That LDR life is hard. Really hard. But there are a lot of amazing things that come out of it – both for the individuals involved and the relationship itself.
This one seems obvious, but in my case, I was already pretty independent before I got into an LDR. As a traveller, I do the human things solo pretty damn well, if I may say so myself. I knew how to find an apartment, what to do when I wound up at the wrong airport, how to find a community in a new place, and how to budget when grocery shopping. Independence was my strong suit. But there are other things I don’t think I would have learned without doing this long distance thing. For one, especially if you’re in different time zones, that attention that’s often on-hand when you share a town or city isn’t always there. You learn how to emotionally support yourself and where to find it outside of your romantic relationships if you just haven’t connected in a few days. That’s harder when your partner is just down the street and an “easy fix” for blue days.
2. Body Stuff
Male, female, or non-binary, there are body expectations (set by society, those jerks in high school hallways, our parents, etc.) that are placed on all genders and those get blown up when you’re in a relationship – long distance or not. You can find inner peace with your body regardless of relationship status, but being in a long distance relationship and video chatting or sending silly snaps makes you look at your body differently. Even if you were a Selfie Expert before the LDR, having someone you’re romantically invested in on the other end of both serious/flirty pics and ugly face competitions is just damn healing. It’s one thing to be comfortable sending those gross morning shots to friends and another to be aware that the only time your partner sees you is through a screen – and then getting over it.
You’re not there. The sooner you come to terms with that, the healthier your headspace is going to be. Your partner(s) are going to fill up their days with other people – as are you! There’s something pretty dope about realizing that no matter what your ‘terms of agreement’ are – monogamous, polyamorous, open, the list goes on – if you’re still in the relationship, clearly the people involved are still priorities to each other. “Cheating” becomes a fuzzy gray line of emotional/physical/romantic/platonic and, honestly, now that you only get texts and occasionally video, you gain a massive communication advantage over traditional relationships. If a new name is dropped during conversation, after being in it long enough, that pang of jealousy gives way to genuine curiosity. Relationships outside of your little LDR bubble not only will exist, but should. It’s important.
LDRs eventually become Rs. I think. So I’ve been told. And a pretty typical coping mechanism is planning the next move. But in doing that, the best advice I can give you (please, grain of salt here), is to stay present. Do the countdown thing if you need to. Talk about what you’re excited to do together when you finally touch down in the same place. But soak up every experience you get while you’re away from each other. Because eventually either you’ll move or your partner(s) will, and even if you’re the person staying in the same place, life is going to look a little different once you drop the LD.
So have another beer with that colleague/friend/random; go to that gig by yourself; and forego the bus to walk that scenic route home. Enjoy your gif wars, but, ffs, be present. We live in a time and space where we can live 15,000 miles away, keep in touch, and lead our own pretty independent lives. So do that.