By Katie / Featured / Home / Relationships

{How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship}

Many of you know that during our almost 3 years of dating, Stephen and I have been long distance for all but about 5 months this year, and 4 months last summer. I am so thankful that he was able to move to Ocean City in January, but the difficulties of a long distance relationship are still fresh in my mind. I wanted to offer a few suggestions for those of you who are currently in an LDR, or who are preparing for one that may be in the near future. A few things that really helped us navigate through our time spent apart were:

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1. Creative Dates

The above photo was taken unbeknownst to Steve during one of our early Skype dates. When Stephen and I were in an LDR, “Skype Date” and “Phone Date” became part of our general vocabulary. In my days before an iPhone, I had THE WORST flip phone with THE MOST ANNOYING Joss Stone Ringtone. It was so bad that everyone who was part of that time in my life refers to it as “The Tell Me ‘Bout It Phone”. Look up the song. You would want to smash your phone to pieces if it played this song on repeat as well. And it never seemed to fully charge when I needed it. I also had a Dell computer that was awesome, save for the fact that something was wrong with the audio, and any Skype session led to me sounding like those annoying Chipmunk Christmas songs. I am thankful to have lived with a few girls who had Mac computers, and who were kind enough to let me use them to Skype. Steve would ask me on a Skype Date or a Phone Date, and we would conduct these as if we were in person. Sometimes on Skype dates we would prepare meals (even if that meant me running out for coffee because it was an hour earlier in Nashville), and eat together during our dates. We made up questions, jotted down topics we wanted to discuss, etc. It definitely isn’t the same as being in person, but it gave us something to look forward to. One of our favorite creative dates that we started after saving our change up for 2011 trip to Madrid is:

The Date Night Jar: We save all of our change, and once it’s filled we cash it in and use it for a fun night on the town. This photo was taken last year, but we recently cashed this jar in and it came to $188. Pretty sweet date night.

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2. Setting Goals

I will never forget our first date as a couple. We went to Maggiano’s in Nashville. I was wearing a black dress with a cream colored lace shirt, and strappy black sandals. I straightened my hair (only to have it rain), and the live musician was playing and singing, “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet”, by Michael Buble. What I remember most is that it was the first time we made a SteveKat bucket list. SteveKat is the combo name I insisted we create (inspired as I was by Speidi).  We wrote down ten different goals, and it gave us some direction about what we wanted to do together as a couple. We still make seasonal bucket lists to this day, and it has really helped us to try new things, and have new experiences together. I still have our first list, signed and written on the back of a Maggiano’s napkin. Super classy.

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3.Text, Email, Social Media, AND LETTERS

We are definitely fortunate to live in a time with such advanced technology, and means of communication. We utilized email, Facebook, text messaging, and all other ways that we could communicate when we weren’t able to be in the same place. I really looked forward to those messages, and also all the ridiculous links we shared via Facebook. The thing I loved most though, was receiving a hand-written letter in the mail. I will never forget coming back from my Honduras Mission Trip to find a long letter and Mix CD from Stephen waiting for me. We continued to write letters throughout our relationship in addition to all our other communication, and it was always a nice surprise to get something tangible in the mail. There is just a different feeling associated with getting some snail mail that, for me, will never be replaced by the convenience of email.

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4. Prayer

I think that one of the most important aspects of our time apart was the importance we placed on praying together, and for one another. We started a habit of saying a prayer every time we ended a phone convo or skype date (since these usually happened at night), and it is something that we continue to do each time we end our day together. I spent a lot of time in prayer, asking God to bless our relationship, to keep us strong, to lead us on the path He had planned, and to help us discern whether we were the people He had planned for one another. It also helped for me to pray individually, especially during times when I felt that the distance aspect was never-ending (which was often).

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5. Communication

There is no greater silence than the awkward phone silence. You know the one. He just said something that made you mad, you are refusing to acknowledge that it did, but you have definitely turned on your Biotch face, and furthermore you are going to make him work to figure out what the H is the matter with you. Stop right there. If ever there is a need for solid communication, it is when you are part of an LDR. It is so critical in any relationship, but especially one where your main lines of communication are devoid of body language. It is then, more than ever, you need to be able to communicate how you are feeling (good or bad), and actively work to get through breakdowns in communication. It is definitely a learning process, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t perfect in this area. If you are honest about the ways you are feeling, and you are making an effort to deal with situations as they arise (not 12 hours later after you have bottled it up and he has forgotten), then you are on the right track. In my own experience, it usually takes Steve asking me what’s wrong a few times before I can actually figure out what I want to say, and how I want to say it.

{Me? Not sure how to talk about my feelings? Shocking, I know.}

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6. A Sense of Humor

Last, but absolutely not least, one of the main things that has been essential in our relationship is being able to laugh together. It helps to not take yourself too seriously, and I am so glad that Stephen and I have a similar sense of humor. Full disclosure: I have NO IDEA what I was thinking, or why I would think this was funny, but at the end of our first date I put on a poker face and I said (with much trepidation) that I had something to tell him. I then proceeded to say that I had a child. I most certainly do not have a child. I watched his face drain of color (at least he was honest), I waited a beat, and then I burst out laughing. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so relieved in my life. Thankfully, he started laughing too, and I knew in that moment that if he could laugh at my psychotic idea of humor we would get along just fine.

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I wouldn’t wish long distance on anyone, but I am so thankful for the relationship that Stephen and I have. It is something special, it is worth waiting for, and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I hope everyone finds their Stephen.

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9 thoughts on “{How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship}

  1. Pingback: Long distance relationship digital tools | Richysheart

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