Here are some facts: I didn’t expect to fall in love. When I first met my boyfriend, I was excited to feel wanted and to flirt and to go on good dates, (especially after a parade of really awful first dates) but I didn’t want anything serious. I was graduating in the spring and getting ready to leave my college town for my big city/hometown of New York. But he and I hit it off right away and were stuck like glue almost from the moment we started dating. Still, I did not want to call us a “thing” at first, so I started referring to him as my “gentleman friend” or “gentleman caller.” My friends taking a 300-level Jane Austin class certainly appreciated my victorian antics.
Still, because I’m a hopeless romantic, I fell in love. And he fell in love, too. I can’t help thinking about a part from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, where the main character says, “I fell in love like you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” And of course that is exactly what happened to me.
After graduating, I moved back home to New York to work and he stayed in Virginia to continue school. Gentleman Caller has taken a few trips up to the city to see me, and I have some excursions planned to see him this fall. Between weekends of mini-vacations, Skype dates, phone calls, and plenty of texts, together we have been navigating the world of long-distance dating. It’s not easy, but here are some of the things that I’ve learned:
1. Communication is key.
There are many times that we both wished aloud that we could hold hands or kiss or just feel the comfort of being physically next to each other, but sometimes it’s really nice to be able to lay in bed and fall asleep listening to the other’s voice on the phone, or to have someone who can just listen to you. Communication doesn’t have to be constantly texting or calling, but finding the right times and mediums that you feel comfortable being together, just separately. Set up a weekly Skype date, or text each other funny memes throughout the day. It’s also okay to want space to focus on the real world, as long as you both are comfortable with how you touch base.
2. Keep planning and looking forward.
I love having something to look forward to. Maybe I’m planning to send him a gift for his birthday, or we are thinking about what we’ll do the next time we’re in the same place. We keep going and keep moving, because the world doesn’t stop turning. Even if things don’t feel definitive, feeling like there is always something on the horizon can really boost your spirits when you feel too far apart.
3. Get creative!
It was so fun to send my gentleman friend a gift and have it surprise him on his doorstep. Handwritten notes are always warm and thoughtful, too. Think of little ways to say “I’m thinking of you” and go out of the box. Gift-giving is one of my love languages, and I don’t care if I’m sending memes, leaving cute voicemail messages, or practically shipping myself across the country, it’s the thought that makes the most of the gift!
4. Remember to be human.
We all have heard the stories, perhaps one partner goes away to college and ends up cheating on their long-distance partner, or maybe a couples living and working far apart can’t find the time to see each other, so they grow far apart, or people feel like they start living separate lives. I knew people in college who were in long-distance relationships. Some of them worked, and some of them didn’t. But in the end, you treat it like any other relationship. You put in love and care and work and understanding, and things will turn out all right in the end.
What do you wish you knew from being in a long-distance relationship? Let me know in the comments.