How to Survive Long-Distance Love
A long distance relationship was never something I thought would be a part of my life, but God has a funny way of helping you release your own plans and instead, begin trusting Him. Last Summer I flew out to visit my best friend, Ashley, and her new baby boy. While I was in Michigan visiting, we had the crazy idea to style and photograph a styled wedding inspiration shoot. (This was crazy, because Ashley just had her baby four weeks before!) Being an interior designer and stylist, I designed and planned an apple orchard wedding inspiration shoot and Ashley, a wildly talented photographer, was in charge of finding models for the day. In the car on the way to photo shoot, Ashley slyly mentioned the guy who was playing our groomsman for the shoot was single, handsome, and this was her ploy to get me to move to Michigan. I laughed it off and then once I saw said guy, became exceedingly nervous, because yes, he really was handsome! After minimal conversation at the photo shoot (I was so nervous!) he called me that night (Guys, take note: a phone call means much more than a text message) and asked to take me to lunch the next day, before my flight back home to California. During lunch that day I saw what a gentle, kind, and family-oriented man he was, all qualities I had on my mental checklist.
Lunch ended, I flew back to California, and to my surprise, we just kept communicating. Text, Skype, phone calls. We spoke every single day! I thought he was funny, genuine, patient, thoughtful, and was taken by his love for God. As he sits here next to me while I write this, he tells me he loved that I was creative, how I saw my job as tool to serve people, and how my desire to love God was what really captured his heart. We lined up on all the foundational elements we both felt were needed to make a relationship work. We both felt absolutely sure we were supposed to be together, so if it meant doing long distance, we would give it our best try.
A long distance relationship is not for the faint of heart. It refines your trust, communication, and patience, which can actually be very rewarding. While I was living in California and McCann was in Michigan, we made it a point to talk every day, keep each other updated on our days so we felt included in one another’s lives, write hand written letters to each other, send photos of what we were doing throughout the day, send care packages each month full of yummy treats and books to read, and try to have some sort of fun with each other over Skype or texting. Sometimes that would mean playing a game on our phones together, watching the same TV show, cooking the same dinner, or something of the like. Because of the distance, we were forced to talk often, so it seemed like we were able to get to know each other quickly. The big, important topics came up fast and I think that’s how we knew to continue pursuing the relationship. Within months of dating I could see myself with this man forever, because I couldn’t even remember life without him in it.
After eight months of long distance, multiple visits back and forth, a whole lot of cards, and virtual dates, I knew I needed to be close to my man to learn the little things about him. While long distance certainly helps you be a great communicator and you do learn a lot of fundamental, big picture things about one another, the every day mannerisms are lacking. I packed my bags and moved to Michigan a little over two months ago, and I know it was the right thing to do. Because of the long distance, we have a great foundation for our relationship. We were forced to get everything out in the open right away which paved the way for a healthy relationship, where both of us are confident in the end goal, feel comfortable and safe with one another, and of course try not to take the time we are able to spend with each other now for granted. As they say, distance sure does make the heart grow fonder! I’m grateful for that time apart, because it solidified the fact that I really do want to be near him whenever possible.
McCann and I sat down to make a list of a few things we feel helped us get through our long distance journey. Hope you enjoy them!
- Be sure you have the big, important conversations (about faith, family, location, etc.) early on, so you can really decide if you two are a good fit for one another past all the emotional “butterflies” of a new relationship.
- If you decide to pursue the relationship, communicate throughout the day! Text, talk on the phone, or Skype, because this will help you not feel so far away. Thank you technology!
- As I wrote that last one, McCann wanted the third point to be “but don’t over do it!” ☺ While talking and Skyping is great and so helpful to making you feel closer than you are, don’t over do the communication. We learned that because talking is all we could do (we didn’t have the luxury of going to see a movie or going to dinner together), it would get frustrating if we didn’t have anything to talk about. Sometimes there’s just nothing left to say other than “I miss you”, and that is OK. Sometimes we would just Skype while doing things around our house, so it was like we were with each other, but didn’t feel the need to talk or have a full on, deep conversation. Don’t put any pressure on yourselves.
- Come up with things to do together. We would watch HGTV together at night and discuss what house the couple should choose on House Hunters. I told you, I got a good guy! ☺ McCann also found this app called Quiz Up where we’d play quizzes against each other about different topics we were both interested in. We both thought that was fun! Sometimes we’d both cook while Skyping and then eat “together”. On Sunday’s after church, we’d come home and watch a sermon from our favorite pastor together on Skype, then talk about what we learned. All of these things made the distance a little more bearable.
- This is an obvious one, but try to see each other as much as possible and try to include your families. It’s important to get to know the family of the person you are dating as well!
Photography by Ashley Slater