For those of you who know me, you know that my boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for about ten months. Luckily for us the long distance will end this summer! All in all, we will have been apart for one year with him living on the west coast and me on the east coast. I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy–there have definitely been challenges– but I’m thrilled to say I’m happier than ever. After some reflection, I notice there are two major things that have kept our relationship strong: communication and travel.
Communication is so essential to our relationship. It has laid a really strong foundation for us because all we have are our words to tell each other how we feel. If we are feeling happy, sad, nostalgic, moody, whatever, the other person won’t know so it has to be expressed over the phone. We have to communicate how much we love the other person or how they might have hurt our feelings…over the phone. And then we have to work it out that same way. We don’t have the “luxury” of having a disagreement, going to separate rooms, and then making up over dinner. But because of the distance we have become experts at using our words and voices to demonstrate how we feel and use it to make the other person feel loved and understood.
Another key part to this past year has been travel. The only way to see each other is to fly across the country, so we have made a vacation out of each of our visits. I always joke with Ryan about how important “making memories” is to me. After every visit we spend weeks reminiscing about that seaside lunch we had on the pier or the long drive we enjoyed together. We treasure simple things like drinking a coffee outside or laying on the beach side by side. Traveling to Las Vegas with friends was such a highlight of this past year too. It created so many memories we held onto for months afterwards.
Traveling with someone you love helps you learn a lot about them. You see how they handle a stressful situation or how they treat staff who are waiting on you at a hotel, restaurant etc. You can’t escape the other person when you are in a car driving with them, so you learn if you really enjoy each other’s company (we do!). Travel gave us something to count down and look forward to–this was critical to me being able to get through the long stretches apart. I am lucky to say we were able to see each other about every two months.
When you are in a long distance relationship you appreciate the smallest of things. Holding hands, giving each other a hug, being able to see each other eat or laugh or cry. These are all moments that often get taken for granted once you see each other day in and day out.
Of course I am also so excited to begin a new chapter in our lives. You know, the part where we get to see each other all the time. But I will always treasure these special memories we made while apart. I noticed we were also able to grow individually as well as together. Travel and communication helped me through this last year, and if you are in a long distance relationship, I know these things can help you too.
In a few weeks, Ryan and I will make a cross-country road trip back to Virginia and start the next chapter in our relationship together!
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What did you find helped you?
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