I met my boyfriend while traveling abroad in Barcelona last year—we spent a long weekend holding hands and acting love-struck on patio cafes and old quarters. But we had the tricky situation of being from two different continents. After I had my last paella of the trip, I was going to go back to Chicago and he would be back on his way to Ireland. We made peace with it—it was a holiday fling, and long distance was something only rom-com heroines did in matinee movies.
Fast forward to a month later and I was flying to Dublin to see him and we were exchanging "I love yous" and "I'm canceling my ticket back home" faster than my mother can yell "what the hell is going on?" down the phone line. It's been a year now and we've made it work, and neither of us see it stopping anytime soon. So if you're currently in a long distance relationship and aren't sure how to not lose your mind while in it, here are some of my most favorite tips.
Don't Become Lazy With Your Texting
This might sound like a piece of advice I'd tell you if we were gossiping by our lockers in junior high, but texts matter. We usually talk on the phone twice a week, but we text each other throughout the day just so it can feel like we don't have as much distance between us. Here's the thing, though: Choose quality over quantity. As in, don't hammer out a series of half-assed texts in between appointments or chores just so you can check it off your list. It's much better to pause whatever you're doing for five minutes and give your beau your full attention. You'll feel a lot more closer after having an engaged exchange for a few minutes than getting one word answers and a series of "lol"s you tossed each other in between errands.
Become Compulsive With Your Camera
Whether it's through Snapchat or texting each other little videos, a game changer for me was when we started sending videos of our day-to-day to each other. It made you feel like you were actually part of their life rather than just hearing about it while you were sitting on a couch thousands of miles away. For example, if I had a meeting in downtown I'd send a series of snaps of our skyline, the great musician playing his sax on the train platform, and the cute cafe I'd totally go split a muffin with him if he was here. Pictures work too, but there's something about a video that makes it feel like you're standing there with them. Invite them into your life by just pressing a button.
Send Each Other Little Nothings
This one takes a little more coordination, but it makes you feel like you're courting each other, old school style. From sending each other postcards to mailing over your favorite chocolate from your city (or country), sending small knick-knacks through the post adds a little sweetness to your time apart. This way you're not just waiting till that faraway date when one of you hops on a plane to meet the other; you have all these treats in the mail to look forward to, too. And it shows you're in a constant state of thinking about each other. I've done everything from commissioning an artist on Etsy to draw a cartoon photo of us and mailing it over, to mailing a five-dollar Starbucks gift card with instructions of getting a frilly holiday drink—something he made fun of in a previous conversation.
Plan Your Time Together
The way an Irish visa works is that I can be there for three months, but then I have to go back home for three months. But while I'm back in my own apartment, one thing we love to do is plan the first week when we're back together. It turns it into a little adventure, and the time apart doesn't feel so unbearable. Whether it's just deciding to hike through scenic trails a short ride away from his place, or maybe booking a cheap flight to Spain to change our scenery, planning our first week back adds a little zing to the time apart. That and it makes you appreciate one great thing about having a long distance relationship: The two of you get to travel a lot!
Try To Do Twin Activities
One really fun thing to do while you're apart is to make up twin activities you two can jump in on. For example, find a cool recipe and say the two of you will make it—in your separate kitchens—on the same evening. You can even cook it while you're on the phone or video chatting, or just make it yourself and know that your person is going to enjoy the same meal as you, just in a different zip code. Another thing we've done is get the same weird lattes in the morning, or promise to get a certain drink while out on a Friday night and then send a picture over. It makes you feel a little more connected.
Do Nice Things For Each Other
It's easy to get lonely while you're miles apart, and sometimes thoughts sneak into your head when it's been weeks without seeing your partner. Is it worth it? Do they even like you anymore? Is the spark dead? In order to avoid dovetailing into crazy-town (I've been there, done that my fair share of times while drinking white wine and watching TV Land), go out of your way to do nice things for each other.
It can be little things. My guy is a musician, so he wrote a song for me on the fly once and emailed the recording. I'm good with words, so I write funny little poems about us now and then and send them over as a surprise. If you know they're having a bad day, you can always send over an e-gift card to their favorite takeout place so they can treat themselves, or you can mail over a small trinket you've found while being in your own town, but made you think of them. Remember: You're apart from each other probably more than you're together. Going out of your way to express affection and love is part of the package.