It can be tough to be young and in love, especially when you’re trying to also start a career. This often means long distance for couples like my husband and I.
We’re currently going through it. I just moved to North Carolina for a job in Gastonia while he is still in Pennsylvania until the end of April. All-in-all, it’s one month apart, but it’s still tough to deal with. It’s not the first time we’ve done long distance either. We had a similar arrangement when I moved from Rochester to York, Pennsylvania after graduating college. He stayed behind in New York for a bit. Before that, we spent three months apart one summer while I interned in Atlanta.
Overall we’ve been lucky. In the nearly five years we’ve been together we haven’t had to spend too much time apart compared to other couples, like my good friends Alena and Nick. They were married two years ago this summer, but throughout college they spent a majority of their relationship apart.
Over their dating timeline, they spent six months apart two separate times. The first time Alena moved out of state for an internship for six months. After she returned, Nick moved to Alabama to attend graduate school while Alena finished her undergraduate in New York for six months. She moved down after graduation.
Alena and I both agree that it’s tough to be apart from your significant other. You miss them a lot and you can’t do normal couple things. Date nights are harder and typically involve skyping while you both watch the same movie or cook dinner at the same time. There’s no one to hug you when you’re having a rough day or just sit and talk with you.
Some days you’re just off. I’m always reminded of The Office scene while Pam is in New York City studying art and Jim is in Pennsylvania still. One day they just can’t seem to fit their schedule together to talk. This happens with my husband and I more often that not between our opposite work schedules.
It’s especially hard if you’re in an area where you don’t know anyone. Alena experienced this while she was at her internship and I experienced it while I interned as well. While your significant other is hanging out with friends or able to keep busy after their work day is done, you can end up sitting home, stewing about the fact that you’re apart.
It can cause you to fight more often too. Being apart is the ultimate test on a couple’s communication skills, and any breakdown of communication can lead to a fight that typically wouldn’t happen while you are physically together.
I would say communication is the number one key to surviving long distance. If you can’t effectively communicate while you’re apart, chances are you aren’t truly communicating when you’re together. I know a lot of people who say long distance never works but it can, if you can be honest and open with your loved one.
I think Alena said it best: “It really was important that Nick and I have open lines of communication with each other to keep our distance just to the physical, not emotional parts,” she said.
If you can make it through a bout of long distance, it will make your relationship stronger in the long run. My husband and I are great when it comes to communicating (in my opinion), and a lot of that came after we spent those three months apart.
The experience will also make you more independent. From the moment my husband and I started dating we spent nearly every waking second together – not necessarily because we’re overly dependent on each other, but because we’re best friends. No matter what we do, it’s more fun when we’re together.
But that type of relationship can make being alone ten times more difficult. Spending those three months apart makes this month apart slightly easier because, as much as I hate it, I know how to get by without him. Alena echoed these sentiments.
For those in a relationship going through something similar or about to go through something like this, I would advise you to set up open lines of communication from the get go. It will probably need to be adjusted as you go but it will give you a good base.
Also, try to keep busy. Meet new people if you’re the person in the new area through local Facebook groups or work. Hang out with family or take up a hobby. Staying busy will help keep your mind off the fact that you’re lonely. Getting a roommate as opposed to living alone can also help.
Long distance is hard, especially when you’re starting a new career or moving to a new area, but if you want to make it work you will.