There’s quite a high chance that at some point in your life, your relationship will be tested by distance or separation.
To put it plainly: no matter how long or short the time or distance is, it’s nearly always going to suck.
(Sorry, I don’t gloss over things- I’ll give you the harsh truth.)
The only experience I have of a relationship is a long distance one. With my partner’s job, I’ve not seen him more than I have seen him. It can range from weeks to months- it’s currently a minimum of 4 months until I see him next.
As you’ve already seen, I will not downplay the reality of it, but I’m also not here to feel sorry for myself and get showered in pity!
Instead, I want to provide some support and guidance for any who would find it useful; you might have met your S.O at Uni, and both now have to return home. Or you might just be considering whether you would be able to withstand it or not- whatever the reason, if it’s going to be of use to you in any way, keep reading!
So, I’ve compiled a list of points that should either be considered, or can prove useful when facing the almighty blow of separation.
You might surprise yourself…
This is something that comes with nearly any relationship, but it is very much significant within long distance ones.
I thought I knew myself to a T before going into a long distance relationship. But as soon as I was thrown into the deep end with my first period of time away from my partner, I found that I reacted completely differently to how I’d anticipated.
You might know yourself as quite a hardened and independent individual, but when it comes to the distance, you could transform into a needy emotional wreck with no warning.
Equally, you might be petrified of being absolutely distraught upon the disconnect, but when it actually comes to it, you might find yourself handling it a lot better than you thought you could.
Basically, there’s no telling how you’re going to deal with things until you’re actually in the situation.
Twists and turns…
There is no constant in separation: you can be up one minute, and down the next.
My standard timeline goes something like this:
- Emotional wreck in the lead up to and event of separation (I think I am Kleenex’s biggest customer…)
- In the few days after, general numbness and emotional exhaustion- basically zombie mode.
- After that, it’s adjusting and getting on with normal life, filling up time as much as possible
- Halfway through starts to get harder, as it’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other
- The ‘dip’ starts, where it gets harder and more emotional
- Then in the last quarter-ish of the time, there’s both a sort of yearning impatience and an excitement for the reunion.
- Then- REUNITED! (until the next one…)
This might look all neat and tidy, but this is very generalised. As I said, there are constant up’s and downs. You just have to be grateful for the up’s and get yourself through the down’s (tips below!)
To do or not to do
It’s a horrible choice to make, but sometimes you really do have to decide if it’s something you can do.
Before coming into my current relationship, I don’t think I would’ve said I could handle it. Now that I am facing long distance, I’ve found that I can get by, but definitely wouldn’t put myself through it optionally.
The main thing to consider is: is it worth it?
As harsh as it sounds, if you think you’re going to really struggle, you need to make sure you’re putting yourself through something pretty pants for something that makes up for it.
I know that I would much rather go through these periods of not seeing my partner than lose him completely, but for some the balance of pro’s and con’s need to be considered.
Don’t be prepared to just throw something away as soon as there’s the risk of long distance- just consider the long term and what is best for you.
So, if you are going to be parting with your partner for a significant amount of time, you will almost definitely need some help getting through it (if you don’t, please tell me how you do it!)
With my experience of long distance, I’ve accumulated some coping mechanisms that might prove useful for others. Having said that, we are all different- not all of them will be applicable to everyone, but it’s always worth a try to find out what works for you!
FRIENDS + FAMILY
It’s an obvious one, but it’s always good to have some support!
Surround yourself with people who make you happy.
I’ve found that changing your perspective of time really helps. So if you’re facing 2 months away from each other, try and break it up!
Seeing friends in a couple of weeks? Focus on that 2 week wait. Then after that you might have some time off work- put your attention on that. Then say the month after is Halloween; spend some time organising your costume.
You get the point- but breaking up your time makes the overall duration of separation a lot more manageable. You go from having 2 months to wait, to a 2 week wait for this, then 2 days till that- etc.
FILLING YOUR TIME
It’ll be a common conception that you should fill your time as much as possible and keep busy busy busy.
This can help for sure, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
You might find that actually just giving yourself time to relax and breathe can be more helpful; it’s all just about the balance that works for you.
DISCLAIMER: SOPPINESS INVOLVED… (sorry)
One of the biggest things that helps me to cope is small personal items/ possessions from my partner. This can be anything from his worn T-Shirts that smell like him, to pictures of each other.
Presents can be a really nice to thing to do when you’re saying goodbye- my partner gave me a lovely necklace to wear just before he left, and I’ve worn it everyday since. Likewise, I made him a keyring from a token that we had kept from our first date (I don’t think he’d wear a necklace!)
It doesn’t have to be a massive gesture or involve spending heaps of money, but having something to keep hold of is always a massive comfort.
It’s not all doom and gloom…
Believe it or not, there are actual perks to long distance relationships!
As cheesy as it is, absence really does make the heart grow fonder…
I cannot describe the feeling of running into your partners arms after a time away from each other.
It can help to create a healthier relationship…
I’ve found that both me and my partner treat each other much differently to how we might if we knew we could always see each other. We don’t want to waste time being negative about small, irrelevant things that we might get hung up on if we were in different circumstances.
The level of respect and patience is massively increased.
One of the best things about long distance- minimal effort! I hardly have to worry about looking amazing all the time, or shaving my legs constantly. I know this won’t apply to everyone as we all have different grooming habits, and it’s normal in a relationship to get comfortable enough to not care too much about these things anyway, but I definitely save a lot of money on razors- and I’ll take any perk that I can!
My partner is massively supportive and is so brilliant with encouraging and motivating me to achieve things. But there is definitely a difference in my productivity when he is here, and when he isn’t. If I have the option to chill with him with some nice food and a movie whilst I have a stack of emails to get through- do you blame me for being tempted?!
It definitely helps to take temptation away for a while so that I can get my head down and get on with things without distraction.
Everyone is different, and will handle this differently.
But hopefully my small excerpt of wise-ish words can be somewhat beneficial to someone out there.
Long distance relationships are doable- sometimes you just need a helping hand to get through it.
Wish me luck for the next 4 months…!