We love to hear from our community members, and once a week we choose a question from one to answer right here on the blog. This week, Beth got in touch to ask us for advice about her current relationship situation. Here are our thoughts on the subject!
Q - Hi, I’m Beth. My boyfriend recently moved to another country for a year, because of his job. I’m completely in love with him and don’t want to break up, but I’m not sure how we’ll survive a year so far apart. There’s a big time difference and I’m probably only going to be able to visit him once due to the distance and the cost of the trip, so it’s going to be a long year! Do you have any advice on how to make a long-distance relationship work? Thanks!
A - Hi Beth,
Thank you for your question! Ah, long distance relationships! They’re a tricky subject that divides many people; some believe that they can never work, whereas others believe they’re more romantic and actually help strengthen the relationship in the long run.
One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s not easy; the distance adds an extra layer on top of the usual relationship trials and tribulations. However, there are many couples out there that have proven that the struggle is worth it, and that through trust, patience and a little hard work, you can get through the time apart and come out the other end happier than ever, together. Here is our advice on how to make a long distance relationship work.
Make a plan
When you’re apart for a long time, it’s important to make plans for when you’re together again. If you aren’t sure when you’ll next see your partner, it can make the distance even more difficult than it needs to be. It’s important to have a plan, both for when you’re apart, and for when you’re together again.
If your partner is away for a year and you can only visit once, then plan that visit around the halfway mark. Book the tickets so that you have a secure date to hold on to, and something to look forward to and countdown to. The number will be smaller and less daunting; dealing with time in smaller periods can make it easier to deal with.
You also need to make a plan for the future. What happens when you’re together again? How will you move forward? If you don’t have any plans for after the period of long distance, it can feel like you’re aimlessly treading water, and there isn’t much point to the relationship. Putting the wheels in motion for your future together will help you keep focus, and will make all of the hard work while you’re apart feel even more rewarding.
Be flexible and patient with each other
The key to any relationship, especially a long distance one, is patience. With a big time difference and conflicting schedules that make it difficult to communicate, it’s easy to get frustrated and blame each other. However, these things are unavoidable when you’re in different countries, and it’s important to learn how to be flexible and patient with each other.
To combat the time difference, figure out the best times to talk when both of you are free. Unfortunately, it might be difficult to fit in a full conversation on weekdays due to work and other responsibilities, so try to be flexible and understand that your communication will be different to how it was when you were together in the same place. However, shooting a quick message for them to wake up to, or just before they go to sleep, will let them know that you’re thinking about them.
Scheduling some time that is dedicated to each other will help get you through the times when it’s more difficult to speak. Weekends are probably your best opportunity; schedule in a weekly ‘date’ where you can catch up, or watch your favourite TV shows together. Having this time to look forward to will help you feel more patient during the rest of the time.
Embrace the independence
Try to avoid spending all of your time pining for your partner while you’re apart; it’s not healthy, and it will make the time pass much more slowly! In every relationship, it’s important to have your own interests, separate from your partner’s, and even more so when you’re long distance.
Independence is actually one of the benefits of a long distance relationship, so try to embrace it. Of course you miss your partner, but this is a great opportunity to learn to live without them, and spend time enjoying your own company. Use this abundance of time to yourself to do the things you enjoy that your partner wouldn’t necessarily want to do. Spend time with your friends, start up a new hobby, or take a class and learn a new skill.
Make each other feel special
The most important thing to remember in a long distance relationship is why you’re together, and why all this hard work is worth it. When we’re with our partners all the time, it’s easy to take each other for granted and let the romantic gestures fall by the wayside a little. However, it’s more important than ever when you’re far away from each other, to make your partner feel special and let them know that you’re thinking about them and love them.
Being apart is the perfect opportunity to make the extra effort and go the extra mile (sometimes literally). Instead of relying on texting or video calls, find creative ways to keep in touch. Send them handwritten letters or care-packages, or surprise them with gifts or tokens of your affection. If possible, pay them a surprise visit. All of these little gestures will keep that spark alive and help you get through the tough times.
Long distance relationships are definitely hard work, but if you put in the effort and learn to be patient and understanding of each other, you can get through the tough times, and come out the other side stronger than ever. Good luck!