How We Made Long Distance Dating Work
Love is not always easy to find, and to be honest, you never really know WHERE you are going to find it. When Dan and I met, we were both 20 years old. I was a sophomore and Dan was a junior, and we both were students at the University of Arizona. Our paths never crossed until spring break in Lake Havasu, Arizona. Yup, spring break (photo below for proof)!! I was not looking to find someone to date on spring date (like most people). I wanted to party, spend time with friends and just have fun.
Spring Break 2014 (when we first met)
At the end of that spring break trip, Dan asked for my number and the following week we began to hang out and started dating shortly after. Since then, we have dated in long distance relationships 3 out of the 6 years of being together (not consecutively). We dated while living on opposite sides of the country, different time zones, different lifestyles, different friend groups but finally ended up together in New York City permanently (yay)!
Last night, we sat down at dinner and talked about the last (almost) 6 years together, and how the heck we made it work. If you are deciding or about to start a long distance relationship, or struggling in a long distance relationship right now, here are our tips of how Dan and I made our long distance relationship work.
Discuss lifestyle goals in the future
When Dan and I started to talk about the possibility of doing a long distance relationship, we had to both understand if we wanted similar things in life. Dan was graduating, and I was going to begin my senior year in Arizona. I remember asking Dan where he wanted to move when he graduated and he said NYC. Ironically, NYC was my dream city to move to when I graduated. It felt like fate. We both loved the East Coast and wanted to stay there long term. The best part was that we didn't have to convince the other person to move to a city one of us wanted. We didn't need to change for the other person. Ironically, we both wanted similar paths.
Being clear and transparent about what you both want in the long run is an important discussion to have with yourself, and with your partner. What kind of lifestyle do you want? Where do you want to move when you graduate from college? City or suburbs? Where do you want to live long-term? Do you see yourself with your partner in this picture?
FaceTime helped us. A lot. With FaceTime, you're able to see the other person's facial expressions and reactions faster than talking on a phone call. Dan and I Facetimed...a lot. We would wake up and FaceTime, random Facetimes in the middle of the day to tell funny jokes or see what the other was up to, and before going to bed to say goodnight. My friends always made jokes about how much we Facetime, but it allowed us to be part of each others lives with only one click away. It became part of a routine to share moments together (even as simple as "hey look what I got for dinner!).
This is something that is harder to give advice on because I have always trusted Dan. We are really good at communicating if something is bothering us. We are very direct people. No sugar coating.
I will say, if I didn't trust Dan before starting a long distance relationship, I wouldn't of done it. There were definitely times when I would hear about him going out with people and girls hitting on him, but he was always transparent with me when it happened and I never felt like he was ever hiding something from me.
Find ways to bond when you aren't physically together
Do you both love working out? Sign up for a half marathon and both train for it. Have a Netflix account? Start a new TV series together! There is SO MUCH talking on the phone you can do before you run out of things to talk about, so find new ways! Dan and I started watching a few TV series together and it made it fun catching up with each other to see how the other person felt.
Be willing to visit each other
This one may be financially tricky, but important. You both need to be willing to travel to the other person. It shouldn't be one person always visiting the other. It's financially expensive and both partners should treat each other equal. When Dan and I were living on different coasts, we tried to see each other once a month. It was financially difficult, but it was an investment in each other to make the relationship work. Once we were living a few states apart, we tried to see each other every other weekend, or a few times a month. Again, it was tough, but an investment to make the relationship work. Plus, we racked up a good amount of Amtrak points, ha.
Prioritize attending special events and milestones
Back in college, Dan always made an effort to come visit when I had a sorority event and it meant the WORLD to me to bring him as my date to date dashes and formals. We also both made sure we could attend each others graduations, work events and holiday celebrations with friends. We both always made an effort to be at each others Friendsgiving, Santacon, etc. These moments were important for us to be part of for each other.
Treat your relationship as if you aren't in a long distance relationship
This is something I am personally big on. It's easy to make fancy plans when you're visiting each other in a new city, such as doing touristy things, fancy dinners, etc. You want to make the most out of each others visit! We started doing this in the beginning, but it was expensive and didn't really feel like an honest relationship. After a few of these visits, Dan and I tried to incorporate "normal" things to do, and no set itineraries. We spent the time together as if we both lived in the same city. It was a great way to test the relationship beyond the "honeymoon stage" and see how we worked together as a couple. A lot of the things we did when visiting each other in a long distance relationship are things we still do together today: run errands, relaxing & watching TV together, hanging with family and friends, date nights at our favorite spots, etc.
Hope these tips help you in your relationship! If you have tips on how you made your long distance relationship work, let me know in the comments below!