Until I moved to Luxembourg I had never met so many people doing the dreaded long-distance relationship (myself included). Some lessons are harder to learn than others, but here are my Top 5.
1.You CAN be alone
We all know people who are together, just to be together – afraid of a lifetime of awkward wedding invitations ‘No, I don’t need a plus one – it’s just me’’ and only a pillow to hug on a Sunday evening when you are hungover. It’s easier said than done - but when you are forced into a long distance relationship you have no choice but to find out what YOU are like with no human crutch. It absolutely SUCKS at times but in other ways you will find that you have an abundance of time just to do things you like. Whether that be watching a soppy movie that you know your other half would complain about, or perhaps it’s something as simple as going shopping without an impatient person in tow, maybe even going out for Sushi or some other kind of food that you like but your partner doesn’t. You get used to your own company and, most importantly, you realize that you don’t NEED anyone else – rather, you actually just want them.
2. That distance will grow – (it’s normal) but don’t let it kill your relationship
When you start omitting details about your life because you can’t be bothered to explain them or you think ‘oh he/she won’t get it’, that’s a death knoll to an long distance relationship (LDR). Ok, you are not going to say exactly what you ate, who you talked to, what kind of public transport you took that day – no, this is mundane and not interesting to anyone. HOWEVER, small anecdotes, like that really funny joke you heard at work, or that awkward moment you had on the bus, all make up the FABRIC of our life. If you start to leave out stitch after stitch, that fabric will eventually tear away to nothing and you will find you have nothing to talk about.
3. It’s quality not quantity
Believe it or not some people claim that living separately improves their relationships, in fact you have some modern relationships where people live separately out of choice. The old adage ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is true to a certain extent. When you only have that weekend together, are you going to spend it in front of the TV together eating crisps? Absolutely not. Romantic dates, weekends away in random destinations, festivals, wine tastings …you name it. You make the most of that time together, and you put ‘your best self forward’ not your Netflix watching, junk food addicted self.
4. You need a deadline
An indefinite LDR will usually not work. There needs to be clear goals and timeframes – a bit like any project you are working on, and what project is more important than your LIFE and the person you choose to spend it with? Both parties need to share a similar outlook, be it 1 year or 6 months, there needs to be a time when you plan to live in the same place, otherwise you really need to have that clichéd ‘where is this going’ conversation.
5. Put your relationship first
It can be relatively easy to feel ‘single’ as you live the life of a singleton minus the romantically seeing other people – apart from that you are still cooking for one, possibly attending the cinema alone (haven’t tried it yet but it’s a personal goal) and having nights out without your significant other. It’s paramount that you prioritize your relationship and still call to ‘’check in’’ before you hit the bar, if the option of going to that party this weekend or going on that trip with your friends clashes with plans you made with your partner- choose him or her. You already don’t see them very much so when you start putting other things and people ahead then it doesn’t look good. Extra effort is required on both sides and making that person the key priority in your life is essential.
Christelle McKillen works in communications for RTL Group and in her spare time blogs about expat life at Girls on a Train, like many a millennial she considers herself a budding Instagram aficionado @girlsonatrain_