Life Hacks

What no one tells you about long distance relationships

I’m going to be real with you.

This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to partaking in a long distance relationship. In fact, I always seem to find myself in them because I’m an independent woman and I’m all about that career life.

But that doesn’t mean to suggest my ambition somehow exempts me from experiencing the high, highs and the low, lows of love from afar. The struggle is real, and anyone who’s ever entered a LDR knows for a fact that no truer words have ever been spoken.

If you’re a LDR newbie, then let me break down a few home truths for you:

Lesson # 1: People judge you

There’s a misconception that the success of a relationship hinges on 24/7 contact with your SO. Suddenly the ratio of positive to negative comments from outsiders swings in favour of the latter, and it’s like they presume there’s something wrong because why else would you choose to leave your partner?

Because independence and life experience, Susan, that’s why.

Lesson #2: You find out what it really means to miss your SO

The ‘missing’ part of the relationship will go one of two ways: 1) You’ll either miss them terribly at the start, the goodbye is a horrendous ordeal and before you know it you’re in your groove of your single-yet-attached lifestyle and chipper as hell. Or 2) the goodbye is sweet-as and you’re super rational about it. Besides, it’s only a month or two before you’ll see them again anyway. Until the weeks start to pass and you feel your whole soul deplete with every day of absence…

Lesson #3: You NEED to suss your phone plan. Stat.

If you’re the 50 percent that’s left your SO in search of a land of opportunity, chances are you’ve probably left your friends and family behind, too. Ten days into your phone plan renewal and you’re gasping for data, minutes and texts. Suddenly time goes suuuuper slow and you learn what it means to budget your time – and also have every free-wifi zone down pat within a two kilometre radius. Oh, and phone is life. Get a power bank while you’re at it.

Lesson #4: It takes two

This point will blow your socks off. Turns out, in order for your relationship to flourish and not suffer a long-distance demise, it takes two people (mind blown?).  Not one pouring their heart and time into making it work, while the other kind of thinks about it. Two people, equally making an effort to keep communication open plus trust more solid than great Aunty Dot’s Christmas cake.  That isn’t to say there won’t be moments of compromise – “hey babe you know you have to call me this week… I’m low on minutes, remember?” – because life happens and one of you may have a week of late nights lined up or are busy with training for that marathon. Which leads me to point five…

Lesson #5: Keep yourself really busy

It’s hard to miss someone when you’re employee of the month or a social butterfly. Committing to plenty of distractions is the perf solution to reducing those lonely moments where you catch yourself thinking about boo and spiraling into a messy night in, scrolling through your camera roll until ungodly hours of the morning. Or worse, stalking them profusely on the internet. Because you will catch feels, and die. Don’t stalk them on the internet standing up. Don’t stalk them on the internet lying down. Just don’t do it, okay?

Lesson #6: The internet can be kind of a d**k

This one largely applies to people who are dating someone in expansive, socially-active circles. You know the ones – they post rowdy pictures on their nights out, ones of them and their mates getting up to who knows what, then they tag one another in memes that you can read into a million different ways… you get the idea. Whether you’re looking up your SO on purpose or they simply appear in your feed, social media is a one-way ticket to FOMO-town. But, if you’re in a solid relationship and keep communication lines open, this shouldn’t be an issue. You’re across what they’re up to, you keep them informed of what you’re up to… #happydays

Lesson #7: Travel is expenny

“You’re only 2 hours and a $59 grab-a-seat away from me, we’ll be fine“. Aww, bless you and your naivety. Unfortunately, optimism won’t fund your travel expenses here, pet. Try return flights in excess of $300 and/or multiple tanks of fuel and mileage. Oh and the hundreds of dollars you’ll be spending on dining out when you meet in remote locations in the middle.  But hey, you wouldn’t have it any other way and it’s always worth it, right?  Just very, very expensive.

Lesson #8: EVERYTHING triggers a memory

Good luck watching any kind of film, listening to any kind of song or spending time with your loved up friends. You’re going to be kept on a constant loop of missing your SO and all of the things you used to do together and you’ll be feeling single AF. Word of advice: As hard as it is, try not to go on insufferably to the people you live and work with about your SO. Word vomit is a very real and curable disease that affects 99% of victims exposed to LDRs*

(*may or may not be a real statistic.)

Lesson #9: People will question whether or not your SO is real

Induced by word vomit, people begin to wonder if this amazingly perfect person you keep harping on about even exists. You’ll notice an influx of probing “so… when are we going to meet them?” and “hey, when are they coming up to stay?” type questions. A big giveaway is when they start to invite you on single nights’ out or offer to be your wingman. Maybe send yourself some flowers on the DL from your SO? Subtle gestures, that kind of thing.

Lesson #10: Get comfortable with uninspiring chats

Contrary to the quality over quantity belief, there will be late night conversations where both of you will sit there in silence. You’re not always going to have plenty to chat about, and the day-to-day stuff you used to chat about isn’t worth bringing up because (newsflash), you kind of needed to be there. And that’s okay. You’ll spend hours chatting about all sorts of unnecessary shit just to “spend time” with them or hear their voice. And when you do finally see each other and they start to encroach on your reclaimed personal space, you’re going to engage in an awkward dance around not picking fights (because you’re about to jump back on a plane in 24 hours, and why ruin these precious moments?)

Lesson #11: There are more opportunities to get creative

Keeping the spark alive is now on your to-do list. Technically it should be on every kind of relationship’s list, but I digress. Saucy texting, sassy Snapchats, and talking about all kinds of mischief you’re going to get up to when you next lay eyes on one another. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

Lesson #12: If you weren’t a good listener before, you definitely will be now

This is one of the greater lessons learnt in LDR. Your friendship goes from strength to strength because you’re having conversations dedicated to talking to one another. Not in passing as you get the dishes done or the laundry underway. Actual conversations. You learn more about one another for better or for worse, and if you’re meant to be together, you’ll keep each other positive, indulge in a few “I miss you/I miss you more” squabbles, but on the whole, you’re motivating one another to keep at your individual paths that run in parallel with the prospect that they might come together in the future.

Lesson #13: You quickly learn if it’s worth it

They’re not for everyone, I’ll tell you that much for free. But there’s only so much beating around the bush you can do before you confront your underlying issues and/or goals. When you’re with the right person for this stage in your life, it’ll work. If you’re uncertain as to where it’s leading, not sure they’re your forever, or you’re simply charging forth at different paces, you’ll park it. Breaking up is never a finite decision. You can get back together. If you’re needing more commitment from your SO than they’re willing to give, that expectation is more than likely going to assume the role of death sentence in a LDR. Everything happens for a reason and everything works out the way it supposed to, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go with your gut.

Words: Terri Dunn
Photos: Giphy and Getty Images