Let me start by saying: none of this is easy. I know it's painful and heart-wrenching, even, to be away from your significant other for long periods of time. However, I do regrettably have loads of experience with this. I am currently in a two-and-a-half-year-long relationship and although we see each other at college, most of our relationship has been long-distance; what with school breaks, living far away from each other, and plenty of other reasons. And I know that a lot of you out there have had the same experience; whether you're away from your significant other for different school/work choices, personal/family reasons, or anything of the like.
And I get it. It truly sucks. I'm here to tell you five major tips that have helped me survive it and hopefully can help all of you out there as well.
Tip 1: Fighting Insecurity
We all know the horror stories. The ones about getting into a long-distance relationship only to be cheated on, or break up within a month. And it's stories like these that can make us think that it's not worth it in the long run, that you should just get out of the relationship before you get your heart broken. But I'm here to tell you that it's your insecurity (and our negative society) talking.
For us ladies, in particular, it can be extremely difficult to be at peace while your partner is away. I know I think "Who is he with?!" "Why isn't he picking up the phone?!" and more 'crazy girlfriend' thoughts on a daily basis. It's way too easy to get caught up in what your significant other is doing minute-to-minute. And you actually might be justified in thinking that way. But here's a little advice: if you know you won't/can't trust your partner, save yourself the hair-pulling stress and don't do the long-distance thing. I know, seems harsh. But I promise you that stress will never go away if your partner isn't trustworthy or you're super paranoid.
So I challenge you to really think about it: Are we both in a place where we can trust each other with distance? And talk about it with your partner. The introspection on your relationship can save both of you a lot of trouble, trust me.
Tip 2: Self-Care & Discovery
No, this isn't one of those "take a bubble bath and all of your problems will be drained down the tub" things. If a bubble bath and face mask is all you need, go for it, but there's a lot more to self-discovery in my opinion.
It's a chance for you to be reminded of how AMAZING you are on your own! You're not one-half of a whole, you are a whole, super awesome person who deserves to find happiness within themselves. Personally, journaling and writing have helped me tons to get my thoughts in order. And hobbies like that can be super important to gain some introspection.
If you feel lost without your partner, use this time to find your center again. Whether it's something creative, academic, adventurous, etc. just DO it because no one is holding you back. And give it 100%. Trust me, you will be a much better version of yourself after taking time for yourself. And your partner will be happier for it!
Tip 3: Set a Time To Talk
Now, this is more than texting each other "call me at 8." I know you've heard it a thousand times, but I'll say it again: communication is KEY. If you're the type that sucks at texting or calling back, work on it. If you're the type that texts and calls 100 times a day, work on it. There's nothing wrong with being distracted or overly-enthusiastic, but if you're in a relationship, you need to find the balance.
Setting a time to talk every day/every week can really help with that. And yes, every one of you can find 30 minutes to one hour in the day to do this. There are obviously valid excuses, but communication isn't just key, communication shows you care.
It also helps to have something to look forward to in your day. The days may seem to drag on and on without your partner by your side, but getting to vent to them at the end of the day can make it a lot less dull.
Tip 4: A Little Distance Won't Kill You
Sounds insane, I know. I know the feeling of "OMG we haven't talked in two days, I feel like I hardly know him anymore" and it's really easy to get wrapped up in that. My advice is, see tip number two and breathe, baby. It's OK, and perfectly natural, to have your own lives outside of the relationship.
So don't pull your hair out just yet, you will get to talk to them again. Something that helps me is to write it all down. All the feelings, events, TV shows/movies, and jokes I want to talk about the next time we talk to each other. I call it my "Vent List" and I encourage all of you to make one of your own.
It's really easy to bombard your partner with texts and calls until they finally say "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?" but that doesn't help anyone. Long-distance relationships will teach you a lot about patience, my friend.
Tip 5: Don't Give In To Your "Needs"
Not only is it about patience, but also self-control. When that dumb kid from high school hits you up with the "Wyd ;)" text, please, oh please, ignore it. I have yet another list to help us get through this: The "Why The Hell Am I Doing This" list. It's the one where you write everything down that made you want to stay in your relationship. From the color of their eyes to the best thing about their personality, it can be so easy to forget when you're apart for long periods of time. And then read that list every time you feel yourself straying.
It can be lonely work. Whether you're lonely in bed, or at dinner, or anything in between, I won't sugar-coat it. It's super tough to get through alone. And I know the feeling of just wanting someone there, no matter who it is. But that list is there to remind you that you got into this mess for a reason, and hopefully a good one.
As someone who is currently going through it with you, I can tell you it's possible. And so, so worth it. When you see your S.O. again, the fireworks will be there all over again. Keep your heart happy with things you can do for yourself, and always remind yourself who the f*** you are. Stay strong, friends, I believe in you.