Hear me out, long distance relationships can suck. But they don't have to.
I understand the aches you feel when you are missing your person. And the pangs of jealousy you get when you see another happy couple actually talking in person. And let's not forget about the fun shrinking act of "we only have twenty minutes to talk about our entire day" that comes with long distance communication.
But I refuse to pause my life, wallow in misery and Ben & Jerry's, just because my boyfriend and I are loving each other afar. My life must continue. His life must continue. My motto for long distance (please excuse the upcoming cliché) is to thrive, not just survive (boom).
Humans have a natural inclination to link up, sync hearts, and pair off. It is innately in our genetic makeup to deeply feel and need our partner. We have an evolutionary urge to be together in union and partnership.
Therefore, long distance relationships are not something we would find ourselves gleeful-running-around-skipping-through-flower-fields-shouting; "I'm thriving! I haven't seen my partner in four months, but I'm thriving!" But your life should still continue in a joyous and full way, it is totally possible and you should settle for nothing less. Here are five ways to make sure your long distance relationship doesn't suck.
1. You have to get through the initial mourning period.
When you first leave your partner (this includes anytime after you visit each other), you have to sit it the emotions and feels. Don't try to change your feelings and force yourself to be happy. Miss them, cry, feel sorry for yourself, and get it out of your system. Wallow, really, you need this time. It's important for you to acknowledge these feelings without trying to change them in the beginning in order for you to move on. Repressing these feelings will just prolong the aches and pangs of missing them.
2. Develop a plan of communication and follow it, but also allow for fluidity.
Communication is key to a successful long distance relationship. It is all you have during this time, therefore if your communication is poor then your relationship will quickly begin to crumble. Figure out a system that is unique and specific to you and your partner and follow that. Be honest with yourself. If you need two hours of talking everyday then be direct and communicate that need. If all you have time for on Tuesdays and Thursdays is a few text messages, then you need to communicate that to your partner as well. Figure out a standard of when you will talk and for how long and follow that, within reason. Don't be so rigid to that communication schedule that you miss out on watch the Bachelor with your girlfriends because 'you have to talk at 6:30 every night'. Enjoy your life and allow your partner to do the same. Opportunities for fun /other commitments are fluid and ever changing. Be mindful and open to these rather than feeling shackled to your communication plan.
3. See this time apart as an opportunity, not a setback.
Make a commitment to yourself during this time apart in order to grow. You will be surprised by how much free time you have initially because you are not spending that physical time with your partner. Use this time wisely; meet new friends, immerse yourself in a hobby that you may have forgotten about, or fall more deeply into your passions.
4. Fill the missing space with love.
At times you may feel that your heart is missing some of the love that it had in the past. This is not because you are no longer in love with your partner. It is because your heart misses that fullness and space that physical contact and in-person conversations create. The key here to avoid constant heartache is to fill that missing space with love in other ways. How can you be more loving to your friends, family, and yourself? I find myself craving love in different ways when I am doing distance; longer hugs with my friends, snuggling up to a cozy night in, giving myself time to work with clay, cooking myself beautiful nourishing meals, coffee dates with endless conversation, sending flowers to my mom, etc. Fill your heart and do it constantly. Make loving those around you and yourself a priority. Do this so that you are bursting with love in your own life even without your partner. This in turn will create a stronger and more loving bond between you and your person. You have to learn to build a strong and loving life alone before you are really ready to be with someone else, and distance relationships are incredible at teaching us this lesson.
5. Allow the distance relationship to be the ultimate judge.
If you can't make it through long distance as a couple, then you weren't that secure to begin with. You can never blame breaking up "on the distance." It wasn't the distance, it was the couple. This may sound harsh but hear me out. Long distance relationships have a way of bringing all cracks that existed within the relationship to the surface. I like to think of long distance as a magnet in the sand running up and down the beach of our relationships. If there is an issue buried deep in that sand, distance will magnetically pull it out.
Whether that is deeply rooted insecurity or jealousy that manifests as mistrust of your distance partner, or a physical-only relationship that feels dull and lifeless when switched over to long distance, issues rooted within the relationship will be clear very quickly. And that is a very good thing. Maybe if these buried issues are so important/ problematic that you need to part ways, long distance was a blessing because it helped you dissect and observe the relationships faults at an accelerated rate.
Long distance relationships are a beautiful stage of partnership because they allow for deep progression as a couple, complete commitment to the partnership and give you more space to grow as an individual. Don't look at this time as a sucky phase that you need to get through, be open to all that it can teach you and the deeper love connection that it can bring.