Oh boy where do I start. Every relationship is unique and luckily some relationships never have to be tested by distance. Because let me tell you, being in a long distance relationship is a true test of love, trust, and commitment.
I have become quite the expert in a long distance relationship. Paul and I are high school sweethearts that have truly beat the odds. I knew well before I even met him that I wanted to go away for college. It was one thing I knew I needed to do and being in a relationship wouldn’t change that. Paul is one year older than me so he started college before me. He stayed in New Jersey but that was not an option for me. I decided to go to West Virginia University, so I good 5 hour drive away. He wasn’t happy about it but we decided to stay together and see if it could work. At first it wasn’t looking good for our relationship. I was trying to be my own person and learn to be independent which is not easy to do with someone attaching you to home. We dealt with jealousy, trust issues, and lack of communication. We became needy and I learned that being the one who moved away was easier than being the one back home. The first year was the absolute worst I’m not going to lie but it got better. The next two years after that became easier. We just got used to being apart physically. We began to trust each other and we both grew a lot as people.
After being comfortable with being apart, the biggest problem our relationship faced was being back together. After I graduated I came back home to live with my parents and start adulting. By being back home, meant Paul and I could see each other whenever we wanted. After three years apart, it was hard for both of us to begin an adult relationship together. A couple months after I came home, we actually broke up for a while. We just couldn’t handle being jolted together again. We only broke up for a couple months but I knew I wanted to take that time to work on myself. I knew if we ever saw each other again I wanted to be the best version of myself. It was honestly the best thing that could have happened. We got back together obviously, and learned how to be adults in a relationship.
That lasted about a year until more distance would enter our relationship. Paul decided to move back to Poland, and I was going to move with him just not at the same time as him. I needed more time to make the move so I would leave about 6 months later. Let me tell you, that distance was hard. There was a six hour time difference and no chance of seeing each in person until I moved. It was that distance that I understood how Paul felt when I moved to college. It sucked. He was having fun and doing all these new things while I was stuck working and living at home. Finally I moved to Poland and so far the longest time apart we have spent apart is a month (when I went home to the US). A month is a piece of cake in comparison to what we have done but even that can be hard.
Now for my advice. The absolute biggest piece of advice I have is to communicate. Talk to each other. Make time to FaceTime a couple times a week. Don’t go crazy and expect a three hour conversation everyday. Be okay with texting a lot of the time. If something is bothering you, say it. While I agree some things are better said in person, it is so important to get all of your concerns out at the time instead of holding it in. Sometimes you can’t see each other in person. I can count the amount of time I saw Paul in the 3 ½ years face-to-face on my fingers. Another key part of communication is to be reasonable with your expectations. Don’t expect the other person to text back right away. They still love you and want to talk to you, they may just be busy.
Without trust, a long distance relationship will not work. If you don’t trust your partner, you will drive yourself crazy thinking about what they could be doing. It is not healthy for you or your relationship. You know your partner better than your friends or family, so don’t listen to their opinion or mistrust and listen to yourself. Believe me, trusting your partner fully is the best thing you can do.
Focus on You
This point is so important. After looking at a long distance relationship the wrong way, my family actually helped me turn a hard situation into something so proactive. I took the time away from Paul to focus on myself. I still was committed to my relationship but I was able to be selfish as well. I was able to grow as a person and learn to be okay with being alone. I spent time with my friends whenever I wanted and did things that I wanted to do. This is a concept that is hard to explain because focusing on yourself is something so personal. The biggest thing is to not dwell on missing your partner and celebrate being you. I like to think that if you work on yourself when you see your significant other again, you will be giving the absolute best version of you. Make their jaw drop.
No matter if you have spent years or only a couple days apart from your partner, distance sucks. Even though it can test your relationship in ways you didn’t know existed, it can be a rewarding period in your relationship. Communicate with each other in a way that works for both people. Trust each other 100%. And take the time apart to focus on you. I have told this to Paul, and he agrees, that our time apart was the best thing for our relationship. If I didn’t go away to college I don’t think we would be together. And if we left for Poland at the same time, there would be resentment toward making me move. Everything happens for a reason and I am proof that even though it seems hard now, a long distance relationship can show you how strong your relationship can be. Sometimes it won’t work out but when it does, trust me the time apart is worth it in the end.