Long distance sucks. Period.
There’s no getting around that. Three years of long distance with my Spanish boyfriend have been some of the hardest I’ve experienced in a relationship. That being said, there are definitely some things that I’ve learned that I think help us to have a stronger and healthier relationship when we do see each other.
Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned from dating long distance:
Pause the Argument Until You See Each Other
I like to resolve issues right away. There’s nothing worse than stewing in an unfinished argument. Unfortunately, in long distance this just isn’t feasible. Arguing over the phone and trying to resolve it is a difficult feat. Without being able to see facial expressions, and nothing to go on but tone of voice (though if you argue via text, which does happen, you don’t even get that), it can sometimes make the situation seem worse, or actually make it worse. It took me a while, but I learned that sometimes you just have to let the argument sit there until you do see each other in person. It’s worth the wait in the end, because when you are physically near each other, it helps to make solving the problem a lot easier. Plus, you’ve usually cooled off by then.
Don’t Let Arguments Ruin Your Limited Time Together
So let’s say you argue during one of your rare weekends together (this is different from an argument you’ve had over the phone before seeing each other). I have learned from multiple arguments like these to not let them get in the way of our time together, even if we can’t solve the situation right away. A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I only saw each other once every couple of months. Arguing and letting it get in the way of the precious couple of days we had together ruined the entire weekend. Over time I learned to simply leave it to the side and continue enjoying our time together. If it’s a big one, it’ll still be there, so don’t worry about that. But don’t let it bleed into your precious time together.
Missing Each Other is A Good Thing
It’s so important to miss each other. Every person needs their own space and time in any relationship. It’s healthy. There were times, especially when we were on opposite sides of the peninsula, that I hated how much I missed him and that we were so far apart, but it made the time we did have together so much more special. Absence makes the heart grow fonder sometimes seems like a load of crap to me, but it is good to have your own space once in a while.
Simple Activities Become Special
How is the the time we do have together so much more special? Because even if it is something as simple as grocery shopping, just being in each other’s company is cherished, and you don’t take the time you have together for granted.
Be A Strong, Independent Person
Confession: While I don’t think of myself as a clingy person, there were definitely some relationships where I got caught up in doing as much as possible with my significant other. Even when J and I started dating, too. We were in the same town for the first part of our relationship and saw each other everyday. It’s easy to fall into that and spend the majority of your time with your partner. Just like missing each other is a good thing, so is having your own lives apart from each other. Being long distance required me to keep living my own life, hanging out with friends, battling through homesickness, dealing with stress, enjoying my life in spite of these challenges, etc. You learn how to keep living your life and be an independent person, which for me at least, I tended to lose sight of when dating someone living nearby.
So, is it worth it? The arguments, missing each other, etc.? Yes. These lessons are ones that I hope I will remember when J and I move on to the next stage of our relationship: living together. And I know that if I can remember these things, and if we’ve been able to make it through and handle three years of long distance, that when we are finally together in the same place, we can tackle anything.
Are you in a long distance relationship? What have you learned from it?