A word on long distance relationships:
J and I met in high school. We “went out” our senior year of high school, and when college decisions rolled around, he looked at Mercer with me and I looked at FSU with him. Eventually, though, we realized our hearts were calling us to different places. I wanted a small, pretty campus and a Great Books program; he wanted a good computer science program and had no interest in the Binary Bears.
But I don’t remember ever seriously considering not attempting long distance. We already meant too much to each other. We made the hard choice to spend four years almost 200 miles apart.*
Lately, I’ve been talking to a couple of friends in long distance relationships, and here are some of my best hard-won pieces of advice:
- Don’t see each other every weekend, or you’ll be so terribly homesick that you’ll a.) break up out of misery or b.) give up on whatever good thing made you choose to be long distance in the first place (and you might end up resenting the person for that).
- Do come up with things to do on the phone (or Skype, or whatever) that aren’t just talking for hours. When in real life would you do nothing but flop on the couch and chatter for hours on end? Play online Scrabble. Read a book aloud you love. Watch a movie “together” a la When Harry Met Sally. Don’t feel bad that you’ve run out of things to say for the moment.
- Don’t force your time together to make up for time apart. It can’t, and if you’re exhausted at the end of your visit, you’ll be much more miserable about the whole relationship. Take it easy, get out and around, and meet each other’s friends, if you haven’t already. Try to treat it like normal time together, not a frantic reunion.
- Do realize, though, that at some point you’ll need to make the leap to be together in the same place. It might involve sacrifices, but you should want it badly. We had a built in countdown until college graduation, which helped. I have known couples, even married couples, content to live apart indefinitely. I know everyone’s relationship is different, but I think long distance should be hard. If it’s not, it might be time to reexamine the relationship.
So, readers, what advice would you add?
*But boy, when those four years were up, my degree in hand, we were married in a fortnight.