It all began back in October 2015 at a friend's wedding
"How's dating going?" My friend Ryan asked.
My response? "It sucks!"
After Ryan inquired further, I responded with "If you happen to know a normal guy who loves to work out, likes to travel, isn't an ass and wants to settle down with the right person one day, let me know."
Turns out that guy was in front of my face for years. He just lived on the other side of the country.
From the very next day, so began a relationship I never imagined with a man I never dreamt possible. I'll save you the mushy gushy rant about how amazing he is - but really though... #swoon
Only downside is we happen to live on opposite ends of the country. A 3 hour time difference and 5 hour flight are all that separate us. No big, right?! Well, sarcasm aside - this relationship may not be logistically convenient but I'd rather do temporary long-distance with him than a geographically convenient relationship with anyone else.
Here's what I've learned ever since embarking on my first long distance relationship:
1) Have honest dialogue. For someone who has worked in Journalism and corporate communications for her entire professional career, it took this relationship to make me realize what a crap job I did of communicating in relationships. We all carry wounds from our past which may cause us to throw up unnecessary walls and shut out communication once it gets "hard." I thank my lucky stars that I have finally met a man who has an unbelievable ability to communicate - and make me feel safe enough to do so myself. When you're dating someone whose night is always just beginning when you're headed to bed and who you only get to see once a month, it's easy to get hit with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out!). It's easy in this digital age to rely on text messages as a sufficient way of communicating, but it's simply not enough when you're trying to build a meaningful relationship. Call when you say you're going to. Use FaceTime to make you both feel like your daily lives are intertwined. With that said, I've learned that when you love someone - when you TRULY love someone - you do so in a way in which they feel free. If my boyfriend wants to lay around on a Sunday afternoon in silence or spend a Saturday golfing with his friends, I respect that. And he does the same for me. Talking through serious topics - including a vision of what your future looks like (i.e.: distance is temporary and you both will do what it takes to close the physical gap in order to begin living life together!) ensures you're both on the same page going in. There are plenty of nights when I lay in bed and remind myself that one day instead of saying goodbye, we'll simply be saying goodnight :)
2) Make time for the ordinary. After doing this long-distance thang since October, the thing I get most excited for when I know we'll see each other again is the mundane. I crave falling asleep next to him, waking up and seeing his sleepy face next to mine. I get butterflies thinking about ordering in dinner, opening a bottle of wine and binge-watching tv shows. Don't get me wrong - checking out great restaurants around our respective cities is a blast. As is spending time with our wonderful friends & family. So is taking day trips, planning vacations together and fantasizing about what the future holds. But when I close my eyes and think about what I cannot wait to do once we're together again, it's always about simply being next to one another. Nearly any couple could have fun if all they lived for were glamorous weekend getaways and a constant state of excitement. I'm not saying the honeymoon phase is anywhere near over, but standing in the bathroom putting on face masks together and making breakfast on sleepy Sunday mornings now makes my heart feel home.
3) Always know when you're going to see each other again. The only thing worse than leaving each other is not knowing when you'll see each other again. For this reason, I think it's critical to never leave without having your next trip planned. This may be challenging if one of you is not a planner by nature but knowing when you'll see each other again gives peace of mind and makes the time apart slightly more tolerable. Even the strongest people will have insecurities creep in after too much time apart. Whether it's a quick weekend together, a month of quality time or a vacation somewhere you've never been - having that date circled on your calendar and an "end date" to the distance is key.
At the end of the day, all I want is to find someone who is there for me when things are wonderful, terrible - and every day in between. Someone who makes my heart happy and makes me laugh harder than ever before. Someone who is proud to have me and challenges me to be a better woman. Someone to support me when I really need it and listens to all my zany ideas. Someone who is willing to put my needs before their own. And most importantly, someone I love enough to do the same in return. And if that means racking up some Delta SkyMiles in the process, so be it.
And above all else, don't forget to maintain a sense of humor and perspective. You have someone you love, who loves you! Life is good :)
What about you? Have you ever done long distance? I'd love to hear!