Living over 13 000 km (8000 miles) away from my fiancé means I’ve learned a few things about being in a long distance relationship. We have been long distance for 17 of the 21 months we have been dating and I may be super bias but I think we are the strongest couple I know.
After being in two failed long distance relationships which both ended terribly, I had lost all faith in any long distance relationships. Then Adam walked in, and well, at first I tip-toed and then I ran full speed ahead into yet another long distance relationship and boy, am I glad I did. Third time lucky, I guess.
I could easily have let the fear of another failed long distance relationship and all the long distance relationship cliché’s scare me away from dating my now fiancé. However, when it’s right, a long distance relationship can be easy. Yes, I said EASY.
Here are 9 things I wish somebody told me about long distance relationships (when they are with the right person):
1. Communication is key
While this is probably the most overused advice you hear for all relationships, communication really is the cornerstone of a long distance relationship. Keeping in contact with your partner becomes a full-time job. You cant just pop them a line or two during the day and then catch up with them face-to-face when you go to bed that evening. It takes a constant effort from the time you wake up in the morning to the time that you put your head on the pillow at night and if you don’t have time, you make it, otherwise your relationship is sure to fizzle out.
2. Sleep, what’s that?
Although I’ve always battled with sleep, since being in a long distance relationship I barely know what a good night’s sleep feels like anymore. Unless I’m seriously jet lagged or that one time I drank more wine than I should have. I suppose this is more pertinent in a long distance relationship where there is a large time difference; at the moment Adam and I are 7 hours apart. When we first went long distance we didn’t go a day without talking on FaceTime after he got home from work, which meant I was going to sleep no earlier than 1 AM every night. I didn’t ever think I would need to sacrifice a basic need for a relationship to work. In all fairness, Adam is more than willing to lose sleep to FaceTime with me and does some days, but I prefer him not to as I end up spending the whole FaceTime call asking him if he’d rather go to sleep because I feel so bad that he is awake.
3. The butterflies don’t go away
You know that feeling when you’re about to go on a second date with someone after the first date went really well and all you’ve been able to do since then is think about that person? That’s exactly the feeling you have in a long distance relationship and it never goes away… thank goodness. The excitement to see each other and those giddy feelings from the beginning of the relationship only get more intense. We are always talking about how amazing it was to see each other the last time we were together and how incredible it is going to be to see each other again. I haven’t seen Adam for almost 5 months (144 days) and when I kiss him in the airport on Sunday it is going to be even more magical than our first kiss. (Yes, our first kiss was magical even though it was in a McDonald’s while an old grandpa stared at us; but that’s a story for another time).
4. Time flies
The longest Adam and I have ever been apart is 7 and a half months. If you tell me on the day I say goodbye to him in the airport how long we will be apart for, I will kick, scream and break down in tears like a toddler because it feels like those months are something I am not quite sure how I will ever conquer. If you tell me at the airport when I say hello to him again how long we have been apart for, I can never quite believe it. When you look ahead the climb looks so long and tedious, but when you get to the end and look back, it is always easier than you imagined it would be.
5. You don’t have to be long term to go long distance
I used to think that it must be easier for a couple who have been together for a few years, and built a solid foundation for their relationship, to go long distance. While that may be the case for some people, I was certainly mistaken. Going long distance after only a month of dating ended up being imperative for our survival as a long distance couple. The first few months long distance were exciting and we never ran out of things to say on FaceTime as we were still getting to know each other and sharing stories from our pasts. We also had never had the opportunity to spend days and weeks on end together, so going long distance we didn’t miss those things as much as a couple who might have even lived together before going long distance. Although we have now had the opportunity to spend months and weeks together without leaving each other’s sides, we are so used to the distance as well that it is not a struggle we can’t handle.
6. Being apart is fun too
The fun definitely doesn’t stop when we are apart. We are both hopeless romantics and definitely put a lot of effort into showing how much we love each other even when we are so far apart. Being long distance means being creative and going the extra mile, (excuse the pun). We spoil each other rotten, write letters, play silly games and organise surprises. It is also so exciting to plan the next time we will see each other. Booking flights, accommodation and planning adventures for our next trip is my kind of fun. As soon as one trip ends we have already started planning the next one.
7. People who don’t know you will always have the most to say
I am so thankful I’ve finally realised this so I can just roll my eyes when someone who doesn’t know me, or know us as a couple, has something negative to say. People who don’t know us constantly question how I could possibly trust someone so far away or how I could possibly know him well enough to be marrying him, as if because he is 8000 miles away I know him so much less than if he were right here. I have stopped trying to justify myself to these people as they don’t know us at all. Anyone who has been in the same room as us together or heard the way we speak about each other when we are apart, has never found any reason to question us. To me, all that matters is that we have the support of the people who really matter.
8. There are more sacrifices than you expect
Although when you are apart you may not have to make small sacrifices like sacrificing a girls’ night for a night with your boyfriend/fiancé/husband, there are so many sacrifices in the bigger picture. When Adam and I met I had a large amount of money saved to backpack through Europe for a month. As soon as we started dating, that trip went out of the window and I had to put that money aside so I could afford to travel South Africa with him for two months when he visited for the first time. While I wouldn’t trade those two months with him for the world, it was still a huge sacrifice to give up the dream trip I had been planning and saving for for over a year. One day I know I will make it to Europe for a backpacking trip, but for now that is not something that is on the cards for us. Being long distance means working two jobs while studying full-time and still saving over half of my salary just to see my fiancé again. It means one of us will always be away from our families during the holidays or we ourselves would have to be apart. It also means that for us to ever be together one of us needs to move away from all of our family and friends. It is our choice to be together and we know full well that being together means making all of these sacrifices, which brings me to the final point:
9. It is so worth it
I have never once questioned if what I was doing was the right thing for me or ever thought of giving up on us. The relationship we have is once in a lifetime and I know there is no one else in the world I would rather be with. For this reason I will lose sleep, treat my relationship as a third job, put in the effort, roll my eyes at naysayers and make all the necessary sacrifices to make it all work. Because at the end of it all, that feeling I get when I finally get to be in the same room as the person who sets my soul on fire, is so absolutely worth it.
Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what I’ve learned from my long distance relationship and also that you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about us as a couple. Feel free to comment and keep the conversation going. I would love to hear your long distance story, or if you’ve never been long distance I’d love to know what you think of long distance relationships.
Be awesome and don’t be afraid to own it ❤