It's a simple fact that a good relationship will bring out the best in you. They will encourage you, support you and help you flourish. This is true of all relationships, but it is especially true of your romantic relationships. Although relationships with family and friends are important, romantic relationships are unique in their centrality to our lives, and therefore the huge impact they can have on our decisions and life choices.
Being in a long distance relationship is hard. I can empathise; I spent two years in a long distance relationship with Paul. Happily, we now live together and I do not spend all my money on train tickets. However, although that time was difficult, I would not trade it. There can be a joy in a long distance relationship. So often, it feels like survival is the key message of advice targeted at those in long distance relationships, and I find it a bit patronising. Like you don't already know that Skype is a good idea?
I didn't want to feel like I was waiting the whole time. Waiting for the weekend, for a week together, for the time that we would live closer together. That's no fun, and it's important to remember that your life together is *now*, not in some mythical future-time. So instead of focusing on just surviving, why not focus on thriving instead!
1. Use your time apart constructively
Chances are that you don't have exactly the same interests and hobbies as your partner. Use the time apart to your advantage - watch the television programmes the other hates, spend time on a personal project or pursuing a hobby or sport. Do something to boost your career. You get the idea. Not only will it make your time apart go faster, you'll both become happier, better people with interesting things to say on the phone every night!
2. Be reliable and consistent
I'll admit, this is a bit more of a 'survival' style tip, but it's relevant I swear! The best way to get through a long distance relationship is for both of you to be reliable and consistent. If you say you're going to call, call. If you usually text when you get home from a night out, text. If you email first thing when you get into work, email. Work out a routine and then, as far as you can, stick to it. It'll be different for different people - you might want to speak three times a day or only three times a week. But you already know this, right? The reason I say it is because having that set routine is the basis of letting you thrive. If you know when someone will call you can plan your day better to make the most of it. It relieves the stress and anxiety, and helps you feel supported and cared for. Which of course, leaves a lot more emotional energy for all the other exciting things you will be doing!
3. Let the space between you bring you closer
I totally cringed as I wrote that, but I do think it is worthwhile. One of the best things about long distance relationships is that it forces you to make an effort. You *have* to talk if you are on the phone, so talk! Set clear boundaries and expectations - they are all the more necessary when you are apart, but it can carry through to the time when you are together. Learn to trust your partner, and work on getting them to trust you too. Talk some more. There are so many ace things about being in a long distance relationship, because you are after all, still in a relationship!
4. Foster your other relationships
An oldie but a goodie. You should never neglect your friends and family just because you are in a romantic relationship, but when you are away from your partner (who is often a major source of emotional and practical support), you need a strong team of excellent people around you more than usual. Enjoy time with the other people that you love, and savour the fact that you have this time to spend with them *because* of your long distance relationship. For me personally, moving to be with Paul (and for Uni) has meant moving away from a large number of my friends - you can't have everything unfortunately! So I really appreciated the time I spent with friends before I moved, and I like to think that the strength of those friendships is now enough to survive the long distance too!
5. Don't put your life on hold
That's what it all comes down to, at the end of the day. Stop waiting, and start living. Do not pass up opportunities. This is your life right now, and although it might not be an ideal situation you know as well as I do that your romantic relationship is not all you are and all your have.
Do you have any tips for thriving, not just surviving, in a long distance relationship?