5 things you learn from having a long distance relationship

So, a question. Does this long distance relationship thing really work?

Well I tell you this. I sure do hope so.

To let you know where I stand on the issue. They suck. But I have learnt a lot more than just that.

I’ll tell you the story of my boyfriend and me to start you off. Who doesn’t love a good story (it’ll be almost like you’re watching a chick flick… well, not really…)

I started dating my boyfriend at the end of sixth form, and I mean it was literally the end but that’s a story for another time… We’d already got our plans sorted for post A-levels which meant we started with the inevitability of the long distance thing. I moved to London to work with a charity in September and a month and 10 days ago Ben went to Kenya on a mission trip. He’s there for just under 3 months more and we’ve spent more time apart than together overall. We could still see each other before he went to Kenya; I’m a youth worker so I could see him in the school holidays and he came to visit me when he wasn’t working. But it sucked then, it sucks even more now and realistically it’s going to suck for a while in the future.

I wonder if anyone can relate because I’m just tired. I’m tired of being sad, I’m tired of missing him and strangely, I’m tired of trying to cling onto hope.

But it is that hope that’s brought me here.

And here’s what I’ve learnt about relationships and myself from this whole ‘long distance’ thing:

I love hugs

I honestly did not realise that I loved hugs so much until I couldn’t have them from the one person I wanted them from. Physical contact matters more than you might think. You might have heard of the 5 love languages, if you haven’t it’s basically the idea that everyone likes giving and receiving love in different ways. Touch is one of the ways. Now I would not say that touch is one of my love languages but it still matters a lot when you’re in a relationship and if you can’t have it then you want it more than anything.

If you’re in a long distance relationship what I’ll tell you is that try to organise to meet up with your partner as much as your budget allows. Touch is important and when you eventually get that hug, it will mean more to you than any hug you’ve had before hand. I know it’s hard when you’re apart and what you want seems so simple but as tiring as the wait is, hopefully one day you’ll only have to wait till you get in from work to get that hug.

 

There’s only really one person I want to share my thoughts with

Communication with your other half is made considerably harder when you don’t see each other on a regular basis. Sure you might message everyday but that isn’t the same as being able to read someone’s body language. There have definitely been times where I’ve been really upset and just warn out from everything that’s happening yet when I’ve sent a message to Ben I’ve sounded really happy, simply because I didn’t want to put a downer on his day. If I was with him in person we would be able to pick up each others emotions from how we both looked and were acting. As much as it may be partly my own fault Ben doesn’t always know how I’m feeling it always effects me. I can try and talk to anyone else I spend time with and explain how I feel and it won’t be the same.

So as terrible as I am at it, one of the key things about a long distance relationship is that you’ve got to be completely upfront about how you’re feeling. And that means vebally, it’s not something we’re always used to, most of the time if you’re crying you don’t need to tell someone you’re upset but when they’re thousands of miles away you do. And as good as your friends may be sometimes you might be feeling something they just don’t get.

Which leads me nicely onto my next point…

 

Friends that relate their issues to your relationship can get incredibly irritating

Now, my friends have my best intentions at heart but when they start to complain about not seeing their boyfriend for 2 days I can start to get a little annoyed. Now much of this problem comes down to the fact that I’m more emotionally fragile in a long distance relationship; the chances are that the thought of how much better life would be if Ben was around hasn’t left my mind all day. So honestly, a lot of the time while they’re complaining I’m desperately wishing I was in their position.  Just don’t get me started about when they start saying it’s easier for me…

As I say, most of the time my irritation is my overreaction rather than the fault of my friends, but does anyone else find this?? If you’re struggling with this all I can say is try to stick it out while your partner is far away you’re quite reliant on friends so don’t take them for granted. They care about you and as much as they drive you up the wall you probably love them too.

 

That random couple are so damn cute, and now I’m going to go and cry

When I was single, I had no issue with valentines day, it was not different to any other day of the year. This year however, every post about every relationship on Facebook was another reminder of the fact that I wasn’t with the person I wanted to be with. I mean I get jealous enough when I see a couple holding hands at a bus stop let alone when I see all the wonderful things people are getting up to on valentines day. I remember when Ben first went off to Kenya one of the things I missed the most was just being able to call him whenever and have a chat if I was feeling down. Because of this I would want to cry every time I saw someone on the phone, which in London is a lot!

Again I feel my advice if you are suffering with this one is a little lacking and I’m maybe asking advice from you more than I am giving it. But what I always try and remember is that no relationship is perfect, and they, almost certainly have their issues despite how cute their relationship looks.

 

My partner has a life but so do I

It’s natural in a long distance relationship I think to become a bit jealous (hopefully not too much though…), that’s one of the problems of them. I’m jealous of my friends relationship, that random couple in the street and possibly most of all any of the people who get to spend time with Ben, because I tell you what, he’s pretty darn cool. Ben has a great team with him out in Kenya, he seems to be really enjoying it and honestly I couldn’t be happier for him (if nothing else if we were doing this and he hated it, it wouldn’t really seem worth it…) but I wish sometimes I could be doing the fun things he’s doing with him. Ben has a life without me, he has friends and he is capable of being happy without me in his life, and actually I think that is one of the things I find hardest.

This does work the other way though, I have a team working with me in London, and they’re absolutely amazing. I have friends here and I really enjoy what I’m doing. This doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I couldn’t spend my time with Ben but it has shown me that I can live life without him and dare I say enjoy it. It is possible, so if you’re in a long distance relationship just remember you have a life too and it gets easier. In a way it sounds like you’re living a single lifestyle but the best thing about all of the fun things you get up to when your partner is away is being able to tell them about it in a message or if you can over the phone.

The say ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’, I don’t know if that’s always the case but it does make you appreciate the connections you have and I love sharing happy memories with the person I love.

So I know it sucks sometimes but I hope for everyone’s sakes that it’s worth it.

 

Jess

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