6 Survival Tips for Long Distance Relationships

roadedit3

I met my husband in the summer of 2010. We both got jobs at a camp in Michigan where we had gone to camp when we were kids. He was the first person I met when I arrived. I still remember his bright blue cookie monster shirt (don’t worry, the whole staff was wearing them!) and the way he mocked me for bringing so much luggage! He claims it was love-at-first-sight…but not so much for me.

I arrived at this camp hoping to open a new chapter in my life. I was not looking for a boyfriend and definitely wasn’t planning on meeting the man of my dreams. God obviously had different plans!

After only two weeks, I knew that I liked this guy. I felt so comfortable in his presence.  He made me laugh. He made me appreciate the outdoors. He quickly became my best friend. We spent all of our free time getting to know each other. Before we knew it, we were in love.

40190_1548892888820_1430032214_1461351_2876123_n

40190_1548896648914_1430032214_1461445_3416758_n

But when the summer came to an end, we realized that we were about to embark on a difficult journey. Long distance. Ryan was starting his 5th year of college in Michigan and I was beginning my 2nd year of college in Pennsylvania. We thought a lot about if we even wanted to try but we both decided it was worth a shot. The day we parted was hard. We said goodbye and, before I drove off, he ran back to give me a note. He wanted to remind me how much he loved me.

Then, we timidly started our long distance relationship.

I’m not going to tell you it was easy. It definitely was not. But was it worth it? Yes! I actually believe it was one of the best things for our relationship! Of course, we had our fair share of arguments. I wanted to talk when he was busy. He wanted to talk when I was busy. It was hard to figure out how to have quality time with each other from so far away! But we ended up becoming great communicators. We were forced to simply talk. We couldn’t play games. We couldn’t watch movies snuggled on the couch together. Our relationship depended merely on conversation. So naturally, we got pretty good at it. He became my dearest friend and that has never changed.

Christmas with Ryan 383

Ryandme

After one and a half years of dating, including one breakup (which I’m sure I will talk about at some point), we decided to tie the knot. We quickly got engaged and were married three weeks later! But that is another story for another time!

When it was all said and done, I was beyond grateful to be done with long distance. I cherished every morning that I woke up right next to him instead of having to give him a call. I appreciated being able to walk over to where he worked just for a visit instead of waiting 3 months to see his face again.

We barely ever turned on the TV in that first year. We had built a relationship based on talking and we just couldn’t seem to stop! We were finally able to sit right next to each other and share our hearts. It was such a beautiful time.

IMG_2046-2

IMG_2024

                                                                   Photos by Teresa Mead Photography

I never wanted to think about long distance again! I truly hated it but the benefits of what it gave to us were definitely worth it. We had to learn how to make it work. We had to set rules and boundaries in order to keep our relationship and our relationships with others strong. We failed a lot but it only made our relationship stronger.

Here are 6 “rules” we made to help our long distance relationship succeed. It was a challenge for each of us but, looking back, these are the things that we felt helped us make it through.

1. Stay away from conversations through texts – We made this rule at the beginning and pretty much stuck to it. The idea was so that we wouldn’t be confused by not hearing the other person’s tone. Conversation texting just seemed like a good way to start a fight and keep us from communicating by phone. The times we broke that rule usually ended up in a pointless argument because of misunderstanding.

2. Save “I love you” for phone conversations – This one may seem really silly and, I will admit, we ended up canning this rule toward the end. The reason I made this rule was so that the words “I love you” wouldn’t become something we simply got used to saying without much meaning. I valued those words greatly and knew what they meant to me. I didn’t want it to become a habit that simply got texted once in a while. I wanted to say them and know that Ryan heard me so that he would really understand that I meant those powerful words.

3. Respect each other’s busy schedules – Since we were both in college, we were definitely busy. We both knew that we didn’t want our relationship to jeopardize our grades or the quality of our work. To make sure that didn’t happen, we would communicate with each other about days that were busier than normal or nights we needed to spend working on homework.

4. Try less social media – Not many people understand this one but we actually still follow this rule in our marriage. When we started long distance, we both deleted our Facebook accounts. There is nothing wrong with Facebook! I believe it is an awesome tool for keeping in touch with people who live far away! For us, however, it was just an avenue into our pasts. It was a way to communicate less and distract us more, not just from our relationships but also from our school work. During that time, I struggled a lot with looking at photos from his past and becoming jealous. I wished that I had known the Ryan from years before. I felt inadequate when I saw pictures of old girlfriends. Although it may seem silly, it was a real struggle for me. So, eliminating the problem was best for us.

5. Set aside time for the people you are with – This one was hard for me. With long distance relationships, it is easy to forget to live the life you are in and get caught up talking on the phone. In that year and a half, I hurt friends with not being there but I worked on getting better. If my friends wanted to hang out but Ryan was able to talk, I had to make sure not to choose the guy over the girls. It is a struggle to balance people in two different places but it is important to work really hard to make it work. You can never forget to live where you are.

6. Fight against jealousy and frustration – It is so easy to become jealous during a long distance relationship. It seems like everyone else gets to go on a date with their man or simply hold his hand. Yes, it is hard to see that. And it can be frustrating when those friends don’t seem to understand what you are going through. But don’t allow yourself to dwell on it. You may feel frustrated at times but don’t let it get you down. Remember why you chose this relationship and look forward to when your time apart will come to an end.

If you are currently in a long distance relationship, I hope that my story helps in some way. It may seem pointless at times but, if you are meant to be together, it will be worth it in the end. I would never choose to go through long distance again but, if I had to do it all over, I would.

Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? Are you in one now? What are you doing to help you make it through?