A new opportunity can take you across the world, and if you’re brave enough, you take it. A job offer, heading off to school, or simply changing scenery are incentives to make a big move. Unfortunately, seizing this opportunity may mean you have to leave some people behind — one being your significant other.
Your partner may not come with you on this new adventure for various reasons. It could be you both aren’t ready to move in together, they have an opportunity to keep them in place, or your move is only temporary. Whatever the reason, long-distance has become a reality.
While you have to leave your special someone physically, you don’t have to leave the relationship behind. If life takes you down a path where your in-person relationship switches to long-distance, don’t fret. It’s possible to make it worthwhile and, dare I say it, fun.
My partner and I recently had to go eight months apart. We met in the UK, where I worked for some time, but I moved home to the States when the pandemic struck. Our lives were separated into two different countries. Due to the travel restrictions in place, it was impossible to visit each other. Borders were closed, so we had to hunker down for a bit and ride it out till traveling was safe again.
We knew it would be tough not being able to hang out. Not only did we enjoy each other’s company, but in a more difficult time than usual, we became a steady support system for the other. Nevertheless, we remained optimistic that we could still find value in our new digital relationship and were determined to make it entertaining.
There are many ways to keep a relationship fulfilling when going the distance. Take it from someone who’s been there done that. Here are a few tips to help keep your spark alive:
- Clear communication
- Be silly
- New hobbies
- Date nights
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Conversations solely around the weather aren’t going to fuel the flame that is your relationship. However, my partner and I did talk on the matter more than once as we watched the seasons transition.
Small talk will always be inevitable in conversation, but it shouldn’t be all of it. Don’t be afraid to have those deep conversations. Now is the time to bond emotionally and feel out the compatibility sans physical intimacy.
In a long-distance relationship, you become more attached to the emotional side of your partner. With the physical aspect gone on temporary leave, you connect through an almost never-ending conversation.
My boyfriend and I conversed by texts, emails, phone calls, video chats, and believe-it-or-not snail-mail. We’d switch up the way we contacted each other to keep things spicy. It’s always cheerful to receive an unexpected message via an untraditional route.
Getting a letter is truly underrated. When I received one from my boyfriend, I couldn’t help but smile and appreciate the relationship I had with him. And as a bonus, it reduced the monotony of texting all the time, which is low-key bland and can quickly be taken out of context.
When you can’t kiss and makeup, it’s harder to overcome disagreements. By articulating exactly how you feel through effective communication, you both gain a clear understanding of how the other feels.
There are many reasons why communication is so critical in a relationship, especially the lack of it. So talk and talk until your battery runs dead. Then write a letter.
In addition to those deep talks that formed a strong emotional connection with my partner, we’d also have silly ones. I’m pretty sure we spent an hour discussing in-depth what came first, the chicken or the egg.
According to Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey, dramas achieve balance through comic relief. He states:
Unrelieved tension, suspense, and conflict can be emotionally exhausting, and in even the heaviest drama an audience’s interest is revived by moments of laughter.
The same goes for a relationship. You could spend your time being morose talking about how much you miss each other, but quite frankly, that’s exhausting. It takes a toll on your emotions and puts pressure on the relationship.
Or on the other hand, you could make your partner laugh with a few silly maneuvers. A simple laugh can revive your connection.
My boyfriend and I would constantly be sending each other memes, jokes, funny gifs, voice messages, and videos to make the other laugh. We’d even go as far as to embarrass ourselves by sending over horrible song renditions via voice messages and our Friday happy dances via video. Keep in mind neither of us has a talent for singing or dancing.
We are comfortable being silly with each other. This vulnerability forms a bond that strengthens a relationship. And lucky for you, vulnerability can happen in person and also from afar.
TRY NEW HOBBIES
Without your other half, you ultimately have more time to spend on yourself. Take this time to try that thing you’ve wanted to do forever. Start a new hobby!
As much as you would love to do new activities with the one you love, it’s still fun going at it alone. By having the time to try out new hobbies for yourself, you’ll have more to talk about with your partner.
During our time apart, my boyfriend took up coding, and I started to write. We didn’t necessarily understand what the other was doing, but it gave us an area to show our support and enthusiasm for the other. I had no idea what the gibberish code meant but loved hearing my boyfriend talk passionately about his interest in it.
If both of you are developing individually, it will strengthen the confidence you have in yourselves. By being confident in yourself, you can remain true in a relationship.
Not all hobbies have to be done solo in a long-distance relationship. For example, take up cooking together. Set up a video call in the kitchen and then make the same meal at the same time. Cooking via video chat makes for a fantastic date night.
Technology around communication has developed a lot since letter-writing through the mail. There’s now text messaging, email, video chats, and phone conversations. And as stay-at-home orders were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, technology has advanced further.
Since we could no longer see our loved ones in person, companies had to adapt to changing customer preferences. These companies developed many new features for our communication tools this past year, which is excellent for long-distance relationships.
Not only have video calls become more reliable and entertaining (hello cat filters), but the board and card games we love have gone online. My partner and I would play Battleship, Yahtzee, and Scrabble, all digitally.
We also had movie night every Thursday. Many streaming services now offer a watch party option to watch the same movie simultaneously on different screens. The watch party feature can pause and resume the movie for everyone involved. You can even chat and react to a scene for other members to view.
Choose a movie franchise or series to get you through the weeks. I remember telling my boyfriend six weeks before seeing each other that we only had six movie nights to go. The time and distance from him seemed a bit shorter with this in mind.
Seeing the person you are seeing is ideal, but sometimes life takes us away. If you still want to maintain a relationship, try these tips to keep the energy between you two alive.
- Relating to each other through effective communication is essential for the relationship to thrive. Make your significant other giddy by sending a letter through the mail to break up the monotony of texting.
- Don’t be afraid to get silly. Send anything that will make your partner laugh. Relationships don’t have to be all drama. A bit of comic relief will alleviate the pressure and remind you guys you can still have fun.
- Keep trying new things, even if you have to do it solo. The more you do, the more stories you’ll have to tell each other. So get crafting, cooking, or coding!
- Date nights don’t have to end. Technological advancements have helped people connect more efficiently than ever. Play board games online or put a movie on with the help of the watch party feature.
Anne Pennington is an avid writer and freelance marketer with writings on relationships, mental health, and modern philosophy. She outlines her life as a freelancer on the blog Nomad Pursuit. Find her on Twitter.
Previously Published on medium
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