Here I’d like to share with you my personal experience of being in a long distance relationship (LDR). Life right now is a little crazy – I’m in a development program with my company that has placed me for 6 months of training in North Carolina and now for 6 months in Colorado, and during this time my boyfriend, Anthony, has been in Air Force pilot training. He started out in Alabama for Officer Training School and now he’s in Mississippi for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).
We have been keeping to a routine of visiting each other at least twice a month, but now that he started UPT and I’m in Colorado, we will most likely only be able to see each other once a month... if that. What keeps us going is knowing that eventually both of our trainings will be complete and we’ll be able to continue with our careers together in the same place! As for our present situation, we face the everyday struggles of being in an LDR.
So here I will explain the highs and lows of my long distance relationship as told by everyday clichés. It’s always better to end on a positive note, so I will start with the lows.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
There are many reasons why I love social media – however, something I strongly dislike is social media’s ability to cause me to unknowingly compare myself to others as I scroll through my feed. For me, it’s usually in regard to my LDR, especially when I’m missing my other half. Seeing other people’s relationships displayed on social media sometimes gets me feeling pretty low. It is a blunt reminder that while other people are getting to spend plenty of time with their significant other – going to brunch, hanging out with family and friends, running errands, celebrating birthdays and engagements, etc. – I’m waiting patiently and counting down until the next time I see mine – which will most likely be short-lived and then back to another countdown.
It’s not just through social media that this happens – it can be something as little as walking through the grocery store and seeing a seemingly happy couple picking up their groceries. I can’t help but assume that they’re probably going to head home, make dinner together and cuddle up on the couch with a movie. But that’s the problem with comparing yourself to others and thinking that you know exactly what is going in their life, assuming that they must have it better than you – it’s just an assumption. Not only is it foolishly jumping to a conclusion, it is robbing me of happiness. It’s in these moments that I must remind myself to not compare myself to what others seem to be, and to be happy for others without feeling jealous. It sounds so obvious and simple – yet it can be a difficult task, and with that, comparison can really be the thief of joy.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
One of the biggest lows of an LDR is loneliness - and not the loneliness of “wow I’m so bored and I feel lonely because I have nothing to do,” the loneliness of feeling isolated. As much as Anthony & I strive to facetime every night, there are some days or weeks where our schedules just don’t mesh - especially when there’s a time difference. There have been times when something exciting happened at work and I wanted to tell him so badly, but I knew he was napping or studying so I couldn’t call. Of course, I can still call my mom or sister, but it’s not the same as sharing it with my person. Even worse, by the time I have a chance to tell him the thrill has begun to wear off. In this case, staying connected in our day to day can be hard, but not keeping each other up-to-date and informed, only makes the isolation worse.
Another hurdle is social circles and family. Most people have the luxury of spending time as a couple with friends and family, but for Anthony and I, since we have so much time apart and live in different states, we often spend time with friends and family separately. Luckily we’ve been dating since high school so we already are familiar with one another’s family & friends, but I can imagine for other couples in an LDR it must be even harder to feel connected. There have been several family trips and events with friends that I wished Anthony could have been there, but I had to enjoy it without him. The feeling of him not being there is unsettling - so much so that he must remind me that if he could be there, he would. For me it tends to be worse in the reverse situation - when he is at a family event or getting together with friends and I’m wishing I could be there with him. It’s tough to be living what feels like separate lives, but like anything in life, there are ways to overcome it. Despite the fact that in the moment it really sucks, at the end of the day, it’s all about keeping positive and remembering that what doesn’t kill me will make me even stronger.
We hear it all the time of how important it is to make time for yourself and to love yourself. The whole idea of loving yourself is loving the you for you – you without your other half. The best relationships, in my opinion, are built on maintaining a healthy balance of time spent together and “me-time.” Your other half should compliment your happiness, not be your happiness entirely. One major perk of being in an LDR is that I rarely have to compromise “me-time.” Despite the fact that Anthony & I Facetime nearly every night, I still have plenty of time to focus on personal needs – like putting in more time at work, hitting the gym, eating healthy, spending time on personal hobbies (like blogging!) or hanging out with friends. I realize that even without being in an LDR this is very attainable, but of course, not physically being able to see each other makes it a lot easier to avoid falling into bad habits of over-prioritizing “babe-time”.
I’ve seen it so many times, even Anthony and I back in high school or early college, where we were spending so much time together that we stupidly forgot to make time to tend to personal goals and needs. It was so much easier to skip the gym and go eat Chipotle together…sure it’s fine every once in awhile, but not when this becomes a weekly trend.
In the end, as much as time away from Anthony is tough and at times I’m envious of those who get to even toy with the idea of falling into 24/7-attached-at-the-hip kind of relationship, I appreciate that I can easily make time for myself, and to love myself. Plus I don’t mind taking a little extra advantage of my selfish 20s.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
You’ve probably heard this cliché about a thousand times – but with all honesty, it is so true. As much as countdowns can really suck, there is nothing more exciting than getting down to single digits and knowing that I get to see Anthony in just a few days! Having countdowns gives us both something to look forward to which is really important for keeping us positive even when we’re missing the heck out of each other. We’ve been counting down since Dec 28 to see each other on Feb 16 - that’s 50 days, and today Anthony texted me “only 2 more days til I see you!” The thrill of 50 days turning into just 2 more days makes it all feel worth it - we’re down to the home stretch! There is also nothing quite like the butterflies and flip in my stomach when I get to see him for the first time after we’ve been apart – it’s like we’re falling in love all over again! This time together is extra special and the time in between makes us appreciate the present even more. People probably roll their eyes when we’re laughing til we’re crying at an inside joke or overly enthusiastic over mundane tasks, but for us, this is a fleeting moment that we’re together and nothing else matters - making all of the time in between well worth the wait.
So there you have it, the highs and lows of my long distance relationship. If you are in an LDR and can relate, or if you’re thinking about an LDR and wondering if you can handle it, remember that it’s all about a positive mindset. As much at it feels like it, you are not alone. Focus on things to look forward to – the light at the end of the tunnel. No one ever said it would be easy, but they did say it’d be worth it.
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