My partner and I spent the first several months of our time together long distance. The term "long distance" still makes me cringe, and for good reason. For one, it brings to mind an image of a velour sweatsuit clad, 50 year old woman in New Jersey Facetiming her hairy-chested bae to update him about her grandkids. For another, it's truly not easy to sustain a relationship that consists of crackly phone calls, texting each other uninspired selfies and plane tickets back and forth. To make it through, you have to have patience, grit and a realistic understanding of your future together. A year and a 15 hour move across several states later, I can safely say that we've reached our sweet spot. We have a thoughtful, honest, caring relationship and we made it without arguing, nagging or annoying each other.
While there are a million factors in creating a respectful relationship, I'd like to credit a few things that I've found most helpful during the process.
Notes & Letters
This came naturally as we lived in different states but grew to be an integral part of our closeness to one another. Even now living in the same home, I try to find time to write out thoughts and feelings in letter form. There's a powerful vulnerability in ink that can lead to conversations you might never come across otherwise. There were a few times we were able to avoid conflict by expressing a concern or anxiety through writing and then discussing afterwards. For our one year anniversary recently, we went through a box full of saved letters and it was an emotional bonding experience to be able to have tangible evidence of our love.
Despite busy schedules and living in a city with far too many amazing restaurants, my partner and I committed early on to cooking together as much as possible. This ritual allows us active time together that we might not get otherwise and we find it both relaxing and fun. We spend a few hours on Sunday prepping and writing out what we're planning on a calendar so that we're more likely to stick to it. We generally crack a beer and swap stories about our day which is a solid alternative to eating take out in front of Netflix. We also split cleaning duties evenly which removes dishes from ever being a point of contention.
Being able to travel with your S/O is one of the most important aspects of a relationship that I can think of. I've read tons of cheesy posts that mention this but generally point you in the direction of an expensive trip abroad or a Disney cruise. In my opinion, the key is to travel as often as you can with as little money as you can. Everyone has a blast in Mexico with a booze budget but the real growth and discovery comes when the only food option is a gas station Subway. It's as easy as choosing a town a few hours away you don't know much about and loading up after work on a Friday. We have successfully made weekend trips a few times a month for the majority of our year together and the memories from these excursions are some of my most cherished. I'll make spaghetti or chili and pack it up for easy motel eating if we choose to do an overnight and we each bring a good book and a camera. We stop for antique stores and cute dogs and don't make too many plans. It's perfect.
I ordered us a year subscription for the Sunday News from Groupon and it's the best $20 I ever spent. A special ritual has grown from it in which we get up together, make coffee and an easy breakfast and read in our pajamas on the porch. We may be 80 years old at heart, but it's something we look forward to every week, and it sets the mood for a productive yet mellow Sunday.
Hobbies & Self Love
If your only hobby is doing things with your boyfriend, it's bound to fizzle out or lead to frustration. Make your hobby a top priority in your schedule and don't succumb the so-called "couple coma" that is all too appealing. Doing something you love on a regular basis for no one else but yourself will give you confidence and positivity which will feed back into your love life. Just make sure that you respect and support your partner's hobbies as much as you do your own. Nailing this balance can be more difficult than you'd imagine, but I think it's imperative for longevity and happiness. If you don't have any major hobbies, try something new out and keep trying until you find something you can't live without. Funnel your potential boredom into an activity rather than projecting it into your relationship and you'll be far and ahead of most couples.
We all know that love requires communication, honesty and trust but it takes a little extra work to fill in the blanks and write your own story. Take care of yourself, be self aware and don't be scared of vulnerability. With that in mind, you'll be able to accomplish anything.
Xx Kia & the CRUDE Crew