This is something that I’ve been wanting to share for a while but I’ve hesitated because it’s pretty personal to me. However, a lot of people have asked me about it so I figured it was time to share. Before I start I want to first say that all relationships are different. It’s all about the personalities of the two partners. Things I say here might not apply to everyone, and that’s okay. Second, before Chad moved away he and I spent about a year together, basically together every.single.day. (yes, we were that couple) so you could say this affected things a bit. Lastly, I understand and realize that a lot of these points are things I should’ve already known, however, it’s kinda hard to think logically when you’re in love and you’re pretty much spending every waking moment together. Anyways, let’s get to it:
- Trust is not just an important factor in a relationship, it’s vital.
I say this because it’s easy to trust your partner when you see them every day, your friends are their friends, and you know everything that goes on in their day/lives. I noticed this when college came and he began to create a whole new world entirely different from the one we had previously shared. He was out there meeting new people, making new friends, getting comfortable in different places, making something else his home. My female instinct was to be worried and wonder who were the girls living on his floor (his dorm is co-ed,) if he was hanging out with the right kinds of people, who he was going out with at night, etc. etc. And if I would’ve fed into that I think I would’ve gone mad, and the relationship would’ve quickly deteriorated. Not only is it personally unhealthy to be worried/doubtful/frantic/suspicious about your partner’s behavior, but it’s also draining for them. Trusting each other unconditionally is and has been the foundation for our relationship, as it should be for everybody.
- You have to let them make their own mistakes.
Okay I know some of you girls feel me on this one. You only want what’s best for them, you think you know what that is, the motherly instincts kick in and before you know it, you’re giving your boyfriend a lecture that sounds a little too much like ones your mother gives you. “Don’t you think it’s a little late to go out?” “You’re still drinking?” “Can’t you just eat breakfast for once?” You know how it is. This came so naturally to me I didn’t even realize that this was far from harmless. I eventually had to realize that he is a grown adult. I am not his mother. And if he wants to make dumb decisions he should be learning from those on his own through his experiences–not through his girlfriend. Learning from your mistakes is ultimately the best teacher you’ll encounter in life and I decided to stop getting in the way of that. This has actually ridden me of a lot of potential bad moods and worries because at the end of the day he’s a big boy and it’s really not my job to protect him so much. This brings me to my next point:
- You should never, ever, ever try to control them. Even if you’re doing it subconsciously.
I think it’s actually human nature to want to control things that are important to us, we want to protect these things and make sure we keep them, you know? However, this is probably the worst thing you could do in a relationship. At the end of the day, every individual (boy or girl) will do whatever they want to do regardless of what anybody says or thinks. I’ve never been the type to tell my boyfriend what he can/can’t do and even with the long distance. BUT, I would do the whole passive aggressive text little different or be like “ooh, really? you’re doing that?” judgy-kind-of-thing. And this did nothing but create awkward tension and bring negative energy into the mood. I had to learn that at the end of the day, they were his decisions and I should respect them, even if I didn’t agree.
- You can not and should not try to be their only friend. (and Vise-Versa)
I know it’s easy to want to have your partner all to yourself but in reality, it’s not healthy for either of you. I never realized how crucial it was to let them have their own friends until he got to college. Friendships and making connections with people is such a large and meaningful part of life and neglecting them of that does a lot more harm than you think. So don’t roll your eyes when it’s a ‘boy’s night’ or when he already has plans made when you ask him to hang out. There’s plenty of him to go around. This was almost tempting for me to get caught up in because seeing him came so rarely so whenever I did see him I wanted him all to myself, but meeting and hanging out with him and all of his new friends as a group has been one of the most enjoyable parts of having a long distance relationship. This goes both ways, it’s important to have my own friends, my girl nights and to spend time with people other than him.
- Time is precious.
This is an odd one because I obviously knew spending time together was important before, but when we became constricted of that it really changed my perspective of quality time. I learned there was a difference between being together and being fully present at all times. This point actually helped me improve my relationships with other people, not just my boyfriend. If you’re noticing that you haven’t been very present lately try staying off your phone, it was one of my biggest problems. Other things I’ve noticed that really draw presence are eye contact, asking more questions, going to new places, talking about things you haven’t before, and cutting the plans and doing nothing.
- His female friends can be yours too, keep an open mind.
It’s easy to instinctively distrust every female that comes your boyfriend’s way, and I have to admit I still think there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to having friends of the opposite sex. However, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have any. The girls Chad has befriended in college are some of the sweetest I’ve ever met, some of which have asked me to hang out without him even there. It would’ve been easy for me to stay close-minded and give dirty looks and roll my eyes when they came around, but I’m enjoying being friends with them a lot more. Doing so not only strengthens your trust but also lets them know you respect their decision-making and judge of character.
- You do not need to be glued to your phone 24/7 in order to maintain a healthy relationship.
Just because you’re not texting continuously throughout the day doesn’t mean he’s ignoring you. Before he moved we never texted a lot anyway, but only because we were always together. When he moved we quickly realized that we were on two separate schedules, so we weren’t in constant contact throughout the day every single day. If we decided to pay attention to response times and whatnot it would’ve been an absolute mess. Sometimes I reply an hour late, sometimes he 2 hours, other times 2 or 3 minutes. It all depends–and it’s never on purpose. My biggest advice on this would be to stop overthinking, and trust that you are on his mind as much as he’s in yours. Once you both understand this and don’t feel the need to carry a text thread throughout the day it’s a huge weight off your shoulders and you don’t have to be trying to multi-task all day.
- Perspective is actually the key to almost everything.
I promise living by this has changed my life. This wasn’t necessarily a long distance realization, but our long distance relationship has definitely exercised this concept. The next time you are about to get upset or angry with your significant other, put yourself in their shoes. Even if they messed up, even if you think you did nothing wrong, even if you don’t want to. (And I mean really put yourself in their exact situation–what they could have been thinking, what they could have been feeling, what could have influenced their decision, everything). 99.99% of the times I do this, my feelings change. This was really helpful to us because for the first time in our relationship we were in two different worlds, and we needed to adjust our perspectives to understand each other’s situations a little bit more.
- Long distance isn’t a bad thing.
When I first found out he was leaving I was upset, to say the least. But as time progressed I realized what a gift it had become. Chad and I are getting the chance to grow individually. He gets to have his own friends, his own life, his own schedule…and so do I. We are currently in a stage of our lives where we need to be selfish–pursue our own goals, dreams, ambitions. I know that if we went to the same school we would be wanting to hang out every single day, and sure that would be fun for us but would it really be beneficial? I don’t think so. At the end of the day, we’re still growing together. We’re still putting effort towards each other, we’re getting excited and beginning countdowns until the next time we see each other, we’re introducing each other to all of our friends, all of it. Except for this time we’re doing it in a controlled manner. This has not only allowed us to mature personally, but it has made our relationship more mature as well and it has really shown us how important this is for both of us.
I hope this helped some of you long-distancers, or calmed some of you who are about to part because of college. I promise it’s not as bad as you think, and the first few weeks are the hardest by far. Keep in mind that you will succeed as much as you both are willing to. And lastly, remember to make the most of this stage in your lives, even if it’s not ideal–there will be plenty.