On Long-Distance Relationships

Since I moved back to New York, Kevin and I are now officially in a long distance relationship. What are you guys going to do, a lot of people asked, wide-eyed, as if we were signing up for an Iron Man. We’re new to the game with a lot still to navigate, but we’re finding ways to make it work for us. Some things already feel super different. Texting, for instance, used to be a run of the mill form of communication (“I’m running to the store — need anything?” “Be home in 15.”). It now can feel like a lifeline, especially on a bad day or when I’m especially missing him; seeing his name pop up on my screen can completely brighten my mood.

Of course, the experience is completely different depending on the people involved, but I’ve found it helpful doing a bit of reading and leaning on girlfriends. Here are some tips…

On phone calls 

“It’s okay not to have the most amazing, lively conversations every time you talk. When starting a long-distance relationship, the pressure is definitely there for that. Some of my favorite moments of my relationship with Andrew were actually the long, quiet calls, when someone would ask the other, ‘Are you still there?’ It felt like those lazy nights we used to spend together, hanging out on the couch together, but doing our own thing.” — Stella

On fighting

“Communicating by text or email, rather than in person, makes it a lot easier to stop yourself from saying things you don’t mean. Maybe you can’t argue and make up in a single night — but being apart from your partner means that you can take the time to be thoughtful about what’s bothering you, and deliberate about how and what you want to communicate.” — The Cut

On time together

“There’s something thrilling and special about having short bursts of time with someone: You appreciate the moments together so much more. Everything feels more romantic, and time together feels precious. I felt more present and in the moment when we’d get to see each other. We’d plan dates more carefully, and even things like eating takeout pizza in bed watching old James Bond movies felt like an event. On the flip side of that same coin, time spent together is freighted with more meaning, so if you’re in a bad mood, or if things aren’t “perfect” and romantic, it feels extra frustrating or like something is so off. I think that there is just so much more pressure in general when time together is fleeting, which heightens all emotions, whether good or bad.” — Posie

On boundaries

“One night, maybe a month or two after we started dating,  my boyfriend and I were chatting about my friend who was recently cheated on by her long-term boyfriend. I quickly followed by saying that if he did that to me it would no doubt mean the end to the relationship. (I can feel you cringing! I was cringing.). Dramatic? Maybe. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. It set a clear boundary of my expectations and actually segued into a wonderful chat over mezedes (the Greek version of tapas) about what the other constituted as cheating. Plus, it was still so early on in the relationship that it felt theoretical at best, but also pretty empowering.” — Rena

On keeping the spark

“For some people, it really offers a separation between the erotic and the domestic. You have your home, I have my own, you have your garbage can, I have my garbage can, and when we meet, we don’t do garbage cans.” — Esther Perel

On the little things

So far, it seems like it’s the little things that make a big difference. For example, we watched Stranger Things around the same time, and were able to freak out over texts (I wish I had known about this feature, which lets you stream Netflix at the exact same time). One morning when I had a tough day ahead, I woke up to an email from Kevin wishing me luck. I’d also love to gift each other stationary for Christmas so we can write each other snail mail, which feels like the most romantic gesture.

We’re lucky in that we’re not so far away (the drive can be under 5 hours), and it’s only been about two months, so I know we have a long road ahead. I’ve heard about the importance of setting an end date to the long-distance-ness, but I think it’s equally as important that we take it day by day and focus on our own lives. After all, I feel like I’m still learning so much about what I want to do and how I want to shape my life, and Kevin has equally as much going on himself. It’s hard; sometimes I wish I could snap my fingers and just have some answers — but I also feel compelled to honor this (uncharacteristic) adventure-seeking side of me that brought me to NYC to tackle a completely new career. I’d love to know: Are you in a long distance relationship, or have you been in the past? What made it work (what didn’t?).

P.S. Thank you so much to Stella, Posie, and Rena for contributing. XO

Top photo via For Emma.

3 thoughts on “On Long-Distance Relationships

  1. I have been in a relationship for 8 years and three of those were long distance (first, second, and sixth years together, apart). Making sure each partner shares the burden of visiting equally made a huge difference. Even when my partner lived in our home town and I wanted so badly to be there and also see my family, it still meant I was the one who was packing, traveling, feeling rushed to fit it all in, and then hurrying back Sunday night in time for work Monday. When I brought it up and he started coming to the city to see me, even though I wasn’t also getting in the beach walks and dog snuggles, it was worth it to be more relaxed and feel like we were putting in equal effort.

  2. I’ve been in a relationship for 4 years, 2.5 of which were long-distanced. We’ve been reunited for a year now and the beauty of our time apart is how special every moment, even the seemingly not important ones, now feels. I thought this feeling would go away after a few weeks, but it actually stuck.

    On a smaller scale than having an end date to the distance, what was essential to me was knowing the next time we would see each other. We were lucky to not be so far away from each other (me in Montreal, him in Southern Massachusetts), so we were able to meet up every 3 weeks or so. To be honest, this was just enough for us – we were both very busy so 2 weeks seemed somewhat short, but 3 weeks was the threshold to missing the other too much.

    Another thing that helped was to call each other every day, no matter what, even if just for 5 minutes.

    The last thing I would say is that trust is extremely important to make it work!

    Good luck and wish you two the best 🙂

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