2020 was definitely a hard year for all of us. There’s no doubt about it. It’s like you were being forced to adapt fast and sit still…waiting. Waiting until it gets better, but at this point, we all know the world needs a little longer to resume to where it was.
This struggle clearly also applies to the dating world, especially the long-distance couples I’m also included in. Not knowing when Canada will open the border again for us, people from Southeast Asia, has made me and my partner feel worried.
There’s literally no chance for people outside Canada to apply for a visitor visa right now with everything’s going on. I regret not renewing my visa earlier before the pandemic hit. But here we are. We are stuck, not knowing when we will see each other again. Maybe in a year? Two years? Who knows.
However, earlier this year, I decided to do something about my anxiety — whatever it is that will make me stop wallowing in sadness and misery. Crying every day while sitting there and waiting for things to get better won’t change a thing. This, instead, has put me in a situation where I almost ruined the relationship because I was too invested in the future.
So here it is, 5 main things I’ve done to save my long-distance relationship and keep it going:
1. Bring the Focus Back into Yourself
The fact that you can’t control external situations but always can control your own emotion and what you want to do with them can’t be taken for granted. I have to admit that I overlook this a lot.
Putting too much focus on your relationship isn’t ideal, plus you’ll have more stress that way because you are trying to control the situation to be how you wanted it to be, which we know doesn’t happen in most cases that way. So let it go and focus on yourself instead.
Whenever you find yourself thinking about your relationship and constantly talking about it with your partner, force your mind to stop. Get out of it and redirect your energy into something else instead, be it your hobby or new projects at work that you are excited to do.
2. When There’s an Argument, Hit the Pause Button
Nothing is more annoying than going to sleep angry because there’s an argument happening between you and your partner. Trust me, I’ve been there too many times. Until I decided to take a different approach when it happens.
One thing that helped our relationship a lot, whether in person or not, is to hit “pause” when we disagree. Yes, some arguments can be solved in an hour or two, but the others might take a long time, especially when related to serious topics.
Couples in a long-distance don’t have that much privilege to solve the problem right away; for example, in my case, we are separated by a 14hrs timezone difference. If we keep forcing ourselves to talk about the problem nonstop, not only won’t we fix the issue, but we’ll get burned out.
This is where most long-distance couples quit because communication is way too hard to handle. So when you have ongoing arguments where you feel like it needs further discussion, ask your partner to hit the “pause” button and take time to calm the mind first.
I assure you, the next time you jump in a call, the result of the conversation will be so much better, and you and your partner will reconcile sooner than later.
3. Create a Backup Plan Together
While most couples don’t agree with this point, I’d say having a backup plan helps you relax more in thinking about the future.
Being together for long-distance couples is, of course, the ultimate goal. But imagine if you both are way too focus on closing the gap as soon as possible and neglecting the present life you have, that wouldn’t be nice. Not mentioning when that one plan doesn’t work out. The stress will definitely add up.
I started applying this tip in creating a backup plan together since the pandemic has started. As we don’t know when the border will open again, we decided to go ahead and plan other things to move to Canada by the end of the year that won’t happen.
Not only we’ll have more hopes for our future, my partner and I also feel more relaxed and flexible. We are confident there’s always a way, but at the same time, we know we can’t solely depend on one plan.
4. Leave Some Space for Alone Time
“We are already miles away. Why would we need a break?” you asked.
I used to think this way, and it just didn’t make sense to have some “alone” time knowing we aren’t in the same place with our partner. However, life is already overwhelming enough because of this pandemic.
I couldn’t go anywhere as of right now as our city is under lockdown, and I’m not sure until when as the government keeps extending it. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but if I keep talking to my long-distance partner day in day out over a video call, I’m damn sure I’ll feel overwhelmed.
We all need some space to take a breath. Space where we can just be with ourselves and do our own hobbies. However, this can be tricky, especially when your partner doesn’t understand yet.
I’ve seen people feel bad to ask for a break — not necessarily long but maybe a day or two to enjoy their alone time. They think they are far away already, and the only way to keep the relationship going is by talking over the phone for hours every single day.
At some point, you’ll run out of words to say and end up putting your relationship on a pedestal by talking about the same thing over and over again. It gets stale, and no one likes that feeling.
Most long-distance couples underestimate this activity of making space to help the relationship grow. I used to think taking days off from communicating intensely for a day or two won’t make any difference, but I was wrong. It does have some good and positive effects. The relationship feels fresh again, and our connection gets deeper because we’ve missed each other.
5. Don’t Compare Your Relationship with Others.
Oh, here comes the biggest elephant in the room…
In this era where social media is around from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, you might think it’s impossible to go days without comparing your relationship with others. But let me tell you, you can.
You can be fully secure with your own relationship and not worrying a damn thing about how that one girl on Instagram said she and her boyfriend never had a fight.
The truth is, no one is perfect. You do know it’s just plain nonsense to think that couples don’t fight. Maybe not as many times as you in a month, but still, there will be disagreements in some conversations.
I used to feel guilty when I think back on those times where I sabotaged my own relationship by comparing mine with others. A long-distance relationship is hard already, but you know what’s harder? Putting ourselves in a situation where we lack self-control and eventually drive our partner crazy with our unrealistic expectations.
So when you see couples who seem to be doing better, happier, productive — whatever you call it.
The Bottom Line:
If you’ve been thinking to call it to quit, you are definitely not alone. I’ve had friends who have a long-distance relationship and admit it’s harder to keep the communication going during the pandemic.
Mainly because you don’t know when you will be able to meet each other again, which can be frustrating. It affects the daily communication between you and your partner.
As someone who’s been in one for too long now, I’ve finally found a way to reduce the stress and anxiety that this long-distance relationship has caused during pandemics.
Every relationship is hard. It takes so much work to have stable and healthy communication. I never believed there’s any perfect relationship that doesn’t require any work. Especially when you are in a long-distance, it takes twice harder to make it work.
However, using those tips above has helped me move to our goal closer without feeling burn out or overwhelmed in the journey.
Previously published on medium
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