Long Distance Lovin’…The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Edition:
A typical conversation I have about 16 times a week:
Them: “So are you dating anyone?”
Me: “Oh yeah! I am. We’ve been dating a while now, he lives in LA. We’re long distance.”
:: cue them giving me “the face” (usually looks like a combination of a shart face and reliving a memory of Chinese water torture)
Them: “That really sucks. I could never do long distance, I’ve done it before and it was a total fucking nightmare.”
Me: “Umm… yeah, well, we’re doing pretty good. Normal relationship shit but we are making do.”
Them: “Well good for you guys, hope it works out better than mine did.”
First off, people, this is not encouraging/helpful/kind in any sense of the word. I get that you had a shit relationship that happened to be long distance, but what’s your excuse for the other 10 failed love connections? What? Do you not date on dry land because it didn’t work out that one time?
If you’re in a LDR (I hate this acronym but I’m not getting paid for this shit and even decent readership is not gonna pay for my oncoming carpal tunnel syndrome) you get me. Even if you aren’t, you should keep reading…you might find some nuggets of mediocre wisdom in here somewhere. (I said might…no guarantees)
So here’s the good: The best thing about an LDR are that the times you actually get to breathe the same oxygen are usually REALLY amazing. Like…whoa. Also, you tend to be able to appreciate your time together and don’t take your man/lady/manlady for granted. You also REALLY have to learn to communicate, whether your “I hate the phone” ass likes it or not. And you have to get over your own shit schedule and idea of convenience pretty quick.
And the bad: Fighting while far away totally sucks. Like…it’s the worst. There’s no kissing and making up, there’s no face to face time (other than skype), and things take a little longer to heal than in normal life. You’ll learn to navigate this better every time (although, Charlie and I still fall on our face with this A LOT). Also, being involved with someone in never never land has some major financial obligations so make sure you’re ready to take that on and work together.
The ugly: You don’t get to be with the person you most want to be around. Plain and simple. It gets hard (think running a marathon after a 2-day jelly donut binge), but if and when you realize that loving them well, is more important than satisfying every selfish need and want that pops into your mind…well then, there’s some potential for success there folks.
DISCLAIMER: By no means do I have this ALL figured out. This is what I’ve learned (and failed at and will continue to fail at) for almost a year and a half but sometimes, it’s good to share what you’re learning even if you’re not a master at it yet. Right?!
Here are 5 ways to survive an LDR:
-Overcommunicate: Now, I don’t just mean tell the other person EVERY SINGLE TIME you are annoyed, upset, or in a bad mood. Every relationship has “stuff” and of course you’re gonna need to bring up unpleasant topics once in a while and hash them out. But here’s a trick I learned early on…communicate the good stuff, VERY intentionally. The problem with LDRs is that you cannot treat them like an in-person relationship. That’s like playing football with golf’s rules. Get used to telling that person the things that they are great at, why you love them, things that they’ve done to make you extra happy, and encourage them on things they are working on in their personal life/work. Notice and express the little stuff, it matters.
Real Life Example——> “Hey, I really appreciate that you called me on your lunch break because you knew I had to get up early (my time) to get to the gym. That was really thoughtful. Also, nice abs” (just kidding about the abs..but yeah, they’ll appreciate that too)
-Make a Schedule: Girls especially get discouraged when they don’t feel secure in “what’s going to happen” in the future. You don’t need to pencil in your f*cking wedding date, but planning and booking your plane tickets well in advance shows that you are making a commitment to moving forward. You’ll also get to look forward to the next time you see each other which always makes the distance seem shorter.
Real Life Example——> Book your trips one or two in advance and talk about things you’re excited to do together in the future. Also, take turns visiting each other’s cities and plan a fun vacation once or twice a year to escape! Make an list of adventures and things you want to do together, it shows you’re in it for the long haul.
-Learn How to Fight Fast: I’m a verbal processer and can fight and talk things out for hours and days on end, usually peppered with some intermittent bleary-teary-eyed monologues. Charlie likes to go to his cave and process (what is he doing in there?!). You can imagine how this is a tough thing to overcome, when all I want to do is talk and all he wants to do is not talk to me. An integral part of not accidentally killing each other is learning how the other one fights, and then coming to a consensus on where to meet in the middle.
Real Life Example——> Charlie and I recently were bickering about something dumb, and after some frustrating banter, he was like “I gotta go”…then “recanted and said “No, I’m here. I can talk for a minute more”…well what did that do to my cold dead heart? Calmed me right the fuck down, is what that did.
-Put in the Effort, No Matter the Distance: LDR’s are a lot of work, and the more effort you put in, the happier you’ll be. I promise. It seems counterintuitive that putting more effort toward could bring joy, but it’s true people. Send them letters, emails, unexpected texts, small thoughtful gifts, plan surprises, and ask questions about their day/life, even when you want to fall asleep in your cereal. If you’re both trying your best, it WILL be enough. Take the time to figure out how they want to be loved, and do it.
Real Life Example——> As you all know, I’m pretty much a carnivore and want to be eating steak 90% of the time. Yesterday, Charlie sent me (in the MAIL) a Trader Joe’s giftcard so I could go buy yummy food for my extra long, hard week at work. See guys, it’s not just about the flowers and chocolates. Get creative…and girls, it’s not just their job to please you, return the favor.
-Be Normal: It’s easy to have an awesome time together when you’re sunning your mutually tanned asses in Turks and Caicos, but guess what? You are going to have to clean this person’s throw up/pee/poop one day. You might have to move apartments together, or go to Costco. Vacations are great, but try to pepper in some normalcy on your days together to get a feel for real life. Walk to the grocery store and pick up food and cook a casual lunch, go to the coffee shop and read a book together (not the same copy of a book, that’s just fucking weird), or exercise and sweat it out with them. If you can love each other while picking up dog shit, you’ll probably love each other for a long time.
Real Life Example——> We’ve discovered that as much as we have fun taking epic trips, we really like napping in grass.
I hope this helps. Like I said, we’re just all limping along here together. But it’s worth it for that “forever person” and hell, it can only go up from here.
Reporting from in the trenches,