We are in middle of a great big summer of love and Pride here at Ditch the Label, and as part of the celebrations, we’ve teamed up with one of our favourite Instagram couples @glossnoodles, who have brought you their list of ways to survive long-distance love.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about long distance: the cheating, the lying, the overall crappiness of the situation, I could go on. Sure, sometimes those things do happen, but they happen in relationships where people see one another every day, too, and it’s important to remember that. Long distance is hard work, that much is true, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Harriet and I met on Tumblr in the summer of 2016 and we instantly hit it off. The only catch? There was 5000 miles between us – she lived in England; I was in Texas. We talked for a few months and our mutual feelings developed into an online relationship.
Whilst things were pretty easygoing during our ‘honeymoon’ period, much of our 1.5 years apart was, in all honesty, like living in the tenth circle of hell. Tears and tempers began to rock the boat and fill our hearts with fear that things weren’t going to work but, somehow, we simply knew that we had to stick together. And we did.
Since we finally broke the distance in December of 2018, we’ve spent hours reflecting on how things went and how we could have done it better. Now, we want to help others who might be in a similar situation, so we’ve come up with a few quick tips to bear in mind if you’re far away from the one you love.
There’s nothing more important than this one, in our eyes. Whilst it can be hard to talk about feelings, especially those that are negative, it’s crucial! Letting the bad shit simmer away in the back of your mind may seem like the right choice in the moment – especially if you don’t like confrontation – but the likelihood is that bad shit will eventually bubble over and lead to some even worse shit. In our experience, that meant arguments and feelings getting hurt a lot more than they would have if we’d spoken about things calmly as they arose.
Work through tough feelings like jealousy, insecurity or whatever else might be upsetting you or your significant other is riddled with difficulties. Over distance especially, these things can become amplified. Looking back, we wish that we’d both thought more before we spoke sometimes – sensitivity towards the other party is just as important as speaking your mind.
2) Plan Date Nights
Having date nights were a godsend. When schedules get really busy, setting aside at least one night each week to FaceTime or Skype and do something together can really break up the time.
Being so far away, we were limited on what we could do. Still, a few of our favourite ideas we’d like to pass on are things like: watching a film or television show over a screen-sharing platform (like rabb.it), playing online games, eating a meal together (I’d eat lunch as Harriet ate dinner!), drawing or just sitting and chatting with each other!
3) Avoid Excessive Texting
This may seem counterintuitive, but try to avoid texting for the sake of texting.
We hit a point in our long distance where once we knew what the other was doing that day, it was hard to just spark conversation over text; we found that trying to create conversation could lead to feelings of awkwardness or uneasiness because we felt disjointed, which almost always led to negative feelings within ourselves.
So, if you find yourself struggling over text, just take a bit of time – even 30-45 minutes – and come back and check in later on. Taking a break can feel uncomfortable sometimes, especially if attachment issues are something that either one or both of you feel, but that only makes learning to not talk for the sake of it even more important.
4) If Possible, Plan Visits
Depending on the distance, money and your personal situations this one can be more difficult for some couples than others. But, if you can, planning visits far in advance can be helpful in the sense that it gives you something to look forward to and focus on. A common goal, if you like.
When we were apart, there was nothing better than planning all the things we were going to do when we were next together – where we’d be going, gifts we were going to give each other and other cute stuff like that!
5) Try Not to Go to Bed Angry
Maybe arguments won’t happen. At the same time, maybe they will. If something does come up, though, it might seem easier to just ignore one another all day and go to bed with it still festering. However, doing that might mean that the problem is still there in the morning, and nobody wants to wake up to that.
For us, there were plenty of nights where we were apart, exhausted and just feeling upset at the distance, but we tried to talk to it out before giving up on the day. It doesn’t work like that for everybody, we’re sure, but it definitely worked for us.
6) Avoid Certain Situations
Distance eventually had us feeling not good enough for one another. We were jealous that we rarely got to spend proper time together like others did with us, and we ended up harboring large amounts of FOMO. We were full of unhealthy feelings that made us feel gross.
After a while, we agreed that when one of us would go on a night out or big weekend away with friends, we wouldn’t bombard the other with loads of pictures, videos, Snapchats, etc. We’re still not sure if this is petty or not, but neither of us meant to have those negative feelings, and we found that setting boundaries actually did help.
7) Focus on Yourself
Finally, if you do find yourself feeling left out, jealous, lonely, upset or emotionally distant from your significant other, try your best to focus on what you can do to help yourself. It can be easy to spiral into a pit of despair (we’ve both spent hours sat in those), so putting your mental wellbeing first is really key if you’re in a situation that involves somebody else so closely.
We would turn to painting, drawing, listening to music, doing yoga, going for a walk, playing with our puppies or watching films. Even talking to somebody can help – don’t underestimate the power of talking, whether it’s about your struggles or about something totally random.
Whilst those things didn’t fix our situation or cure the horrible feelings, it did sometimes help us to zone out a little bit and pass our time in a healthy way.
Inevitably, long distance can be hard. There can be down days and negative feelings, but it is possible. It’s not how we’d have chosen to do things, but it’s how our relationship played out. The important thing is that we made it through and that, actually, it made us so much stronger as a couple. We learnt so much about ourselves and each other from being apart, and we don’t think we’d have that level of mutual understanding otherwise. Distance is a bitch, but in some ways, we’ve got to thank it.
For more from Harriet and Alyssa, make sure you follow their Instagram @glossnoodles
If you are struggling with a long distance relationship, or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.