Today, on the cheesiest of holidays, many girls will be waking up to flowers, breakfast in bed and a host of surprises to look forward to. I, on the other hand, have woke up alone with a nose bleed and the prospect of another afternoon of countable and uncountable nouns with 12 year olds - not comparable, huh? That, my friends, is the joy of the Long Distance Relationship.
Today, I'm recycling an article I wrote for the wonderful Scriptoeris magazine for their travel section: how to survive what most couples dread...
The life of an international girl often seems envious…gelato by the Trevi fountain, hot chocolate on a snowy Red Square, Peking duck in Shanghai. Though we’re grateful, those of us who are lucky enough to be living the dream will readily tell you that we’ve sacrificed things to allow us to make that dream a reality. For some it’s living without peanut butter (yet to be a hit in Russia), for others it’s going without a daily fix of drama from Albert Square. But of all the things we do without, the worst thing in the world to have to leave behind is a relationship.
The prospect of embarking on a Long Distance Relationship (LDR, from here on in!) is often daunting and the pages and pages of internet drivel on the subject are more likely to have you running scared than feeling reassured. LDR pintrest is enough to make you want to vomit (soppy is not even the word), magazines who claim to offer helpful advice end up printing what is effectively a guide to sexting. I know that there are no bunny-boilers amongst my readers and that, if you’re willing to commit to an LDR, your relationship is based on more than the occasional saucy picture. With that in mind, to whom can you ‘sorted’ girls (and guys!) turn for advice?
The essential LDR Survival Guide, of course!
First things first, please don’t view your LDR as a second class alternative to your relationship at home! Of course you’d prefer to be there snuggled on the sofa together and sometimes you may resent being in an LDR but always remember that making your choice to live away doesn’t mean that you are sacrificing a life together. It may be different from the life that you’re used to but that doesn’t mean you’ll get any less from it. The best relationship advice that I have ever been given is to each live your own lives and also live your life together. Happiness is in the freedom to be your own person and make your own choices, and also to have someone to share those things with.
It may sound blatantly obvious, but trust is the most important basis of an LDR (and of any relationship for that matter!). How can a relationship survive across the miles if you’re living in constant fear of the girl that your Mr may or may not have spoken to on a lad’s night out? The fact that you have committed to a LDR says a lot about your relationship – if he wanted to be with someone else, he would have ended it before you got on that plane.
Balance is the key to a happy relationship wherever you may be. Any relationship is a two way street and effort has to be made on both sides – if one person instigates every conversation, sends messages to no avail and waits patiently on Skype when the other has forgotten a chat was even arranged, resentment is going to build.
Be considerate. If you’re the one on the adventure, you may want to launch in to an hour long account of all the exciting experiences you’ve had this week, but remember your other half has things they want to share too. Remember the little things – ask how that meeting went or how the essay reading is going. Though you’re off on a new adventure, let them know that you still want to know about their life back home. Equally, if you are the person left behind, put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Sure it’s exciting being in a new place but it can also be quite isolating. Your other half could be waiting on a message from you and its always disappointing if it never comes – if you’re too busy to talk just let them know. Don’t underestimate the power of common courtesy!
With all the technology now open to us, the world has never been smaller. This is a godsend for those of us in LDRs! No more spending thousands on long distance calls and texts – all that you need in life is a smartphone and a couple of apps. By all means use Whatsapp for funny anecdotes, send cheeky pictures on SnapChat and share tourist snapshots on Instagram, but don’t let them become a substitute for actual conversation. After all you, don’t want to forget what his voice sounds like! Let Skype become your new best friend! It’s a great medium through which you can organise date nights too – what do you love to do together when you’re at home? If its popping down the pub, why not both buy your favourite tipple and have a virtual drink together? If it’s Saturday afternoons on the sofa watching Big Bang Theory reruns, why not watch the same episode together over Skype?
On hard days, you will most certainly have to remind yourself that an LDR isn’t a permanent arrangement – keep your end in sight. It always helps to have something to look forward to be that a visit from the Mr or a special day you have planned for when you get home. Spending your time moping won’t make the clock tick any faster, so throw yourself in to every new experience and take every opportunity that comes your way. You’re away for a reason – make it one to remember.
We've done it before, we're doing it again and we're still going strong!
What are your tips for surviving long distance relationships?
P.S. Happy Valentines ;)