Loving From Afar.

Roughly 2 years ago, when I entered into my first ever long distance relationship, I scrolled through a google search of articles, looking for advice, tips, testimonies, anything that made the time apart that tiny bit easier. They helped to prepare me for the reality that is a long distance relationship, and taught me that even when living miles apart, your relationship can still be full of joy, laughter and memories. That’s what I aim to do in this post- reassure you that LDRs are not impossible, and provide some practical tips to make the miles apart feel that bit shorter.

Brett and I never intended on starting a LDR. After denying that we liked each other for almost 10 months, we decided that a summer romance would be fun, and then would go our separate ways when starting our first year of university (granted, not the best of ideas). But when it came down to saying goodbye, we just couldn’t do it. And that’s when we made the decision to intentionally pursue a relationship with each other, whilst living 220(ish) miles apart.

I am thankful that our first goodbye was the hardest, mainly because we had no idea when we would next see each other- and that brings me onto tip number 1.

  • Know when you’re next going to see each other.

You don’t necessarily need to know the exact date, but having an idea of how long until you next see each other makes the goodbye a little easier. It gives you something to look forward to, whilst enjoying where you are when apart from your boyfriend/girlfriend.

  • Communication!

Learning new ways to communicate is one of the most challenging, but also rewarding parts of being in LDR. When on different schedules, it is easy to feel left out of each other’s lives purely because you aren’t always both available to talk at the same time, but establishing some communication techniques early on really help! It could be a good idea to organise when you’re going to skype/call in advance, so you’re not distracted by your phone or wondering when they’re next going to call. One of my favourite things is working out with Brett when we can talk early on in the day- this gives us both the chance to be fully present where we are, whether we are out with friends, studying or spending essential time with Jesus, and then later on we can be fully committed to our time together!

A side point on communication: when you aren’t both together in person, it is easier to hide the way you are feeling behind the computer screen. If something needs to be talked about, make effort to talk about it- bottling things up is so much easier in LDRs, but can stay bottled up and undealt with for a lot longer, leading to lots of damage- learning to be honest in an honouring way is essential, and totally doable!

  • Don’t forget to have fun!

One of our favourite things to do when apart is facetime dates! Every couple of weeks we have a facetime date, where we set apart a period of time, to either talk, watch a movie together, have dinner together, have hot chocolates together… the list goes on! When you’re both doing the same thing, the distance feels a little less distancey… (is that a word? Nope.) Pick something you both love, set aside time and commit to hanging out! It really is so much fun!

  • Make wise choices

It’s simple. Don’t start a more serious conversation at midnight when you’re both tired. Let your boyfriend/girlfriend know if you’re going out that night. Be considerate of their feelings when you make choices. Making a choice to honour your boyfriend/girlfriend is so important, and if they aren’t comfortable with something, honour that- you’re team mates after all! 🙂

  • Learn how you can best love your boyfriend/girlfriend

Every person is unique, and every person feels and expresses love in different ways. This is a tip for all relationships, not necessarily long distance ones- but super crucial when you’re apart. One of the biggest tips I could give is learn your loved ones’ love language. There are 5 love languages (physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and gifts), and although every person can feel all of them, generally we feel most loved by one of them over the others.

For example, my love language is different to Brett’s. For a while, we would express love the way we wanted to feel it, without considering if was the best way to make them feel loved. Brett didn’t realise that my love language was words of affirmation, so when he didn’t “affirm me with words”, I wouldn’t feel as loved. All we needed to do was learn that loving someone means choosing to serve them in the way that best fits their uniqueness as a Son or Daughter.

Why not ask them “how can I serve you right now?” “How can I be praying for you right now?” “What do you need from me right now?”

Sometimes serving each other looks like speaking life over each other, seeking Jesus together, or just simply having a laugh together! Other times the best way to serve each other could be giving them the space to seek Jesus alone, and being completely okay with that. If you ask them, you’ll know best what they need and be able to learn how to best love them.

True, sacrificial love is demonstrated by Jesus’ death and resurrection, and when we understand His sacrifice for us, we are able to demonstrate a true servant heart to our loved ones.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16

For more information on love languages, visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/.

  • Get involved!

Get to know each other’s friendship groups, where they hang out, what they like doing, when you do visit each other! The most challenging thing about long distance (for me) is not the distance, it is the different lifestyles that come with that. I love that not only has Brett included me in his friendship groups from university, but I have actually made my own friendships at his university too. Actively including each other in friendship groups makes the distance a lot easier and starts to build on life together as a couple.

LDRs are not always easy, but when you find someone who you can seek Jesus with, build up and pursue, the person is so worth it!