I never pictured myself in a long-distance relationship. It was a concept I thought I'd inherently be unable to handle. LDRs just weren't worth the work, right?
Then I met Kyle.
Our relationship has rocked steadily back and forth between long- and short-distance. So, even thought it's not fun, I know a thing or two about coping with the space in our relationship.
Our meeting story is a wacky one, and one that probably deserves its own post, but the way it happened meant we were long-distance from the get-go. He lived in northern Minnesota; I was from northern Indiana. The first months of our relationship were spent 10 hours apart, and it sucked.
About five months into our dating, Kyle's work situation changed, with him becoming flexible enough to live where he chose. Even though our relationship was relatively new, he moved to Indiana to be with me. And because I was literally the only reason for him to be in Indiana, it only made sense for us to live together.
Guys, it's been great, seriously.
In October, six months after he moved here, we moved into an apartment that was a little bigger and a little nicer than the one I had moved into myself the year before. About a week later Kyle, who works on a deployment basis, was sent to Texas.
We're currently 750 miles apart, and it's been that way for the last six months. I have a very vague understanding of how these deployments work, but they can last between 30-300 days. And the way that his has worked is that I haven't had a clear answer on when he's coming home.
Yeah, it's frustrating.
So, while he is gone, it's important to find ways to deal with the distance. And our relationship hasn't really suffered. It's certainly hard, but we've been there before (it's in our roots) and we know how important these coping mechanisms are. Here's what's worked for us:
- We FaceTime. Every day. Well, almost every day. We do it as much as we can. I cannot overstate how much technology has changed the dating game (I mean, obviously. Hint on our meeting story? Tinder). Anywho, technology certainly closes much of the distance, and the ability to see each other's faces every day is priceless. I will usually call him after work or the gym, and he usually calls when he's making dinner and we just understand that that is our time together.
- We text throughout the day. In the same vein as FaceTime, we make sure we're talking throughout the day. I make sure I say good morning when I wake up (if he hasn't already said it first) and we usually ask about how each other slept or how they are feeling (we were both recently sick at the same time, and still shaking it off). I also make sure to say good night before bed. Just checking in throughout the day helps us stay connected.
- But we're not constantly talking. Not only is being glued to our phones impractical, but we've got jobs and things that require our attention that makes a constant string of text messages silly and co-dependent. Not only that, but it's bound to get annoying if you're being forced to communicate on a minute-by-minute basis. Let it breathe. (Full disclosure: At the beginning of our LDR, this was something we did with much more frequency. After all, it was an exciting new relationship and we couldn't see each other every day. We're not boring now — I promise! — but we are secure in our relationship.)
- We plan when we'll see each other next. When we started dating, we didn't go much more than a month without seeing each other before Kyle moved to Indiana. Now, with our crazy work schedules and even further separation, that's not as realistic. Still, we try to have something on the books to look forward to. I flew down to see him in November; we went to visit his family at Christmas; he came home for a week in February. We thought he might come home in May, but that's looking like a pipe dream, so it's time to start planning the next visit. Luckily he has enough freedom to request a vacation, which makes his job>military.
- I go to the gym more. This one's definitely more personal, but it does help. I'm generally a pretty avid gym-goer, but I've had my slips, as we all do. A few months before we moved in together, Kyle came to visit for three weeks and I didn't go to the gym once. I wanted to maximize our time together, because I did also have to work during those three weeks. When we started living together, the pressure to spend every moment together was lifted, but I still maybe didn't go to the gym as much as I used to. Love chub is real, y'all! Now, I have no reason to rush home in the evenings, so taking my time at the gym is a good way for me to relieve some of that stress.
- I try to be honest. I am awful at hiding my emotions, but I'm even worse at talking about them. This often leads to me hemming and hawing over what's wrong, and a frustrated boyfriend across the room. Since we're not in the same room right now, it's even harder. So, I'm working on being a better advocate for my emotions, even if the underlying cause is just "I miss you."
- I wear his clothes. I did this before he left, so it's not something I've reserved for long-distance, but it does help me feel closer to him. I have a rotation of sweatshirts and flannels that I slip into on a nightly basis, which also helps with the cold here in the never-ending winter of Indiana.
- We have our "things." You know that saying about how love is just about finding the person whose weird matches your weird? I'm pretty sure if an outsider were to covertly observe one of our conversations, they would think we were clinically insane. From the things we talk about, to the voices we use, to the pet names we have for each other, our conversations — real and text — are uniquely us.
- "An Awfully Clothed Christmas" This was a fun and silly challenge we set for each other over Christmas: we each had to find the most ridiculous Christmas-themed clothing for the other and then wear the outfits for the entirety of Christmas day. I dressed him up as a life-size elf on the shelf; he gave me men's pajama pants dotted with gnomes (which I love), an XXXL sweater with a puppy on it that read "Dachshund Through The Snow" and a holiday hat with a cat on it whose eyes lit up. We looked ridiculous, but it was pretty darn cute.
- Puppies! We're both dog people, and have talked about getting a dog in the past. Right now, it doesn't make much sense with the way both of us work, but it's something that's always at the front of mind. I will send him pictures of adorable puppies whenever I see them on the internet. He pretends it's annoying, but I know he's just trying not to spontaneously adopt one when neither of us can take care of it. It's cute. (This might just work for me).
Kyle told me once he thought everyone should start off in a long-distance relationship because he thought it made us stronger (edit: he denies this!). While I don't agree with the idea, I can get on board with the sentiment. The distance made us all-or-nothing, so we dove right in and were serious about each other from the start. And while I don't exactly recommend distance, it's certainly manageable if you are able to nurture the relationship. I know that all too well.