19 Jun Lessons from Our LDR
Let’s face it- finding someone that you’re compatible with who doesn’t totally drive you out of your mind is hard enough.
But long-distance relationships?…I mean, who has time and effort for that?
Josh and I had our first interactions through Tumblr. We both had similar styles of posting on our individual blogs; a photo here, a song there, an occasional post or rant there. We both followed each other for a while actually, going back to 2010 during our sophomore years of high school. Then, in 2013, Josh posted a song I loved: “The Ghost in You” by The Psychedelic Furs. I replied to the post, he messaged me back, and eventually we started chatting.
After a few months, he told me that he was coming to Boston to check out schools in the east coast, so we had planned on meeting each other for the first time. After the day, we both talked about how fun it was, and we seemed to click right away. We agreed that if he ended up in New England, we should continue chatting and see where it goes. And five years later, here we are!
I would have never imagined that my first serious relationship would be one that was long-distance. Although a majority of our relationship was with Josh in California for summers and myself in Massachusetts, we are now in a more manageable distance of Rhode Island to Massachusetts. We decided to have an open conversation about our experience, and share some tips and ideas for other couples.
Allina: What was your reaction when you first met me in person?
Josh: I was half nervous, half excited. I remember seeing your sisters look through the window as my car pulled up to your house. I was hoping that you would be the one to answer the door, but your mom did and I remember seeing you stand a couple feet behind her just waiting. I don’t remember how I introduced myself to your mom or how my mom introduced herself, but I remember just staring at you and thinking, “Wow! She’s a real person.”
A: Yeah, I remember pacing around my house waiting for you to ring my doorbell and I was extremely nervous. When you finally pulled up to my driveway, I ran to my mom’s room and told her to answer the door, which explains why she was the one who answered. I just remember you looking and smiling at me as soon as the door opened and I have to admit it was pretty weird. We had already been texting each other for a couple of months and I guess I was nervous about what you’d think of me in person.
J: What, you never told me that? That’s really cute. At that point, honestly, I was ready to cancel the rest of the tours for colleges I was checking out just so I can spend more time with you. Knowing that I was just there for a day before going back to California, did you at all think that you would want to pursue a relationship with me?
A: I had a really good time exploring Boston with you. Actually, so good that I was also worried about what would happened if we were to continue talking and if our feelings for each other continued to develop. We had absolutely no idea if we were going to be near each other for college and I think it was a risk for both of us. At what point did you think that it would be worth to try it?
J: Well luckily, when we first saw each other it was April, and we had to choose colleges by early May. Before we knew each other, I was focused on looking at schools in the Boston area. Ultimately, it worked out that I found a school that I thought had a decent program at the time. I was really eager to be closer to you and see if we were compatible enough to date. After the first couple of dates, I knew that we had potential. Even though we were an hour drive away from each other, most of the time, we would have to rely on public transportation to see each other, and if lucky, we would see each other every other weekend. Starting the relationship like that, did you think that was enough time spent together for us to get to know each other intimately?
A: Ideally, I would have much rather preferred seeing each other often rather than one or two weekends a month, but we did a good job of actively communicating with each other when we were apart. We tried our best to Skype and FaceTime frequently, and when we would see each other, we made it worthwhile. Sometimes it was difficult, but being in a long-distance relationship, you learn about trust and honesty first. We got to know each other first and foremost because all we could ever do was ask questions and talk to each other. What is the best and worst part of being in a long-distance relationship?
Sometimes it was difficult, but being in a long-distance relationship, you learn about trust and honesty first.
J: For me, one part I like about having a bit of distance is that there is always a certain element of us missing each other, which makes our time together even more enjoyable. We realize how we don’t see each other often, so we try to maximize our sense of adventure when we travel or explore when we meet up.
But on the flip side of that, sometimes it genuinely is hard to build intimacy. Being limited to just words on a phone screen or only seeing each other through a Skype call can be difficult at times. This can also lead to misinterpretations when we communicate. How do you think we make it work?
A: I think we do a pretty good job of putting in a bit of extra effort when we’re apart. One of the favorite things that I loved was waking up to a random voicemail from you even after we had skyped the night before. We can’t see each other often, so it’s really important to find other things that keep that spark alive. Little things here and there remind me that you still care, and in a sense, sometimes it’s a replacement for a kiss or a hug. Another important aspect is how we handle conflict. I’ll let you take over.
One of the favorite things that I loved was waking up to a random voicemail from you even after we had skyped the night before. We can’t see each other often, so it’s really important to find other things that keep that spark alive. Little things here and there remind me that you still care, and in a sense, sometimes it’s a replacement for a kiss or a hug.
J: Communication is always the biggest factor in handling conflicts, regardless of distance. I try not to get too hung up on little fights here and there over text; if I feel like it’s a bigger issue, I’d try to bring it up over a call. With small conflicts, I also follow my parents’ approach of trying not to let arguments carry over into the next day. They very much believed in trying to solve things as soon as possible so that there wouldn’t be as much baggage in the future.
However, that’s not always the case with larger arguments. Giving each other space can be a short-term remedy, giving both of us a bit of room to distance ourselves from the issue. Whenever we have large arguments, I try not to be as reactionary and take a step back, breaking down the issues objectively. Being honest with each other’s feelings is also a productive way to build empathy and hopefully can prevent large conflicts in the future.
Giving each other space can be a short-term remedy, giving both of us a bit of room to distance ourselves from the issue. Whenever we have large arguments, I try not to be as reactionary and take a step back, breaking down the issues objectively. Being honest with each other’s feelings is also a productive way to build empathy and hopefully can prevent large conflicts in the future.
A: I agree, for me personally I think a majority of our conflicts, both small and big, have been a result of the distance. We’re both strong-minded people and it’s easy for it to escalate when we’re arguing via texting. Arguing on the phone or video call versus arguing through text messaging makes a huge difference. Through text messaging, its harder to gauge the other person’s facial expressions or voice changes.
The most important thing always comes down to how we handle it, and through the years, we’ve learned that some arguments are just not worth it. There have been times where we end the night fighting but wake up the next day and would much rather make up and talk to each other. We make a good team and I hope we continue to overcome these challenges.
In our dream situation, we are both in the same city and can meet up for lunch on a weekday with no hesitation; we could go to a concert on a Tuesday or walk a dog or five on a Thursday. Seeing each other would be no more than a half hour commute by bus or train, and we would no longer be separated by long distance.
It’s important, though, to remain in the present and look at the relationship within that context rather than focus on the idea of dating in the future. As our relationship continues to develop, I know that however close or far we are, we can always learn from each other.