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Loving at a Distance: A Guide to Long-Distance Relationships

Love, indisputably, is one of the most powerful things in the world. Once swept into one’s life, it has the ability to completely alter it in the best way possible—bringing light, laughter and a sense of safety and comfort to surround those experiencing it. It is only natural that once this love has emerged, the sudden physical absence of it can leave one feeling empty inside.

Ah, yes, the dreaded long-distance aspect of many relationships. It is inevitable for countless couples, whether that reason is career opportunities, travel, or in my case, moving away for college.

Before the last summer began, I fell head over heels in love with someone who, fortunately, lived only a short half-hour from my home while I was taking online classes at a local community college. We spent the following five months together, seeing each other every single day without fail. His presence in my life was this piece of me I didn’t realize was missing, and one I would never be able to get enough of. Despite our incandescent happiness, we both could not ignore the simple fact that I was leaving for a school hours away from home sooner than we hoped. Collectively, we made the decision to do whatever we could to make our love last, even if it meant doing long-distance—for nothing was worth more than the love we shared for one another.

Though difficult, long-distance relationships are not impossible. If the love is strong when a couple is physically together, that love will carry through any distance. This being said, both lovers must take the initiative to always put forth their best effort. The question is, how can this effort be shown?

1.) Phonecalls, Texts and VideoCalls

Communication is the most important aspect of any relationship, but especially those that are long-distance. When you aren’t able to go on dates and physically see each other, phonecalls and videocalls are what keeps communication alive. Though both sides of the couple may be busy, effort should be made to at least check-in during the day—even if it’s a simple “How is your day going?” text. Long-distance lovers should leave a part of their day open to make a phonecall or a videocall to let the other person know that they want to connect with them and know how they are doing. Think of one interesting or happy event that took place in your day and wait to tell your partner until you two talk on the phone! This allows a conversation starter immediately if the phonecall can only be for a brief time.

Tip from someone with long-distance experience:

“Focus as much as you can on your goals and what you are working towards, allowing your significant other to do the same. Always make time for phone calls, texts, FaceTime etc., (when you can of course) and know that it will all be worth it in the end when you can be together. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, and your relationship will be stronger for it” – Tara

2.) Virtual Dates

In today’s day and age, technology has made long-distance love and dating far easier than it once was. For myself and my own love, we often use websites such as Teleparty—a way to watch movies and shows with others online by synchronizing video playback and adding a sidebar group chat while you watch. Or if text chats aren’t your style, try a When Harry Met Sally-esque date in which you both tune into a show or movie and talk on the phone as it plays (Casablanca, anyone?). There are countless websites and apps in which two people can play games together online while videocalling as well, if you enjoy a good round of Pictionary or Cup Pong with your partner.

Tip from someone with long-distance experience:

“The main thing I think is important is communicating. Just making sure that if you won’t be near your phone you let them know, and remember it’s okay to still live your life apart from them” – Hallie

3.) “Open When” Letters

“Open When” letters are exactly what they sound like—letters that one partner writes to another to open on various occasions. “Open When You Miss Me,” “Open When You Want to Hear About My Favorite Memories With You,” “Open When You’ve Had a Bad Day”—the list goes on and on. Though these take a lot of time and thought to write, they are entirely worth it to give your love something to look forward to every day or week, depending on how often they need them. When either side of the couple can’t be there for each other, the letters will be and can be read and reread as often as you want. One of the hardest parts of a long-distance relationship is the hopeless feeling the couple gets when they can’t be with their other half physically when they are needed, so these letters will help both individuals feel connected and secure in their relationship.

Tip from someone with long-distance experience:

“I think that each person needs to value each other’s values and aspects within their relationship . . . you have to make time for one another and the effort has to be there for both sides, equally” – Kenzie

4.) Visiting When Able

This one is probably not able to be done as frequently as the others on this list, but nonetheless, it is important in a long-distance relationship. Depending on how far the distance is, meeting up with your love to spend the day with them could be a car ride or a plane ride away. With work and school, planning a trip and finding the time can be next to impossible, but in the end, that one afternoon of time spent together can make the world of difference. If free time becomes available to you or your love and the circumstances allow it, putting forth that effort to see them will show them that their quality time means everything. Visiting each other can vary in importance, though, if one is to consider the differing love languages between two partners. While one side of the relationship may favor quality time and physical touch, the other may be keener on gift-giving or words of affirmation—things that can easily be done without seeing one another in person. This aspect relies entirely on each differing situation every long-distance couple has, but if it is an option, is always a wonderful idea.

Tip from someone with long-distance experience:

“​​Long distance is pretty difficult. Just stay positive and lots of patience is needed. Don’t give in to the people telling you it isn’t worth it, if it is to you then that’s what matters most” – Joline

5.) Sending Gifts or Letters

For those more reliant on love involving gift-giving or words of affirmation, sending letters or gifts could be the right way to go about long-distance love. Sending letters is different from “Open When” letters—which are given to one’s partner all at once—in the way that they can be sent for any reason at all or no reason at all. Opening a letter is far more enjoyable than receiving a text message, purely for the unexpected excitement one gets when they see a letter sitting in the mailbox. Write about your day! Write about how much you love them! Write about a movie you watched and loved! Pictures or little notes can be included in each letter, too, explaining to the recipient all of the things that have been happening lately and keeping them involved. Gifts can also be sent through the mail, ranging in size or price. For all the hopeless romantics like myself, flowers are a surefire way into your lover’s heart. For others, little items (such as a favorite snack, beauty products, etc.) can be sent as a simple I’m thinking of you! kind of way.

Tip from someone with long-distance experience:

“You have to have enough love to stretch across the distance. Make sure communication is the number one priority! If you let something small slide under the rug, chances are that the distance itself will allow it to fester into a bigger issue. You have to talk about everything!” – Katherine

6.) Reassurance

Reassurance, in any relationship, is one of the most important aspects. For long-distance couples especially, reminding your partner of how much you love them and what the relationship means to you can be all they need to feel more secure and relieved as the distance becomes too much to bear. A simple “we’re going to be okay” or an “I can’t wait for our future together” can aid in fixing any feelings of uncertainty. It is completely normal to have feelings of insecurity surrounding a relationship where you aren’t able to see or talk to them as often as you were, but with a little extra attention and reassurance from your partner, these feelings are replaced with ones of comfort and stability. Remember that everyone, now and again, needs reassurance, even if they don’t directly ask for it. It is always a pleasure to feel wanted.

No matter the distance between two lovers or the circumstances which caused it, if effort is put forth and the love is true, it will prevail. Above all, it’s important to remember to never lose hope on something that makes your life beautiful—for in the end, a lifetime of happiness awaits, and that alone is worth fighting for.

Studying to be an English teacher at SUNY Geneseo, Taylor is a romantic at heart with a love for the arts, vintage fashion, reading, and writing poetry. ♡ Follow her on Instagram: @tay.bramhall
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