- I wasn't just in a long distance relationship. I lived in Colorado and my man lived in New Zealand. Our time difference was over a day and flights were incredibly long and expensive.
- I married him (and we've been happily married for almost 2 and a half years). Read our love story!
- In the two years we dated before we got married, we saw each other in person a total of 10 weeks.
- Before him, my very first relationship (at 15) was also long distance. He lived in West Virginia. This one did not work out, therefore I also know what doesn't work.
If both you and your significant other are committed to each other and committed to making long distance work, then hopefully my advice can help you through this incredibly tough time.
1) Daily Face to Face Contact
What worked: I can not stress this enough, SKYPE is essential. If you do not have Skype, download it right this second. My husband and I Skyped as regularly as possible. When we both had a free day early in our relationship, I kid you not, we spent 11 hours talking on Skype. Some days, we'd only be able to Skype for 10-30 minutes. No matter how much or how little time we had to talk, having face to face contact regularly was very important.
What didn't work: In my first relationship, Skype didn't exist yet but we used another video chat software at the time. We would video chat every few weeks and it was always on his schedule. If your relationship is going to work, both sides need to make it work.
How to Do It: Figure out a time that works for both of you every day. Commit to that time. Don't wait by the computer all day waiting to suddenly hear from each other. It's unhealthy for whoever is doing the waiting. If one of you can't talk on a certain day, let the other know in advance, or call instead and tell them you can't Skype that day.
|On our first date in New Zealand|
What worked: My husband had a phone plan in New Zealand, 2 hours for $2 long distance. It was too expensive for me to call him so he had to call me. If we didn't get the chance to Skype on certain days, he would always call. In the two years we were long distance, only one day passed that we didn't talk (he worked a double shift).
What didn't work: This one is my fault. I've always had issues talking on the phone. I prefer looking at a person when speaking to them and at 15, I was really uncomfortable with this idea. My boyfriend and I talked on the phone maybe once in the 6 months we dated.
How to Do It: Figure out a phone plan that works depending on your distance or download the app VIBER on your phone. The phone calls are free. That's how my husband now talks to his family in New Zealand.
|From New Zealand to Colorado: Gwith sent me flowers.|
3) Write & Text
What worked: My husband and I would Facebook chat back and forth when we were on the go. If we weren't on the phone or on Skype, we still were communicating. Before we started Skyping and talking on the phone, for the first couple weeks, we would write long emails to each other.
What didn't work: Relying strictly on writing letters here and there. The majority of my first relationship was writing emails. The emails were great (when I'd receive them!) but they weren't the same as having a conversation and they weren't frequent.
How to Do It: Writing and texting should be supporting your relationship, it shouldn't be the key to your relationship. Both should be done to keep up constant communication but should never be in place of Skype and phone calls. If your only option for communication at the moment is writing emails, write them often. Make each other a priority and write daily or every other day.
|Gwith's first day in Colorado|
4) Plan to See Each Other and Actually See Each Other
What worked: On our first date (and only date before I left New Zealand), my husband told me he was going to fly out to the states and visit me. I didn't believe a word he was saying but he proved me wrong. He started looking up flights that night and once we started dating, he told me he was planning to come out in 6 months. He kept his word, saved up his money, and came out for 3 weeks 5 1/2 months later. I flew out to see him a few more times after his visit.
What didn't work: My first boyfriend told me he would be coming out to see me that summer. I asked him a number of times when exactly and the date kept being pushed off, month after month. He never came out.
How to Do It: Commit. If you're across an ocean, the price is definitely overwhelming, so it may take some time to save. However, if you are both committed to the other methods (phone calls & skype) the time should pass a lot easier. Also, be honest with each other. If you can't afford to come out yet, talk about it.
|Spending time at the restaurant Gwith worked at in New Zealand|
|Gwith keeping me company while I recorded my EP in the studio|
What worked: When my husband and I would see each other, we would spend a lot of our time just the two of us. However, I also visited him when he was working. Some days were long and it was harder to be there and not see him but it also prepared me more than I even realized for his job as a chef. If you're going to be together, you have to know each other's actual routines. That said, you're still visiting and your significant other should not spend every day with his buddies.
What didn't work: My first boyfriend and I never actually saw each other after our first date and Skype dates would be missed or cut short because he was too busy with his friends.
How to Do It: Communicate. If you've been spending many months talking on the phone and Skyping, you should already have a deeper understanding for each other. If you're there and feeling ignored, talk about it. My husband got carried away one night cleaning up his apartment and chatting with his flatmates. He had been at work all day. He said he'd be done in 30 minutes and 3 hours later, finally came in. I was upset but we talked about it and worked through it.
In the end, the key aspects of a long distance relationship (or any relationship for that matter) are commitment and communication.
The difference between living in the same city or thousands of miles apart is that your relationship is tested a lot sooner. You can't rely on the physical aspects of your relationship to keep it going. In the end, you're testing how strong your relationship truly is.
In no way am I saying that long distance is easy. It's not. It's a challenge. But so are many things in a relationship. If you and your significant other can make it through a long distance relationship, then in my mind, there is nothing you can't face together.
|My happily ever after.|