My partner and I have been together for four years and he recently took a one-year contract in another city that he just couldn’t pass up. We agreed to give the long-distance thing a go since it’s got a finite end in sight. Our relationship is pretty solid and we communicate quite well. I find myself missing him but when we speak by phone or Skype, I feel irritated that it’s not the real thing. We get to see each other every couple of months but then our hopes are so high that the time can feel a little strained and pressured. How do we cope?
Even if you are sitting non-verbal across from your partner over breakfast, both of you messy-haired and crusty-eyed, there is a sense of camaraderie that is hard to replicate when you’re not physically in the same space.
Here’s some ideas to help hold you both over until you’re reunited.
Be clear with your communication needs so neither is feeling crushed by not enough contact or smothered by too many calls. Keep communication current: Tell your sweetie about your office-mate’s meltdown at work or the neighbourhood gossip. Focus on quality over quantity — make calls when you are actually in a mindset to fully engage.
Living apart can make the time you do have, either during visits or on the phone, feel loaded with expectation. Even saying hello and goodbye so frequently can feel draining. And those condensed visits won’t be 100 percent bliss each and every second. Give up trying to be a Stepford Husband and allow yourselves leeway to spat over dumb things once in a while — you’re still in a relationship after all!
Similarly, some phone chats will be a little lacklustre and, ultimately, that has to be okay. Expecting occasional lulls might help you feel less wigged out when it happens.
Make sure to discuss boundaries. Are you allowed to hook up with other men during this time apart? If so, is it a “don’t ask don’t tell” thing or do you want each other to discuss any extra-curricular activities? Shying away from the topic guarantees someone will get hurt.
A friend of mine in a long-distance relationship would see the same film on the same night as her sweetie so that they could call each other and discuss it afterward — find creative ways to feel like you’re sharing the same world as your guy.
Get away from your respective cities and travel together some place where your relationship can escape reminders that you live apart.
While technology has made staying in touch so much easier through Skype and text messaging, go old-school and send your guy tangible things — a lusty letter, a mix CD. There’s nothing like getting a package in the mail that you can really wrap your hands around.
No matter how much effort you put into this, there will still be moments of longing and loneliness. Make sure your life here is full. Don’t live in a cave until your honey returns — you’ll only resent him and make yourself miserable.