Tips for Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

February 14, 2015

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As many of you know, when Matthew and I were dating we were in a long distance relationship for a while. I had moved down to Los Angeles after I graduated from college and he was  still up in the Bay Area. Same state, but over 6 hours away. As anyone who has been in a long distance relationships before knows, it’s tough, no matter the distance. It’s not easy and definitely not ideal, but sometimes it’s what you have to do. Matthew and I did a long distance relationship, or LDR as it’s affectionately referred to, for about 6 months. I know many people who have been in them for years, and I currently have two of my best friends going through them now. I wanted them to share their experience with you. Both have different stories and circumstances but hopefully it will inspire those of you who are in a long distance relationship.  I also think that some of their points would be beneficial for others in relationships or about to start relationships. Lizzie and I have known each other since we were 6 years old, and Hannah and I have known each other since we were 11. Both were in my bridal party and I love them so much! I hope you enjoy!
HANNA and JESSE
Hi y’all, my name is Hanna and although I was born and raised in Los Angeles, ever since my boyfriend, Jesse, moved to Houston, my heart is in Texas. Jesse and I met while working for the company lululemon athletica in Pasadena. We had both graduated college and it was a stepping stone for each of us. I feel forever indebted to lululemon for gifting me the courage to reach for my goals (of being a Los Angeles Realtor), and for meeting my wonderful boyfriend. The company set a foundation for us to bond over: setting personal, health, and career goals. I goal coached Jesse while we were just friends, and I pushed him to stay focused on taking the GRE and getting into a neuropsychology program. He coached me on taking that next step to run my own business and pass the real estate exam. Those hours of studying definitely helped us get it know each other better and grow closer.
Jesse and I met in 2010 and started dating (secretly, shh. Don’t tell lululemon) in early 2011. We have now been together for 4 years. In early 2014 Jesse was accepted to the perfect program for his studies. The only catch? It was in Houston, Texas. Knowing he was going to leave was really tough, but nothing could have prepared me for the actual day I left Houston to fly back to LA alone. If anyone was at the George Bush International Airport on August 22, 2014, and saw a girl bawling her eyes out and roaming the airport like a lost puppy…that was me! I felt like my world was turned upside down, and I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Jesse and I had been living together for about 8 months before he left, and I knew that things wouldn’t be the same anymore, so I had to lift my chin up and move forward.   
After many days of crying (and lots of ice cream), I came to realize time slowly helps heal everything. I had the support of family and friends, and in the beginning I used them as a distraction. I knew I couldn’t run away from my loneliness, so I had to happily accept the challenges of my new life, or else it wasn’t going to work. I have ended up truly liking my long distance relationship. It has added a new dimension to our relationship, and we continue to bond over the simplest things (like Netflix shows we watch alone and meals we cook for ourselves). I’ve actually come to love “me” time too! So here are a few tips that have kept us going strong and moving forward:
1) Accept your new relationship – This took me awhile to understand. Jesse and I were bickering a lot in the beginning, and mostly because of me. I hated FaceTiming, and I hated the idea of him being on a computer screen. I was in denial about what was going on, and it took almost 2 months before I realized it was really fun to see him on the computer and phone! Both people have to be ready to face the challenges and enjoy the new kind of relationship you two get to experience. It takes full commitment on both sides, but once you both have accepted this, it’s really exciting!
2) Communicate the small stuff – Both people need to feel comfortable being candid. Each person should say what’s on their mind without feeling nervous. Listening is also a key factor. If one person lets something fester, it can build up and get worse. It’s best to keep everything open and talk about whatever comes to mind. No matter how big or small the issue, it’s best to talk it out and not wait it out. Also, I love literally communicating the smallest things, like what I’m eating. Snapchat is such a fun app for us! I send photos/videos of where I am, what I’m buying, etc. I love seeing what photos I get in return since it allow me to be a part of his life.
3) Schedule a weekly date – For Jesse and I, this isn’t a flexible date. We set it in stone, and we don’t change for any reason. It’s tempting to want to hang with someone local who asks if you’re free, but you’re not. The date is as real as if your partner was actually in the same city as you (for me, this took some getting used to). We love watching movies together. Jesse and I love renting a Redbox movie, getting on FaceTime, and watching it together as though we were on the couch together. I actually forget that he’s not there for a little bit since we’re talking and laughing. When I think back to memories of watching certain movies, sometimes I confuse which movies we have watched together in person versus those via FaceTime!
I hope this helps for any of you in LDRs. I am newly obsessed with the show Friday Night Lights. Of course, it’s partially because I think I’m Texan, but I also love the messages each episode send. The football team’s motto gets me every time, and I truly feel like it pertains to my long distance relationship. “Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t lose!”
LIZZIE AND MICHAEL
Hi everyone! It’s Lizzie. Since I last guest posted here, I moved to Riverside and started a grad program to earn my PhD! I’m about halfway done with this crazy endeavor, and amongst other things I’ve accomplished during this time, I’m really proud to say I met and fell in love with my wonderful boyfriend, Michael. He was earning his Master’s in mechanical engineering at the time, and we met playing on a grad student softball team. We were friends for about a year, and only started dating a few months before he was scheduled to graduate and move back to the east coast for work (of course!). So we decided to casually date (definition: going to lots of Dodgers games and re-watching old episodes of Downton Abbey) for the few months he had remaining in Riverside….BUT that plan fell through as I realized I really enjoyed spending time with him and feelings developed, etc. etc. You know, a pretty typical example of failure to be the “cool girl who can keep things casual”. Luckily, he felt the same way I did and we agreed to give the infamous LDR a try. In December 2013 we drove across country (which is really fun by the way, I recommend everybody do this at least once in their lifetime!), I dropped him off in Maryland, and flew back to CA on Christmas Eve. And for the past 14 months we’ve kept a really good thing going, and I’m really proud of how our relationship has changed and grown despite having 3,000 miles and a few time zones between us. And I can genuinely say I am happy in this relationship; yes, I would prefer to not be long distance and maybe I would be even happier if we weren’t, but for the time being and given our individual circumstances, this works and I am very happy knowing that I have someone in Maryland who truly loves and respects me. 

Below are a few tips that I believe have been essential to keeping us happy in our Long Distance Relationship.

1) Have a healthy mindset. This is a broad statement. For me, it means that going into I knew that I loved him enough to give the LDR a try, which meant I wouldn’t sabotage it by creating problems or angst, but I would also re-evaluate every so often to make sure I was still happy. And If I wasn’t, then it would be fine to end it knowing that I gave it a really good, fair chance.
2) Jealousy is not allowed. Ever. I think jealousy is something that can easily creep into an LDR since both people are living life independent of one another while still trying to stay connected emotionally. If you start to feel jealous, know that it is poison and will kill the relationship faster than anything else. So if you care about your relationship, do whatever you need to do to rid it from your relationship, which brings me to my next point….
3) Communicate. I think one of the things Michael most appreciates about me is that when I am feeling upset about something, I immediately and directly tell him. Not in an accusatory way, but rather in a “when you did or said xyz, it made me feel like this”. I trust that he never means to hurt my feelings, but if he does, it’s important he knows that what he did or how he did it caused me to feel not so great. And I so appreciate that he listens to me. He doesn’t get defensive and makes a really good effort to change that behavior in the future. Which means that our phone calls are usually spent talking about good things and are rarely spent fighting! 
5) Make time for one another. Michael and I still go on a couple dates every week! This might sound kind of corny in writing, but seriously, this is something we both value and really look forward to every week. We set aside uninterrupted time when we can Skype, I grab a glass of wine and he grabs a beer, and we usually play an online board game against each other (I highly recommend Ticket to Ride) or catch up on TV shows we like to watch together. With baseball season around the corner, we’ve added mock fantasy baseball drafts into our rotation too! Doing this is so valuable because we get to spend time together while doing something fun and engaging. Trust me, after time it’s really hard to have extended phone conversations when there just aren’t that many new or exciting things going on in our lives. So this is a really nice way to hang out, but not have to fill the entire time with back-and-forth conversation about how nothing interesting happened that day!
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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I love you all and am so appreciative for all the kindness and love you’ve shown me throughout the years!

 Have any of you been in long distance relationship? If you have any tips to share, please leave them in the comments!

xox

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