I am a long time reader of your blog (but I've never commented). Love your message and kind of feel like we'd maybe be buds if I lived on the west coast (in a totally non-creepy way, of course!) :) I know you are in a long distance relationship and I was wondering if you have any advice on how you make that work? I am in one myself (it's really new) and it's crazy the amount of question marks that continually go through my head about how this is going to work...
Either way, love your blog! thanks for the daily dose of gratitude.
As mentioned in my separate note to you, thank you so much for reaching out and for being a Grateful Lifer! I am incredibly humbled by your kind words and if you are ever on the west coast, let's definitely grab a coffee like old buds ;) Brandon and I are touched you would allow us the opportunity to take a crack at a response...it felt so good to discuss these things together, and we hope our personal thoughts are beneficial to your own long distance situation! Plus, any excuse to talk about my feelings (as my friends and I say, "I just have so.many.feelings!") you know I will pounce on...
1. Flirt! Girl, you gotta keep the romance extra alive when you are long distance. In some ways, because we don't have easy physical access to one another, it's as if we are constantly courting. We are fortunate to live in a world where there are multiple means of communication, so as B says: A little creativity can allow the distance to serve as a tool. Quick example: send old-fashioned snail-mail (as Trish calls it.) When is the last time you opened the mailbox and got something that wasn't a bill?
2. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. From day 1 of our relationship, about a year and some change ago, we have continued to explore the joys of authentic connection found in being vulnerable with one another. It can feel scary and humbling to let your guard down, but when you don't have the benefit of face to face, physical connection, vulnerability becomes even more valuable to the growth of your partnership. You have to be totally yourself and allow the other person sacred space to be his or her own self, too.
3. Don't set specific times to connect. This may seem counter intuitive to keeping a long distance relationship going, but avoiding making many on-the-calendar phone or Skype dates has worked wonders for us. Not only are we 3,000 miles apart, but we are also living with a 3 hour time difference between us. It places far too much pressure on each other when we try and set specific times to talk on the phone; someone almost always either feels rushed or forced while the other feels disappointed. We've found our own rhythm of keeping in touch simply by going with the flow of our separate but connected lives; we reach out when we want, but remain flexible and patient if the other person is not as available (including emotionally) in that moment. Or as Brandon says: Make love, not chores. The more you treat the relationship like a task, the less fun it becomes. Life happens, so when it does, move like a jellyfish. By being flexible and understanding that things are hard enough being apart, why allow the uncontrollable's to fuel the fire? Which of these sound better: setting a specific time to call, and someone goes MIA, or getting a random call just to say hello, or I miss you, or I hope your day is going well. Of course the latter.
4. Shift your perspective. Instead of always looking at the distance as a curse, try to see the silver lining in it. I really liked B's thoughts on this: You both saw something in each other that was clearly enticing enough to test the hurdle of distance. The important thing to realize is that each and every relationship is a unique dynamic, born of the interactions and weirdness we each bring to the table (side note from Trish: we love weird!). To illustrate, I've spoken with people who swear traveling every week for work is the best thing that's ever happened to their relationship. If you think about it, this puts the "absence makes the heart grow fonder" on continuous loop. Because you are already in a long distance relationship, it will be easy to illustrate. Recall the butterflies you get each time the two of you have gone days, weeks, or god forbid months apart. Now shift to the moment when you or he steps out from baggage claim, off the train, out of the taxi, or whatever mode of transportation reunites you both. Although not ideal, the distance almost fosters a prolonging of that giddy, new love feeling.
5. Trust the process. You'll hear me say this a lot on my blog as it's one of my core life mottos that has served me well over the past year, especially. Placing your concentration on what will be or what comes next...or even basing your tomorrow off of what has happened in the past...leads you astray from the present moment. B and I have found that when we take things one day at a time, enjoying one another right here and now, there is an ease to our distance. And when we are together? Shew, it is so very wonderful. Since re-connecting over a year ago, B and I have spent time in San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, DC, Philly, New York, Hawaii, Australia and Florida (not to mention a plethora of other west and east coast small towns) together. If I could summarize a single tip on how we made all of that happen, it would be by trusting the process--not fighting to be one thing or another, but simply by going with the flow and letting it all unfold as naturally as possible.
6. "Normal" relationship advice still applies. Love, give, respect, trust, laugh and play; be kind, be honest, be open, be silly. Whatever pieces of advice have resonated with you before in non-long distance relationships should continue to be important to you, now.
7. Throw out this list and do what works for you. As Brene Brown says, "No one can define what's meaningful for us." Although these things have helped our relationship continue to grow and thrive, you should always do what feels right for you and your boyfriend above all else. Plenty of well intentioned folks have offered tidbits of advice to B and I on this subject, but following our own two hearts is what has really nurtured our seeds of love to continue blooming.
Trish and Brandon