Expat Life Lifestyle

Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

The past month has been an especially trying time for me. It’s hard enough to sort out a visa! But coordinating on two different continents with a 7 hour time difference, and the fact that Sam works from 10am-11pm sure didn’t ease the process. Everything has been mailed off; so all we need to do is wait patiently to hear the answer. (The hardest part obviously.)

Long distance relationships are hard. That’s a no brainer. There are times when I barely restrain myself from throwing my shoe at Sam, only to remember that I’m speaking to him on Skype and I do not want to smash my computer screen into a bazillion pieces. But that’s normal (okay, my quick temper is not) but fighting while you are apart is normal. Being away from each other doesn’t mean that the little nuanced ways of getting under each other’s skin have disappeared, if anything they are magnified. There are other times when I want to cry because this sucks. And there are other times when it all doesn’t seem so bad.

There are the hopelessly cheerful people who say things  like “absence makes the heart grow fonder…” and “in the end you’ll reap the benefits of your troubles” when you start embarking on a long-distance relationship. These people won’t make your life easier. Too all these people I say, “You know what else makes my heart grown fonder? Cuddles. So suck it.”

But before I scare anyone away, I’d have to add, yep, and knowing the current problems I’d do it all over again. Because even though long distance blows (there’s no silver-lining, let’s be honest) I love his stupid face. And I’ll always love his stupid face. Even if his stupid face starts looking even stupider because it’s stupid and wrinkly.

I’m not expert, trust me. I’m sure there are better qualified people out there who can give advice on this topic.  But these are the tips and tricks that I’ve discovered that make everything more bearable:

1. Because of the aforementioned hurdles Sam and I have to be organized in our communication. To the best of our abilities we plan Skype dates ahead of time.

2. I have my English cell-phone still. But I don’t want to have a million dollar phone fee when I get back to the UK. So I’ve turned my cellular data off and have it in airplane mode. However, I keep wifi on and have downloaded the two brilliant apps.
1. What’s app- you can text anyone in the world for free as long as you are on wifi
2. Viber- you can call anyone in the world for free as long as you are on wifi

3. The more you miss each other, the more you will bicker. The inability to be with someone will make you grumpy. You’re going to take that out on your partner at times.  When you do you just need to take a step back and realize what you are doing. (We have both been culprits of this.)

4. Even though you may be 1000s of miles apart, you are still partners. In applying for my visa, I’ve been getting really emotional, worn-down and feel like it’s all on my shoulders. Sam does his best to remind me that I’m not alone and that although he can’t be here handling the documentation crisis with me he’ll support me whenever and however he can.

5. I’m going to be completely honest: I am a VERY emotionally high-maintenance person. That makes me extra hard to deal with. Don’t date one of these people. It will make your life infinitely more challenging forever. (Except for you Sam, you’re stuck with me.)

6. Send mail. There’s very few things that make people happier than getting an actual letter. Plus there’s something nice about touching something your partner touched a few days ago. It’s comforting somehow. (Or maybe that’s just me?)

7. Make Skype dates fun. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to just re-hash the details of your day over and over.  Somethings we do:
A. Sam misses my baking so I walk him step-by-step through a simple cookie recipe while we are on skype together.
B. Have themed skype dates. (That was actually his idea first not mine.) For example, Mexican night: Eat mexican food, drink margaritas, wear a sombrero.  The point is to do something silly together even though you are far apart.
C. Share articles. If you find something hilarious on buzzfeed, send it to your partner and watch their reaction.

8. This is obviously a no brainer, but remember to tell each other that you miss each other. It’s reassuring to know that your partner feels the same way and that you don’t have to be stoic for each other all the time. (I am never stoic. Weepy mess? Maybe.)

9. If you’re bummed out that you can’t share the little things that make your days together special. Take a picture to email it to them later. I always snap photos of things I think Sam will think are funny or nice later.

10. Remind yourself of why you’re going through all this trouble in the first place.

(End of term Summer Ball last year. This night ended with us dancing around a table,
with a donuts in hand, having eaten at least a dozen other Krispy Kremes between us.
Free cider, you clever devil! You struck well that time.)

As a sidenote to number 7- I sent Sam freakishly specific baking instructions because I know he’s a novice. So I specified when to use the hand mixer and when to mix by hand. And he literally mixed by hand. As in used his hands. I don’t know if anything has ever made me laugh so much as his innocent account of how he made cookies using his damn fingers.

If you hung on till the bitter end of this very text heavy post, I am super proud.

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  • Amy @ The Tide That Left

    Your the first year+ of our relationship my husband was in Libya so I can identify with a lot of this. I joined him after about 16 months, but we had visa hassle for 4 of those and I remember that time being the hardest because I felt like I was in it on my own. Remembering to proper dates via Skype was the best thing we could do during that time to ensure that we didn’t lose sight of the fact that the hard work was for both of us. I really hope you get good news soon!

  • Maggie

    You guys are way too cute. Greg and I have done a few bouts of LDR, we are actually doing 2 months right now. It is nicer when we don’t have to worry about the huge time difference, but it can be really hard. I am also emotionally needy, so I turn into a huge raging cry ball frequently. Our favorite Skype date is watching the same movie together. It is hard to match things up, but it is always fun and entertaining.
    long distance is hard, but it is a lot better when you love their stupid face 🙂 haha

  • Tami

    You and Sam are adorable. I’d be an emotional hot mess if I had to do long distance, even temporarily. The “mix by hand” story made me almost choke on my juice at my desk, so thank you.

  • Aww this is too sweet. I have been there myself, and it is an extremely difficult and trying time. I don’t mean to sound so cliche, but it really is true that it’s all worth it in the end. I had no clue about viber! Gotta check it out now.

    Crossing my fingers that all goes well for you! Can’t wait to have you back around these parts. xx

  • I love the honesty! I can’t imagine it being easy to be apart for so long and OF COURSE arguments will arise. I really hope you’ll be with each other again soon because really, cuddles are the best.

  • meet.make.laugh.

    Great post! My husband and I did 3 years apart (though only in cities 3 hours apart, so we got visits in every month) and it SUCKED. Good luck with your VISA application! ~Stephanie

  • Angelique Ouellette-Tower

    You have a wonderful blog!! I’m your newest GFC follower from the “I love my post” blog hop – this is my blog if you wanted to follow back: godsgrowinggarden.com

  • I hear you so clear on the LDR thing. I sometimes forget that I am a member of this club, or was or whatnot. My husband and I have had to do it several times due to the military and then a couple of times with our Expat life. It is never easy and I feel for us that being apart is usually the worst thing that we could do to ourselves. Especially since he is very laid back and low maintenance and I can be very much like you. Which is why I love the tips you share about how you guys are tackling it this time around. Very good advice especially with the preplanning skype dates. The last time we just sorta winged it and we would go days without talking, which was really hard on me. I hope you guys get to be reunited soon!

    Bonnie Rose | a Compass Rose

  • Vivienne Z

    Can’t stop laughing at the mixing cookie dough with bare hands part! You’ve won yourself a new follower with that 😉