Featured image: Woods at Falkland Palace, Scotland
Let’s talk long-distance relationships… but don’t worry, I am not here to tell you not to do it. If you are set on doing a long-distance relationship, then listen up. First things first, make sure you’re on the same page. Have an honest conversation with your partner about what you both want. If one of you is only half in and the other is all in, it won’t work. Sorry to break it to you. However, if you both believe that you can do it, then you probably can.
The hardest part about long distance is the anticipation leading up to it, not the actual act. Many will likely tell you that it’s destined to fail and that you are wasting your time: movies, advice columns, gossip blogs, the gum-chomping waitress at Olive Garden who claims to be a genuine “hopeless romantic,” and the old woman next door. To this, I say… that’s just false. If they are worth it, then they are worth it. It’s as easy as that… sort of. However, before you get to the easy part, first you have to do something terrifying: communicate.
Making sure you’re on the same page seems easy, but the definition of page is a bit hazy and quite like a section of fine print in a “Terms and Conditions” page. Figure out things before you get to them if you can. Make sure you’re both on the same page about what may seem like little things, such as partying. For example, if one of you is a big partier and the other is not, then maybe make a plan to call after getting home from going out to make it a bit easier on the non-partier. I’m not saying to stop partying – party on, my friend – however, you’re thinking and planning for two now. That is part of the deal.
Brutally honest communication is truly the key. You will miss them. If you don’t like something they said or did, tell them. If you don’t like that they hung out with someone that makes you uncomfortable, then tell them. If you need to talk more or less (which is totally fine too), then tell them. It’s as simple as that. What they then choose to do with that information is completely up to them. You have done your part. Yet, in addition, when you are making choices, think to yourself, how would that make me feel if they did this?
Another helpful bit is to make plans. It’s the big “p” word that has always horrified my type-B, content (to a fault, at times) self. Why would anyone ever make plans? Before this relationship it was always “men are trash.” Yes, I admit, I was a perpetrator of the ridiculous phrase. But anyways… making plans seems scary. It is a sign that you and your partner are truly committed to being long-term. This is honestly important in long-distance relationships.
Knowing when you will see each other next gives you both something to count down to. When things get hard in your lives it gives you both a “Hey, I’ll see you in (insert time frame here).” It provides a light at the end of the tunnel. On tough days, you may be dragging yourself across a rugged floor to get there, yet the light is still there. Also, even on good days, you will see that light and start skipping towards it with a nice, overplayed Justin Timberlake song in the background.
Also, get ready for a lot of FaceTime calls. FaceTime or Skype will become your new favorite thing now that one of your favorite people isn’t there with you. In the words of someone very dear to my heart, “long distance isn’t hard, it just sucks.” If one of you is still at Vassar, they could have a hard time revisiting places where you all had good times. If one of you is abroad, you will wish they were there with you to see all the new and exciting things that you get to see. However, the sound of the Skype ringtone, melodic yet slightly annoying if you let it ring for too long, will make things better.
Also, let me quickly talk about “fish in the sea.” You have probably heard about how there are so many fish and so little time! However, just because you go abroad doesn’t mean that the fish will be better just because they have accents. Sorry to break it to you, Tom Hardy. If you decide to break up before going abroad and that is what is best for you, then power to you! However, if you are ending things just because people say you need to go fishing, even if you are happy with your fish? Maybe it’s best to just deal with some things when you get to them… if you ever do.
Long distance is not fun. The magazines definitely have that part right. To be blatantly honest, long distance is like a drug withdrawal. You go from easy, instant access whenever you want… to nothing. Your supply is completely cut off. Also, on top of that, you learn to live alone again. However, as truly dismal and vaguely morbid as this may sound, you can benefit from it so much. And no… not in a trying to make you feel better, character-building way.
When you get used to not being with someone all the time, when you do get to see each other, it is just that much better. The heart-fluttering, slightly-nauseating, on-the-edge-of-tears, excited anticipation in the airport while waiting at the arrivals gate is truly thrilling. When they pass through those doors there’s an involuntary sign. When you are finally able to get what feels like the best hug of your entire life, it will all be worth it.