move 300 miles away, but what I hadn't anticipated was my boyfriend accepting an internship upon his graduation – 3,000 miles away. Any notions I had had of long, uninterrupted lazy weekends for us quickly dissipated. While it would have been worth the drive for those two or three days of cuddling in my extra long twin, it was certainly no longer worth the flight.
We were committed to each other though, and decided we were up for the challenge. One sticky day in June, I helped him pack all his worldly possession into his car, and then he followed me until we reached the highway. I headed south; he headed west.
There are three types of long distance relationships. One is no easier than the others, especially to those involved, and each comes with its own challenges and rewards.
The first type may seem the most daunting; this is the kind that has no end in sight. Of course, this type of relationship may eventually morph into one of the other two, but it counts as its own type, because many long distance relationships start in this fashion.
The second type has a vague end in sight, whether it’s a few months - or few years - down the road. And the third type has a definite end in sight.
When we first started doing the whole long-distance thing, we were faced with an LDR that had no end in sight. We didn't know if his internship would lead to a permanent job in Los Angeles, nor did we know if I would get a job out there upon graduating from college. What we did know was we’d be doing long distance for at least four years. And probably then some.
On top of that, we had been used to seeing each other on a weekly basis. The transition from a short distance relationship to a long one can be harder than the relationship itself, until both parties adjust.
So what can you do in this situation? Talk, talk, talk. Facetime, ichat, e-mail, text, talk on the phone. It may take a few weeks, or even a few months, to really get into a groove (time differences don’t help), but eventually you’ll find what works for you. Care packages are another fabulous way of bridging the distance. If you can’t afford to send packages on a regular basis, send some handwritten letters or goofy greeting cards. And give yourselves visits to look forward to, even if they’re few and far between. If there’s one thing I've learned about life thus far, it’s that it goes on. The fact that you can’t freeze time might suck during the precious visits you have together, but it works to your advantage during the time in between. Even if you’re not seeing him until Christmas and it’s only March – those months will pass. Time doesn't stop. Ever.
Keep busy, work hard, and play hard (but don’t get into trouble!). Focus on yourself and do what makes you happy, but keep an eye on your mutual future – it will give you something to look forward to. Talk about the future. Talk about buying a house together. Heck, look up real estate online and pick out your dream house together. Because your relationship is lacking the physical element, it’s important to give yourselves tangible things to hold on to, and genuine experiences to look forward to. Care packages and dream houses are just two examples.
A lot of the above can be said for the other two types of relationships as well, which some might argue are slightly easier. If you have a vague ending in sight, coming up with mutual goals is a great way to ensure peace of mind until you’re able to reach those goals together. And if you do have a definite end in sight, start a countdown and do one thing a month for each other that relates to being closer. It doesn't have to cost money, and could be as simple as picking out an awesome restaurant you’ll go to once the distance closes, or finding a dog park for your pup to run around in. But if you've got the means, feel free to splurge. You can buy a new bookshelf for you two to share, or get some really cool artwork for your new place together. Again, it’s those tangible elements that really solidify your commitment to each other, and make the distance that much easier. I'm not going to say it flies by, because it often doesn't, but it is manageable.
When you do find yourself overwhelmed at times, consult this handy list and you’ll be reminded that being in a long distance relationship really isn’t all that bad. You can get through this. How do I know? Because you’re fierce, and you’re strong. Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. And that’s a fact.