Keys to a Happy Long Distance Relationship

NFL season is upon us.

Usually I’m excited, but this year, it’s a bittersweet feeling.

Teams opened training camp this past Thursday, which means my boyfriend, Tre, had to head back up to Seattle for the start of his third season. Right now, he’s just focused on the four grueling weeks of camp that lie ahead for him. As for me- I’m focused on the next six months that lie ahead for us.

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Once the season officially begins, I start grad school. And my calendar is going to be just as busy & demanding as his. I won’t have a flexible schedule anymore, which means no more regular week(s)-long visits. Last year, I became a serious pro at traveling. I’d fly back and forth continuously from LA to Seattle, making sure I never missed his home games. This time, I’ll be lucky to make it to at least one or two games. But one of the things I’ve indirectly learned from the NFL is the importance of learning how to adjust- quickly. So with that said, I realize Tre and I have to get creative in order to make this long-distance thing work. FaceTime is a given, but besides that, what else can you do to keep a relationship thriving from over a thousand miles away?

Here’s a start:

  1. Communicate.
    It’s both self-explanatory and surprisingly misinterpreted. In a LDR dialogue is your primary source of contact, but there’s no need to text each other 12 hours a day, just make time to speak to each other regularly. Communication is about making things clear- including your feelings, your thoughts, and general updates. For example, if you can’t talk that day, let your significant other know. This will eliminate any (bad) speculations, and save you from unnecessary headaches. It’s all about making things as clear as possible- leave no room for assumptions.
  2. Schedule time to talk.
    This one isn’t necessary for everyone, but if your schedules are busy, it’s a good way to ensure that you don’t start drifting apart. You make time for everything else that’s important throughout your day, this should be one of them.
  3. Good morning’s & good night’s are a must.
    This is a personal preference for me. If there is no other contact throughout the day, whether it’s because you’re busy, or maybe not in the mood to talk (it happens), at least send your hi’s & bye’s. It takes all of 20 seconds to type & send, and now you both know everyone’s safe and sound.
  4. Keep it spicy.
    Texts, pictures, videos or whatever floats your boat. Love and romance are sweet, but you can’t ignore the biology of the human body. Sexual tension is important in a relationship. You can look at it as the glue that keeps you both from drifting apart (and “looking elsewhere”).
  5. On that note, send photos.
    It can be photos of what you’re doing, or just of your face, it doesn’t matter. They want to see you. Don’t solely rely on them enjoying the #selfies you post on Instagram- send them *exclusive content.*
  6. Play video games.
    Tre got a Nintendo Switch, and you can play online, so now I’m thinking of getting my own. It’s a cool way to interact with each other without the burnout of “over-communicating.” There can be some pressure to compensate for the distance between you two, so you might feel like you have to talk more. But it’s also uncomfortable to feel like you need to have something to talk about. Find other ways to connect! Games via your smartphones work just as well. I’m just not much of a Words with Friends gal.
  7. Read a book, or watch a series together.
    Having your own book club might sound silly, but it’s not. Not only does reading have serious benefits (e.g., better vocabulary, focus & concentration), you now have new things to talk about. Watching a Netflix series works just as well, but I’m a sucker for books. The point is: share experiences even though you’re living apart.
  8. Visit each other.
    Try not to go more than three months without seeing each other. If you can manage to squeeze in a two-day weekend trip, do it! Visits are the best part of a LDR- the excitement you feel as you get closer to seeing them is unparalleled.
  9. Mail!!!
    This is so underrated, but so awesome. Can you imagine checking your mailbox and there’s actually something in there for you other than coupons and CC offers??
  10. Care packages.
    Whether it’s a box of their favorite snacks, or a $2.99 knickknack that reminds you of them- send it! The thought that goes behind sending the package outweighs what they actually receive.
  11. Don’t play power games.
    Eventually the balance will shift. Your partner might not reach out as often as you do, or they may seem busier or more distracted than usual. This might hurt your feelings, but do not fall into that “who can care less” game. The reality is that it’s not always going to be 50/50. Sometimes you have to be the one to put in 51%. You’re in this together, so don’t make it a competition.
  12. Ignore the side chatter.
    I’m dating someone who lives in another state, but on top of that, he’s an athlete- an NFL athlete. Because of that stigma, people find it okay to voice their skepticism about our relationship, but I’ve learned to ignore it. You should too. As long as you both respect and trust each other, who cares! Your relationship is about you and your partner- everything else is just white noise.
  13. X’s on the Calendar.
    This is something that I recently came across. I don’t even know where I read it, or who said it, but it is definitely worth sharing: grab your calendar and X off three random days. On these days, make sure you do something special for your SO. It can be something small or something big, but the point is to be unpredictable. There’s nothing like random acts of kindness.

There’s a proverb that says, “Real gold does not fear the test of fire.” If you and your partner are on the same page about your future together, and there is an abundance of trust, love, and honesty- this chapter in your lives will create an even stronger bond between you both. Eventually you will be together again, but for now you are on this ride, so you might as well make the best of it & get creative!

P.S. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please leave them in the comments. The more, the merrier!

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