Exactly a year ago, Matt and I moved back in together (again). For those who don’t know our story, the 3 months after I moved to Chicago were the most difficult in our relationship. If I say life, am I being too dramatic? I learned a lot when we were living 2,000 miles apart from each other. Anyway, here’s how to make a long distance relationship work.
The CliffsNotes version of our story is that I got a job in Chicago first. We were both living in LA at the time. From the moment I got the job offer to my first day in the office was less than 3 weeks. It was fast. Neither one of us were prepared – there wasn’t time. We had to focus on the end goal which was to get us both to Chicago. I moved on October 2nd of 2016 and Matt moved just over 3 months later. Timing wasn’t perfect but we made it happen. The moment we walked into our apartment in Chicago on January 4th, there was an immediate sense of relief that washed over both of us.
While we didn’t make a long distance relationship work for an extended period of time, there were a few things that really helped us. I’ve gotten a ton of questions asking for advice on Instagram so I figured why not share what got us through? If there’s anything that helped you get through one, I’d love to hear it too!
Have an end in sight.
Even if it’s not a permanent end, plan the next time you’re going to see each other. We didn’t know how long it would take for Matt to get a job here in Chicago. The job market is tough here especially at the end of the year during the holidays. What really helped us was knowing we only had to go x weeks without seeing each other. When you’ve seen someone every day for the last 4 years, it’s hard to go to the other extreme. I’d argue more difficult going the other way (we did long distance for 9 months at the beginning of our relationship). However, like most things, knowing there is an end at the tunnel gives you the strength to push through. No matter how long that tunnel may be.
PS. When you do see each other next, don’t over plan! Make sure you guys have time to relax together versus planning the perfect, action-packed weekend.
When you’re living apart, you don’t have the luxury of just watching a movie together or giving each other a hug. Let the other know what is going on in your head. Learn as much as you can about each other and you’ll find that you build one of the best foundations for a long-lasting relationship. Express yourself and your love consistently. There are many moments of struggle and it helps both sides to be reassured! Don’t avoid the difficult topics either. Talk through them. You’ve got nothing but time!
My initial instinct was to shut down and close up when I moved to Chicago. I was overwhelmed by adjusting to a new job, a new city, and living without my best friend all at the same time. Not to mention meeting a ton of new people! I was so frustrated with that feeling of being overwhelmed that my instinct was to hold it all in and not talk about it with Matt. This was weird considering, like the girl in any relationship, I’m always the one to insist that we talk it out. Once I admitted how I’d been feeling, things got much easier and we could commiserate together. That way we were bonding versus putting distance between us (figuratively).
Do something together.
Just because you can’t snuggle up on the couch, doesn’t mean you guys can’t share an experience. Matt and I randomly started watching The Bachelor during our first stint at a long distance relationship. I didn’t love the show and neither did he but it gave us something to talk about and stay up with. We looked forward to Monday nights when we could recap what we thought of what had happened. That’s why we still watch it (although not as religiously). It will always hold a special place in our heart. Plus, the show is about romance!
If you’re not into television, read a book, do a Skype session, or take a walk “together” outside. Something you guys can talk about or talk through. Whatever you’re interested in, find a way to share that with each other or even turn it into a game!
Keep things fresh.
Spend the time that you would be driving to his place or cooking dinner thinking up fresh, exciting topics to talk about. Avoid the “good morning”, “how was your day?”, and “goodnight” routine. Send a Snapchat with a funny filter, Instagram message each other memes, or leave each other a voicemail just telling them that you love them. Don’t put limits on your creativity! That being said, make sure you always say good morning and goodnight in some way.
Even if there is no beauty filter, set time aside to Facetime or Skype. It is so comforting to see the face of the one you love! Schedule these sessions on a schedule that works for you guys. Whether that’s nightly or once a week, do what works for the two of you.
It’s all mental. While you may be trying to stay heads down in the day to day to pass the time, keep your head up about your relationship. This is just one of the challenges that you will overcome. Don’t listen to the skepticism coming from anyone else either. You do you, girl! It may take a little extra effort to get to your end goal, but relationships aren’t easy. Remind yourself that it will be worth it in the end. Don’t give up, you’ve got this.
Have you been in a long distance relationship or are you in one now? What has helped you?