Long-distance relationships require a lot of patience and work. Not being able to physically touch the person you love is not easy. Many times it can be extremely hard, but studies show that couples within these relationships are more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings because in place of physical time together, all they have is
communication. I interviewed Toni, owner of her own nail business (P10 Nails) in Georgia, and Darius, a truck driver residing in Florida, who have been successfully making a long distance relationship work for 2 years. They helped me understand how they make it work, while keeping the relationship exciting.
It is not always easy to match each other’s schedules when you live close to your partner, let alone when you are miles away from them. Communication is pivotal in a long-distance relationship because at times it is all you have. Even though they are not physically there, a person can still “be there” for their partner and prioritizing their needs is just as important when living apart.
“I make it a priority to call him on my lunch breaks even if I have other things to do during that time,” says Toni. “Because he drives trucks, his schedule is sporadic and he might have to be asleep during most of the day and drive through the early morning hours, so if I don’t call him on my break, I may not speak to him all day. If I really can’t find the time for a call I make sure to send a text telling him I miss him or I love him or just to ask what he ate that day. Being on a truck can get lonely and my job as a nail tech can keep my hands busy for 12 straight hours a day, so making time to talk is really important.”
Talk When You Can
When you are in a long-distance relationship, the only way to really learn about your loved one is by talking when you can. Days can be really busy, so finding the time to talk to your partner when you have time is key in making it work. Because they have a short window to talk, couples in long-distance relationships share a connection like no other couples. This is because they share more deep, and intimate feelings with each other when they have the time to talk.
When I asked Toni how often she and Darius get to talk on the phone, her answer was interesting, because even if they were silent on the phone the whole time, she still feels connected. “Sometimes it’s once a day for 30 minutes, sometimes even 10 minutes, but when I’m off work and he’s up late driving, we’ll stay on the phone for 6 or 7 hours straight, just to keep each other company. A lot of the time we’re not even talking honestly, it’s just nice to have each other present for whatever is going on at that time. It kind of replaces actually being able to physically do everyday things together like grocery shopping or watching a movie. It helps add a sense of normalcy to the relationship. We got to learn each other’s habits and routines, in a way, even though we weren’t together just by spending extensive time on the phone and Skype/Facetime.”
Visit Each Other
A relationship needs more than just Facetime, and texting. If you can take the time to visit each other, for example, set a rule of never going more than X amount of time without seeing each other physically. Toni and Darius see each other “about once every 2 or 3 months for a few days. Sometimes a few hours if he only has time to stop the truck for a little while.”
Do Not Stay Angry
Disagreements are the worst in any relationship. It causes stress, and changes your dynamic as a couple, especially if you let it fester and build up. Communication is the only way to get through it.
Toni stressed that talking about the issue is essential. “Talk, talk, talk. There’s no make-up sex or even a kiss to remind them that you still care, when you can’t find the words. You have to find the words, or you don’t speak at all. But, because I’m the weaker communicator in the relationship, sometimes the conversation ended with ‘I don’t want to talk about this right now, I’ll call you tomorrow.’ If you live together, you can’t just ignore it. So, long distance does give you more space to cool off.”
Just because you aren’t physically close with your loved one does not mean you cannot go on dates. It can be a Netflix and chill date, or a Facetime dinner date. Toni mentioned that for Valentine’s Day, they both dressed up for their Facetime date.
Trust & Respect
When you think of a long-distance relationship, you might wonder ‘how can you really trust that the person is faithful? You have no clue what they are doing at every moment.’ There must be some kind of boundaries that couples have within this type of relationship, right? When asked, Toni and Darius were united in their reply of “no.”
Toni went on to explain that “We both understand that in this situation the truth is you don’t know at all what the other person is doing. We spend so much time apart, he travels a lot, and I work really late; we could lie about where we are all the time. We have to have an amplified level of trust. Both of us are pretty introverted anyway, so we don’t go out much. We stay open about things like that and check in to see what might make the other person uncomfortable. For instance, I don’t see an issue with having lunch with a male colleague, but I made sure to ask my boyfriend how he felt about it, even though he had never expressed any discomfort about it before.”
Twice The Work
Both Toni and Darius agreed that being in a long-distance relationship was harder compared to past, closer relationships. What helped them is the fact that they were friends for 14 years before they decided to be a couple. A strong foundation is important for a relationship, especially one that is long-distance.
The End Goal
After dating for two years the couple has met one of their end goals, living together! This can be a huge adjustment after dating someone long-distance for such a long period of time. There are new things that you learn about each other that you might not have been able to pick up on while being so far apart, some are cute, while others annoying. Toni and Darius have been living together a little over a month, and both shared their experience so far.
Both Toni and Darius expressed that the transition has been a little challenging. The hardest part? Learning each other’s quirks, and habits around the house. For Toni “I like to cook just about every night because that’s what my parents did when I was growing up, but for him it’s tedious. e got used to eating out a lot when he was living on his own… I’m more picky than he is, it’s small things that I didn’t know he did, like eating out of containers instead of a bowl or plate, but that’s such a small thing. It wasn’t any kind of issue, but after I asked him why he did that once, he hasn’t done it as often since.”
Darius said it is a bit challenging because they were raised differently and little things he wouldn’t have thought twice about he now has to, for example, “she doesn’t like for me to use paper towels for anything but spills. That wasn’t a thing in my household growing up. We used paper towels and napkins for dinners, spills or just to wipe our hands but if I did that here all hell would break loose (lol).”
It was interesting to interview the two about living together, sometimes their answers were unanimous, while others were different. It made me realize just how differently two people view things. I asked the couple what is something new they learned about each other. Darius said “She swears she doesn’t know how to cook but she is very detailed in the little things she does when she cooks and everything I do cooking-wise is wrong according to her.” While Toni said “He likes to cook with garlic salt. I don’t like garlic salt at all.”
No matter how long you have known someone there is always the chance of learning something new from them, even if its small. For Toni it was “how to correctly turn off the playstation without losing all the saved game.” Darius took a different approach, stating that he has learned “to have more patience and to take our time and appreciate one another.”
Both stated that this transition has not been easy, but one thing is for certain, since living together, they both agree that their connection is stronger than ever. “Every little gesture and sacrifice made to make sure you’re comfortable,
making meals for each other, having long conversations while cuddled up on the couch, encouraging one another and physically showing affection strengthens the connection we have.”
Relationships are a lot of work, especially long-distance ones. They have their advantages and disadvantages. Some people cannot imagine being away from their loved one for over a week. In Toni’s case, she mentioned that their relationship was long-distance from day 1, making it a bit easier.
In order to commit to a long-distance relationship, there has to be a huge level of respect and trust involved. It requires prioritizing, a lot of patience, and love for the person you are taking the journey with. It can lead to a deeper, more meaningful connection between the couple. The long-distance eventually comes to an end once goals are fulfilled, with the support of each other. If a couple can work together through long-distance relationships, they can work through almost any obstacle together.