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Five Things I’ve Learned from Being in a Long Distance Relationship

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I’m reminded that this is going to be my sixth Thanksgiving day apart from my partner. Frankly, it’s become not that big of a deal to me anymore, although it would be nice to be thankful for it.

I love special days and holidays, and the extra effort it entices others to bring forth towards those special in their lives. I get it, we should aim to do that every day, but as life can consume us with other tasks and follies, it’s great to have those days that call on us to celebrate love.

For those of us apart from our loved ones, the reflection period is drawn out a bit longer. It’s trying to fill a gap that has been diverted through countless miles with the hope that nostalgia and anticipation would build a bridge over.

Here are five things I’ve picked up along this journey:

1. You’ll both figure it out.

Like many things in life, someone who has either walked through it, knows someone who did or has an idea of what it may be like, is somehow now an expert and has a platter of unsolicited opinions waiting to serve you. Especially if it is that their stint with distance failed. Thanks, but no thanks.

Fortunately, life has shown to be unique for us all. So although someone’s situation may be similar to yours, it’s never going to be a replica of just that.

Long-distance relationships are just the same, there’s no one size fits all. So you and your significant other just have to do the work and tackle each day as it comes.

2. Time becomes more precious.

If there’s anything that can teach you the significance of time within a relationship, it’s being physically apart. The time now moves slowly apart and too quickly together. You learn to have a deep appreciation for the hours and days.

This is something I hope I’ll take with me when the time comes when we wrap distance up neatly and tuck it away in our memories; that time together is valuable and precious, and should never be taken for granted.

3. Now is the time to invest in yourself as much as possible.

I despise the notion that being in a relationship somehow means that you’ve lost yourself as an individual. Everyone credits the years of being single is a time to truly find and invest in yourself. I completely agree that that season may allow you time to focus inwards, but the work doesn’t stop when you decide to partner with someone.

Long-distance can be used to your advantage if you see the extra hours you have at your disposal as a time to invest in yourself. No one likes the distance but there are extra hours you now have to yourself in comparison to the amount you may have had if your partner was with you.

Spend more time with friends and family, read more and allow this time apart to be the time you enjoy the simple things on your own.

4. There has to be more than five love languages, for sure.

Let’s just face it, a long-distance relationship easily takes out the physical touch aspect. The other four Gary Chapman credits: quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation and receiving gifts, would need additional work overtime to suffice.

Being able to develop and maintain love languages that work for you is crucial throughout a long-distance relationship. There are gaps that need to be filled, and only you and your partner can show up and love each other as you both desire.

For me, my long-distance love languages would entail: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of support and reliability, giving each other compliments and committed travel time and trips.

If you’re in this boat, you know travel time and trips are a must.

5. A long term goal is needed.

Distance is not the end goal, so creating a plan for the future is essential.

If your love is a seed you intend to nurture, what do you and your partner want it to grow into and what fruits do you want it to bear?

Only you and your partner would know what you want to physically manifest together and individually. The work may not always be easy, but it is something you both have to willingly choose to tend to and be patient with.

The sturdiest and strongest trees don’t grow overnight, after all.

Long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone, but for some of us, it’s the only option we can see. It’s an opportunity that allows us to navigate through one of life’s many roads physically apart, but somehow always intertwined.

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