Oceans apart: Here’s how one student makes his LDR work
Different friendship groups, fewer shared experiences, and less time for each other - these are big challenges in a long-distance relationship. As for me and my girlfriend, there’s not only five hours’ time difference between us, there’s the Atlantic Ocean too (she's in the States, I’m in Nottingham).
But if you asked me, ‘Are you as good as before?’, my answer would be simple: absolutely. So I'd like to share the things that make our relationship work despite the distance, so yours can work too.
1. Sharing the things that make us happy
People always say you should be true to yourself, but it is also important to be true to your loved one. I always want to share the sparkling moments in my life, such as the footage of cute ducklings quacking together, the Christmas tree and decorations the lovely Unite Students staff put up in our common room, and the kind lady who asked me if I needed help while I looked at the map at a bus stop - that was so nice of her, though I was just looking at the map to pass the time!
2. Knowing that negative feelings are OK
Sharing happy feelings is great, but sharing negative feelings is sometimes even more important. Recently I have been preparing for my PhD application and drafting a research proposal. It’s a real struggle because I have to read a lot to narrow my topic down. Sometimes I just want to delete all the files and play video games forever!
Anyway, I told my girlfriend about my anxiety and guess what happened? Now it feels like both of us are tackling the problem, rather than just me. This gave me the inner peace and strength I needed to keep going.
3. Always being grateful to each other
It’s always worth appreciating that someone cares about you, wants to share their happiness, and spends time talking with you. Whenever I’m feeling down or frustrated, I take a moment to remember I have someone special to be grateful for.
4. Talking about the things we both love
I’m doing English literature while my girlfriend studies international relations and politics. So you can imagine what happens when I try to talk about D.H. Lawrence but my girlfriend wants to discuss the president of America!
Luckily, we both like watching the TV series Friends. We can clearly remember every plot and discuss them in detail - from the linguistic features of their dialogue to huge questions such as, ‘Were Ross and Rachel really on a break?’
5. Being creative with communication
As well as sharing little moments in my life, I also write letters to my girlfriend from time to time. Royal Mail’s regular service normally gets a letter to the States within a week. I quite enjoy this because it’s like preparing a little time capsule, sealing your emotions into that envelope and waiting for it to be opened a week later.
When my girlfriend receives the letter and shares her feelings after reading it, I will also reread the letter and let the memories flash back. It’s interesting to experience my own memory through another person’s perspective - feels like watching a movie!
6. Making the effort on 14th February
In my opinion, the best Valentine’s Day gift for a long-distance relationship, if it’s possible, is travelling to their city to spend the day together. As Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, I’ll fly to reunite with my girlfriend and spend the weekend there!
Not possible this year? Send a handwritten letter and a small but personal gift - a photo or other mementos that remind you both of being together.