It’s a Friday, we finally made it
I can’t believe I get to see your face
You’ve been working and I’ve been waiting
To pick you up and take you from this place
Thank you to Mai Zia for sharing this song on Facebook and reminiscing about the times when she and her husband Matthew were in a long distance relationship. She said, “I’m thinking of our weekend trips throughout our relationship and having to part and the nervous feeling of seeing each other again.” Feel free to have this song softly playing in the background as you read this post.
I recently had a conversation with a co-worker who was feeling sad that her boyfriend had to move two hours away for his new job. She was telling me how bummed she felt and how it really sucks that they won’t get to see each other on a daily basis like they were used to. In an attempt to make her feel better about the situation, I brought up the fact that I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in three weeks and how we really only get to see each other about once a month because a. it’s a long drive (212 miles, 3 hours 16 minutes to be exact) and b. we can’t afford to see each other every weekend. The first response I got from her was “what!? how do you guys do it?”
It’s hard to answer this question in a simple format without sounding like I’m completely sugarcoating my long distance relationship with Charles – so prepare yourself when you ask people who are in an LDR, because it’s not going to be a simple answer. Lil history: Charles and I have been in an LDR for a total of about 14 months out of the time we’ve been together.
I have a friend named Maddy who taught in South Korea for a year and started a blog to capture her experiences during her time working and living there. I immediately thought back to one of her articles that gave me insight on how she managed a long distance relationship, not only with her boyfriend Nate, but with her family back in Arizona including her niece who was born while she was still living overseas. As Maddy beautifully put: “By no means have we mastered the art of an LDR. Every day is a challenge, but even in this seemingly crappy situation, I am awfully happy.” Please go on and read her full article here 🙂
In the midst of my brainstorming process for this post, I’ve also found myself rewatching a video made by the beautiful Youtube sensation Jenn Im who I deeply admire. She says,“the best way I can describe it is a constant countdown: I’m either counting down the days until I can see him again or I’m savoring how much time we have left together. It’s a strange balance of anticipation and anxiety and honestly, it can kind of mess with my head if I focus on it too much but I always like to think of the bigger picture.” LDRs seem to be so negative so I love the way she summarized her relationship with Ben and how positive this video was.
Over these 14 months, I’ve slowly been able to see the bright side of being in an LDR and understand the true meaning of missing someone. John Green wrote in his book An Abundance of Katherines:“You can love someone so much, but you can never love people as much as you can miss them.” This whole journey with Charles has shown us that the distance doesn’t have to be as negative as it is portrayed in our society. Here are seven things that has helped us become closer, even with the 212 miles in between us:
1.Pay attention to each other’s daily schedule. At the start of each week, we share our work schedules with each other and plans for the week. We also remind each other on a daily basis; this allows us to make time in between our work shifts and breaks, babysitting duties, and other errands we have to run. The flow of the day typically goes smoother knowing when the other person is occupied with personal responsibilities, leading to less miscommunication. It’s nice just to keep each other posted since we aren’t physically there to kiss each other goodbye before the day starts or meet up after work.
2. Talk with other couples in LDR. I mean, who else can better understand the struggle?? My friend Kunsang rode with me down to Milwaukee because both our partners live there. We even hugged our boyfriends goodbye at the same time when we had to leave before a snowstorm got worse (the things we do for love!). I have another friend named Hannah who’s in a long distance engagement with her fiancé Doug. Gives me the feels when she posts on Instagram about a countdown or just about missing him. Honestly, talking with my friends or stalking other couples using the hashtag #LDR makes me feel like I’m not alone, like there’s a community of couples that can understand what it’s like without an explanation .
3. Connect virtually through a game! I got Charles hooked on a game called Tsum Tsum and we usually play during our free time (aka right before we need to sleep, on the toilet, in waiting rooms, etc). The game requires you to use up one heart for each round and we can count on each other to send more hearts. When we are together, we play on each other’s phones because we have different sets of characters. The competition for the highest score is pretty fun for us too!
4. Go on a fancy date when you finally get to see each other. Make up for lost time by investing in a nice dinner, which’ll make the visit more special. If we get to see each other all the time, we’d probably spend more money on going out. One $50 meal in a month would basically balance out to be $12.50/week. The fact that we actually get to go on a date and sit across the table and share our meals is such an awesome feeling. During my last visit, Charles and I went to the Cheesecake Factory for the first time and we definitely recommend it!
5. Don’t underestimate the power of snail mail. I don’t know about you, but getting a letter or package in the mail always makes my day! We all know how esspensive shipping costs are these days, so it’s so great when we can make it happen every once in a while. I love receiving something physical that smells like Charles or is an inside joke, or just anything that he knew I would love. Use this opportunity to show appreciation for your significant other and spoil them if need be. Unannounced packages are typically the best.
6. Leave little surprises. When Charles first visited me in my hometown, he left me a handwritten letter and it gave me that fluttery feeling when I found it unexpectedly after he had left. Whether you leave a handwritten note in between their notebooks in their book bag or as a draft on their laptop, keep it a secret right before you have to kiss them goodbye for that long period of time. We’ve kept up this tradition and one time I placed a series of post-it notes hidden in places in Charles’ room and in creative spots that I knew he would see later on when he’s getting ready for work or cleaning his room/car. Charles did something similar for me around the time I had to move back home from Milwaukee so I found all the notes one by one as I was packing up my room. These are one of my favorite things to collect.
7. Capture more than the average selfie. I love taking photos and keeping memories of special events that Charles and I have experienced together. But there are a handful of moments that we couldn’t be together because of the timing and distance. Being in an LDR means we will miss out on the small hangouts with our friends, family gatherings, and celebrations. We wanted timeless photos that would capture the two of us in the same lens. Charles and I invested in a photoshoot* and had them taken in the town that we met for the first time.
*For those who were curious, we were in the Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point. Our photographer Yernie (who also happens to be in an LDR), co-runs her photography business called “The Q” with her fiance, Yeng Kang. Here’s a quick shout-out to their Facebook page and Instagram account; do yourself a favor and give em some love.
Thank you to Mai Zia, my coworker, Maddy, Jenn, Hannah, Kunsang, and Yernie for allowing me to use their stories to help tell mine. Like all couples I know, Charles and I are no where near perfect. There are countless times when we just wish we could be there in person, especially for comfort after a bad day. The distance is not ideal but we know that this specific time of our relationship is helping us grow and learn more about one another and about ourselves as individuals. We have had a good amount of practice with our communication skills and we’ve become creative with how we express our appreciation. We constantly remind ourselves that the love we have for each other is greater than the fury behind the small fights we may have. It sounds beautiful and all but there’s a lot of things we need to work on and more we need to realize about maintaining a healthy relationship. Lastly, I’m just hella grateful for the existence of Facetime and all the options of social media that allows me to talk to Charles every day.
Miss you, Charles! “Campth” wait to see you soon, love! -PCL