Hi Rafikis! One question LJ and I get asked a lot is how we made our long-distance relationship work. We had 8,000 miles and an 8 hour time difference between us for the first 8 months of our relationship. While it had a chunk of some downer moments, we both believe that our relationship definitely grew stronger because of it. If you’re currently in a long distance relationship, thinking about going into one or will be doing the distance for some time, we thought we’d share some of the tips that helped us.
Define the Relationship
Knowing where you both stand in the relationship is super important. Unlike traditional relationships, LDRs require you to define the relationship earlier on. Are you exclusive? Are your feelings about each other clear? Do you see a future with this person? LDRs require a huge investment of time (and sometimes money – because flights). LJ and I had never met in person and so all this was done over the phone. However, we quickly knew that we had a special bond and that we saw a future together. We could already see how invested we were in our friendship and we decided to go for it!
Shift your mindset
It is tough being away from someone you care and love deeply. See the distance as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship in the not so conventional ways. For us, the time apart allowed us to appreciate our time together even more. As well, we were able to grow individually. This allowed us to build a life outside our relationship. Learning to have your own back is the most challenging and rewarding journeys that life throws at us. Take the time to get your self-care right. When two people have their individual lives together, they create the most beautiful love.
In a LDR you cannot read your partner’s body language and sensing their emotions might be difficult. You have to let the other person know how you are feeling and what is going through your mind. Communication lets the other partner know that they are a priority to you. Including your partner in your plans, checking in with them and keeping them in the loop regarding your day builds trust and deepens your relationship.
LJ definitely made it easier with how we communicated. Whenever he had to disappear for long periods at a time, he would always alert me. He would video call me throughout the day and send me messages letting me know that he is thinking of me. He made me feel thought of and never once like a secret. Some ways we would elevate our communication were;
Video calling each other throughout the day – We would sometimes call each other just to hang out. We would both be doing our own thing and still see each other in the back ground.
Text each other good morning and good night every single day – Sometimes we would leave each other text messages to wake up to especially because we had a 8-hour time difference between us.
We also made a rule that we would never go to bed upset. We would always workout any disagreement we had before we called it a day. This helped us start every morning on a fresh slate.
Sync Your Calendars
Whenever possible LJ and I would try to do as many activities as we could together. We would try to work out at the same time. Plan and watch the same movie together and sometimes schedule our work times together. The most helpful thing was perhaps that LJ was a morning person and I was a night owl.
Trust is a must
If I was asked to give one long distance relationship advice, it would be to trust your partner.
Love cannot live where there is no trust.Edith Hamiltion
If you started your relationship the way LJ and I did, you will find that it is harder to build the trust and easy to break. Was it always easy? Certainly not! I had people tell me that there was no way our relationship would survive such a distance, that people always betray each other in long distance relationships and if you’re a Kenyan then you will already know this phrase – “Mtaachana tu” (translation: you will leave each other). One thing we both did was deactivate some social media profiles. (You will need more than coffee for this story).
For any relationship to thrive, trust is necessary. It is one of the things that you must learn during your relationship. This is one of my favourite things about having done a Long Distance Relationship. The bond of trust that we built is immensely strong.
Our relationship was waay easier because of the trust we had in each other. LJ did an impeccable job at building the trust and I learnt along the way, how to show him that I trusted him and that I was deserving of his trust. He called when he said he would., he always kept me in the loop and he made me feel like I was part of his life. He did all these things usually without me asking. Always keep your word and the trust will inevitably grow.
Have a plan
LDRs become incredibly difficult when you cannot pinpoint when it will end. (Haha, sounds really similar to the pandemic right?) Factors such as immigration visas, time and money could make this easier for some that others. This was harder for us as finding a time and place when we would meet was proving difficult. We eventually worked it out, you can read more about that here. Having a time frame of when you would like to close the distance makes it much easier to go the distance.
PS: Sometimes this could mean picking fun, new destinations to meet especially if the immigration process for a specific country is complicated. Planning your next adventure is always super fun!
Respect the reason for the distance
This was a hard pill to swallow. It is incredibly important that you do not hold the reason for the distance over the other person’s head. It is hard to keep a level head especially on those days that you just need to see your person. However, remember – your love will outlive the distance.
Stay away from situations that could jeopardise your relationship
Discuss with your partner situations that could put your relationship danger. Create some ground rules as to how such situations will be dealt with and stick to that. This conversation is definitely a more serious and less fun but it is important. It might take a couple of follow up discussions to get this right. Some rules we had were to never go to bed upset, always message each other everyday and as much as possible keep each other in the loop.
Adding onto that discussion, a conversation about what your social media spaces look like is definitely a must have. This ensures that you are not constantly questioning what the other person’s feelings are towards you.
You will find yourself planning the fun more times than not. Find ways for both of you to connect. Play games together – our favourite is Ludo Club. Watch the same Netflix show. Cook the same meal. Go out on a date and video chat each other throughout the date, create a playlist for you both or send care-packages. Learning your partner’s love language definitely plays a role in this. It ensures that you are showing your partner love in a way that they like to receive love. Take the test here. Making the effort to create such a gesture will make your partner feel loved.
Being apart taught us how to be togetherUnknown
Dear me! That just does it! Have you got any tips you’d like to add? We would love to hear what worked out for you! My fingers definitely travelled the distance with this one, haha! Have you got any questions for us? Feel free to email us or let us know in the comment section below. As usual, it was lovely to have you here and looking forward to seeing you in the next one!