Thursday, November 09, 2017

6 Ways to Succeed at Long Distance

I've had a few conversations recently where I've had the chance to share some of the wisdom my beloved husband to be and I gathered over the last year and change of our long distance relationship. So, as we draw closer to our wedding day, I thought I'd do the world a favor and share it.

A couple things to know for context. First, Adiel and I live in different countries - Mexico + the US. Second, we've known each other for about 15 years. Third, we are both over 25. And finally,  during our long distance stint, we both had jobs that give us enough income and time off for occasional travel.

1. Set a time limit 

It is really important, for everyone's sanity, to have a sense of when you'll see each other next. Set a maximum time limit that you'll allow for without seeing the other person. For Adiel and I, it was 6 weeks. For us, it worked best to split the tickets. It helped us both with cash flow. And when possible, use miles to lighten the burden.

This way, we knew that when we said goodbye, we already had the next point in time in mind that we'd see each other. And although it wasn't easy, it helped make the goodbyes significantly less emotional.

We also set a time limit for how long we wanted to do this long distance thing. We made it really clear up front that if we hit 6 months and things we weren't on the same page, ready to take the next commitment step, we'd end the relationship. This helped us stay intentional.

2. Don't be on vacation each visit

It can be incredibly tempting, when your love shows up in your space, to plan ALL OF THE THINGS.We realized, after our first visit, that we actually needed some "hang out, eat Chinese and watch Friends" time. We usually found 2 or 3 things to do that were "special" but tried to keep a few days open and available to be flexible. This allowed for important conversations, great dates and even disagreements that make for a healthy relationship.

That said, try also going on vacation together! Go to a place that's not home for either of you. Have a work trip? Extend it a few days and invite him/her to come along. It's a great way to create a level playing field for you both.

3. Be intentional about being in touch 

We had this thing. Every night, we'd talk and every morning, Adiel would send me the "good morning" text. We'd still spontaneously call to say hi, but those set times were really important. It was a way to set us as a priority to one another. This was not always easy. Friends wanted to hang out, there were different events and opportunities to distract from our time, but choosing him meant choosing us. Priorities come to light when the rubber meets the road.

4.  Involve your community 

So I am absolutely not suggesting that you don't spend time alone - it's super critical to do so! But it is also important to not hunker down and spend all of the time by yourselves. Integrating one another into your friend groups, church groups or bocci ball club is an important part of building your life together. They'll also keep you grounded when you get annoyed or frustrated. You need those people to cheer you on and point you in the right direction. Because let's face it, relationships can be hard and when distance is in the mix, it can be even harder.

5. Be honest. 

I know that this holds true in any healthy relationship, but honesty is key for long distance relationships. You have to be willing to communicate the emotions that normally you let people "figure out". We found that saying "I'm feeling weird" or "off" allowed for a conversation that dug deeper. We got to the bottom of the issue, but that first statement helped the other person realize that we needed to focus and take some time to work stuff out. Honesty wins the day. Every time.

6. Be sure about each other

This is more on you than it is on the other person. Take a moment to evaluate if you are actually interested in this person. Being in a relationship is awesome, but being in a relationship for the sake thereof is bogus. Especially when it's long distance and you have to work at it! So, before you jump into the thrill of those long phone calls, smiley face texts and smoochy emojis, really make sure you're ready to open your heart and life to this person.

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