Seeing that it’s Valentine’s Day, today’s post will focus on love. More specifically, on long distance relationships. My girlfriend Louise and I will share our seventh anniversary next month, and we’ve spent the past three years over 700 miles apart. I’ve gotten to come home for summer and Christmas, but for over 7 months out of the year we never get to see each other. This means I haven’t seen her on my birthday, Valentine’s Day, or our anniversary in three years.
It’s been tough, but we’ve gotten through it. In a lot of way, I think it’s made our relationship stronger. So Louise and I figured we would each post our 5 biggest tips for surviving a long distance relationship on our blogs. So please check out her post after you’ve read mine!
1. Send thoughtful presents and cards. One of the toughest things to do in any long-term relationship is keep the romance alive. This is obviously even harder when you’re hundreds of miles away from your significant other. I think that the easiest way to do this is to send thoughtful presents and cards when the time comes for such things (birthdays, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, etc.). I’ve always tried to do this in the past, but I had some trouble with it this year. After nearly seven years together, it gets hard to think up creative and thoughtful gifts. Louise was terrified that I’d start repeating my old presents and end up barraging her with hundreds of messages in bottles.
Louise – “You’re great at giving presents. I really loved that message in a bottle you sent me before. Don’t send me any more!”
I ended up getting her gift cards to places I knew she liked. That’s not romantic at all and I feel like I partially failed her this Valentine’s Day. Thankfully, I tried to make more of an effort on the card. I explained how much she meant to me, how proud I am of her finishing school this semester, and how much I missed her. I also threw in some haikus because I’ve been known to dabble in poetry from time to time.
I also have a much more romantic gift planned out for our anniversary next month. I can’t share it on this blog since she reads it, but it’s very personal and something I’m really excited to get for her. So not every gift needs to be some monumental life-changing present, but really try to make an effort to be thoughtful.
2. Do things to remember how great it is to be together. I get so busy at the hospital here that I don’t have time to sit down and wallow in depression for never seeing my girlfriend. Sometimes I get so wrapped up taking care of patients that I go through the whole day without thinking of anything else but veterinary medicine. That’s normal, but I also don’t want to forget how lucky I am to have such a wonderful girlfriend.
Sheer beauty and grace. (This is a very rare serious caption.)
There are times during the day when I come across things that remind me of Louise. And even if I’m really busy and my mind is wrapped up in something else, I focus on her and think of how much I miss her. For example, when I walk to the hospital I cut through a parking lot and there’s always a grey Pontiac Sunfire sitting there. Louise has an identical car. Even though I’m usually cursing how cold it is, seeing that car reminds me of Louise and I always take a few seconds to think of her. Also, Louise is obsessed with tiny dogs, especially ones with severe disabilities.
Her current favorite is Marnie the Dog.
So whenever I see a little chihuahua at the hospital, I always take a moment to think of Louise and how great of an owner she’ll be to her own little puppy one day. (Something tells me I’ll be thinking about her non-stop during my neurology rotation.)
Seriously, there is something very wrong with these dogs.
So while it’s fine to be busy and caught up in your own things, take some moments to remember your significant other and how much they mean to you. Not only is it important for your relationship, but it will usually put you in a better mood and better your day.
3. Talk about your significant other. This goes along with keeping them in your thoughts, but it deserves to have its own slot. I always enjoy when I get the chance to organically bring up Louise in a conversation with my friends. Not only does it show the other people in your life how important your significant other is to you, but it brings back a flood of happy memories. All the people I work with in the hospital have heard about Louise and agree she is one of the most awesome people ever. They’re anxiously awaiting her flying out in May so they can finally meet her.
Like six girls in my class by now – “So I stalked your girlfriend on Facebook, and I just want you to know she’s drop dead gorgeous!”
4. Don’t follow communication obligations. It’s important to talk to your significant other frequently. But you shouldn’t set minimum requirements for yourselves. Don’t ever say, “We promise to have one 20 minute conversation each day.” Due to your wildly different schedules, it’s very likely that you’re not going to find a time when you’re both in the mood to have a long, deep conversation every single day. For the first couple years Louise and I would try to have a single long conversation every night, and it just ended up frustrating both of us after a while. Instead, just talk when you can. Even if that means you go a day or two without a conversation longer than five minutes, it’s better than forcing things. And it makes the occasions when you do find time for great, long talks that much more meaningful. Louise and I usually end up having one or two great conversations that last an hour or so every week, and I really enjoy and treasure those more now that we’re not forcing them every day.
5. Do something with your time apart. If you’re in a long-term & long-distance relationship, you know that being apart isn’t going to last forever. Yes it’s sad to be away from the one you love, but don’t just sit there and be miserable about it. Instead, take this opportunity in your life to do something with your free time that you’re not spending with that person you love. Louise is taking this opportunity to work on her blog, fashion line, and Youtube channel.
Sometimes I pop in to give her a much-needed hand with her makeup.
As for me? You all probably know about that by now. I’m promoting my novel, writing a second book, and working on a TV pilot. So find something that you really enjoy doing and use your time apart to pursue it.
Well that’s my advice for a long-distance relationship. Like I said earlier, Louise has her own words of wisdom at her blog. Please check it out, let us know what you think, and share your own experiences with a long-distance relationship. And thanks for reading!