By Erika Moen on December 16, 2011
On a regular basis, I get asked for my advice on doing a Long Distance Relationship, seeing as Matthew and I were in one for three whole years while he lived in England and I lived in the USA, before we got married in 2008 and he begun his immigration process. (You can read my comic about it, if’n you wanna! It’s where I cribbed all the following images from.)
So here is a reply I wrote recently on the subject to someone asking for advice.
Long distance is SO HARD, oh jeez.
I can only talk about my own experience, and everything I say you’ve gotta reform to fit your own situation, ok? It’s not like there’s a Right Way to do this, there’s The Way You Two Figure Out Together.
Doing long distance means you BOTH have gotta be willing to put in the time and energy to keeping the relationship alive. I guess that’s true of a relationship that’s taking place in the same place too, but when you’re separated and only one person is doing all the work, man, it is probably not worth it to continue. You’ve both gotta go into it knowing this will be hard and that you’re both going to have to make time and space to nurture your relationship in spite of the physical separation.
Communication is VITAL.
Matt and I had long distance calling cards we’d fill up each week so that we could call each other at least once a day (although now with Skype you can do it that way and save a TON of money). And then, of course, we would text each other and have chat clients open on our computers. It’s ok if you don’t have anything super exciting to tell each other, the important thing is to just check in, say hi, say I love you, and keep the bond there. He had his own alarm set to remind him to call me right after my own alarm clock would go off in the morning, so I’d wake up to his voice every day. When I was still in college, we would set up our webcams and just leave them on while we both studied, even though we weren’t necessarily talking with each other the whole time. Stuff like that.
If possible, always have a date set up for when you’re going to see each other again. (Yes, long distance gets expensive SUPER FAST). Matt and I would trade off visiting each other, and we’d split the cost of the plane tickets. At best, we’d see each other every three months, but sometimes it would go as long as six months. But as long as we had a date to look forward to, it made getting through each day easier. When we didn’t know when we’d see each other again, shit would get hard and we’d each start thinking ‘Crap, how can I live in limbo? Maybe I should just end this…’ (not because we didn’t love each other, but because how can you be in a committed relationship when you never know if you’ll get to see them again?) So for us, it was so important to nail down the dates we’d see each other again.
It’s like, imagine you have to pee, right? It is INTOLERABLE if there are no bathrooms around, you know? Like, man, you are going to PEE YOUR PANTS RIGHT NOW. But if you know there’s a bathroom just a block away, you can moderate the urgency with which you have to pee, you can hold it till you reach the bathroom. It’s exactly the same with long distance. If you don’t know when you’ll ever see your partner again, your mind very easily goes into “Emergency! Maybe this isn’t worth it!!” mode (for good reason). But if you have a date on the calendar and can count down the days, it keeps the panic moderated, because you just need to hold out for a specific number of days.
Financially, to afford all this, I didn’t spend my money on ANYTHING other than the absolute necessities so that I could stockpile any extra cash for plane tickets and phone cards. I didn’t go out with friends and when I did, I was that asshole who would only have a glass of water or a side of toast at the cafe. I never bought anything other than groceries, rent, and utilities. It was super spartan living, but seeing Matt was worth it.
Haha, hope that wasn’t too doom’n’gloomy!
If you’ve got a person who’s really worth it, then they’re worth making sacrifices :) Well, within reason, of course! But the sacrifices above were worth it to me because now I get to spend the rest of my life with my soulmate.
(Also, just between you and me, sex with your partner for the first time after having been separated for months is awesome. Just… y’know, just throwing that out there.)