Have you ever felt worried or nervous that your long distance relationship wouldn’t work out? Or maybe you've had people make you feel like it isn’t possible?
There have been a couple of times in my life where people made me feel like I was a lunatic for believing in love across the sea. I don’t really know why people do this to couples in long-distance relationships.
I am here today as proof that long distance relationships do indeed work. When my husband and I were in a long-distance relationship for about five and a half years. We are finally in the same country and are no longer separated by the ocean. We made the long-distance relationship work.
It's possible for you too.
I'd like to share our ABCs to making a long-distance relationship thrive.
A is for Attitude…
Thriving in your long-distance relationship comes down to your attitude and how you speak to your loved one and how you speak about him/or her when you aren’t around them.
How we kept a good attitude:
It was vital in our relationship that we stayed positive. I’d look for the positive in the moment I found myself in. Enjoy the moment you are in—here and now.
B is for Believe…
You need to believe in your relationship and what you’re working toward. There are plenty of people in the world, who will try to make you feel like what you are fighting for isn’t worth it. Believe in yourself and your relationship. Know that for certain.
How we believed:
Once I met this lady and she asked me why my boyfriend was in Australia. I kindly responded with, “He is finishing up school there.”
“Oh, was he just studying there?” She asked.
“No, he actually lives there,” I responded.
“Ohh….” She said, opening her eyes wide. A judgy look came across her face as she said, “Thank goodness my daughter didn’t fall in love with someone when she went abroad.”
Those kinds of comments sting. Here we were fighting to make our relationship work and then a stranger comes along and gives me the stink eye with some rude words. It’s crazy how those kinds of comments hurt, but I had to stay positive about my relationship… because If I didn’t who would? And that's the same for you. You have to stay positive, because if you don't who will.
C is for Communication…
Set up a regular time to chat face to face. Johan (Yo-hun) and I spent many hours Skyping and Facetiming. Also, make sure you give them the best of your time.
How we communicated:
Toward the end of our Long-Distance Relationship before Johan came to America, I was really busy with work and wedding planning. So much that I wasn’t able to chat until 10pm or even later on some days. This wasn’t good because it made Johan feel like I didn’t care about giving him quality time.
We spoke about it and then decided how to fix things. It really helped. Using communication to improve your communication really helps. Talk to each other about things that need to be improved or worked on.
Make sure you:
Set up a time on your calendar where you can both come together to talk about your day.
Don’t chat too early or too late. It’s so easy to have misunderstandings when you’re tired, which we all know is an easy time where fights could enter.
D is for Dream…
Dream about what your life will be like together. But, don’t just dream.
It’s super important that you figure out the end result. It’s not really ever the easiest conversation. I know it wasn't for us. If you don’t figure these things out you’ll feel like you are never moving toward the ultimate goal where you’ll both be together. Being together is the ultimate goal in a long-distance relationship.
How we dreamt:
We sat down pretty early in our relationship to figure out how many years it would be until we’d be able to get married. We figured out that we’d wait until he finished school, which landed us in 2016.
Yes, at first that seemed like a long stretch goal, but we had to make it work.
So it’s important that you figure these things out:
Are we going to get married?
When will we finally be together?
What do we have to go through in order to be together? (Example: visas, green cards, and immigration)
Who is going to move where?
E is for Encouragement –
In long-distance relationships kind words always make thingsrun smoother. But, sometimes when all you need is a hug, it can be super difficult especially if you are a hugger.
So make a habit of encouraging your partner. Encouragement is like a verbal hug.
How we encouraged each other:
There were many times in our relationship when a hug would have really helped encourage each other. But, as you all know that isn’t possible when it comes to long-distance relationships unless of course, they have created a teleportation app for your phone. My guess is though, that hasn't been designed yet.
Johan was finishing up university as an architect student. If you are or know an architecture student you know that it’s a stressful degree filled with a lot of hard work.
I encouraged him with words and also tried helping in any way that I could. In 2012, I was in Australia and helped Johan finish a project by tracing things. I was helping him but felt like I wasn’t being too helpful. The thought is what truly counts.
Food for thought: Everyday ask yourself this question: “What can I do to encourage my partner today?”
F is for Fighting –
Yup, fighting happens. The important thing is that you talk about the fights and disagreements. Try to understand each other's point of views. Definitely don’t wait too long to fix a blow-up.
Word to the wise: there are two different kinds of people in the world. There are the Dead Seas and the Babbling Brooks. If you are one of those lucky people who got a partner that is the opposite of you, then you need to learn how to talk to each other. Johan and I aren't the same. I'm the babbling brook and Johan is the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea - They need time to think about arguments
The Babbling Brook - They want to talk about it right away so they can feel better about it.
Whichever you are, make sure you respect your partner and get the problem figured out as fast as you can.
How we dealt with fights:
Fights and arguments happen, but they are never fun. Ever. I found most of our fights happened when we were either tired, sleepy, or tuckered out. Guess those are all words for being tired.
Number one rule: No fighting after 9pm.
Number two rule: If you are fighting and it's getting close to 9pm, set a time that you can regroup and talk about it calmly.
G is for Goals –
Make sure you set short term goals for when you see each other next. If you both have things to look forward to it won’t seem as long.
Some things you can plan for:
What are some ways we could meet up?
Where could we meet up?
What are some things we could do together?
How we set goals: Johan and I spent a lot of our time together on small trips or doing fun activities. When you are apart from each other you’ll have amazing memories to get you through the tough times.
H is for Help –
Get help from people around you who believe in you and your long distance relationship. It’s like setting up a safety network.
Who can I trust with these things?
Find someone who, after speaking with them, makes you feel like you could conquer the world with your partner.
How we found help:
My mom was super helpful in encouraging Johan and me in our relationship. We are so happy she was able to listen and inspire us to move forward.
I is for Inspire –
Be your partner’s biggest inspiration. Encourage them in their dreams and goals. Tell them that they can do it. Give them ideas.
Share interest in the things they are interested in. They will love you more for it.
How we inspired each other:
As you all might know, I (Devin) am a writer and I love writing fictional stories. Johan once made me something from the book I’d written and gave it to me for my birthday. I remember crying huge tears. Good ones. He’s also created covers for my books to inspire me forward in my writing.
J is for Jump –
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith in your long-distance relationship because you aren’t always going to have the answers for it.
How we jumped:
There are quite a few times that we had to jump. In the beginning of our relationship, we decided to take a stab at the whole long-distance relationship thing. There were also times where we didn’t know who was going to move where, but we tried staying positive amidst that knowing that we loved each other no matter what.
K is for Kindness –
Speak with kindness to your partner. Try not to tell them everything that they need to fix. Share with them what they are doing right. There is a shortness in the world of kind words.
How we showed kindness:
Johan always sent me little text messages with pictures of beautiful flowers. Throughout the day it was just nice to receive little messages or pictures showing you that your love was thinking of you.
Also, Johan sent me real flowers and chocolate. It really showed he was thinking of me and it really surprised me.
L is for Loyalty –
If you want your long-distance relationship to work you must stay loyal to your partner and not put it in a compromising situation.
How we stayed loyal:
Johan and I are both very loyal people and wouldn’t put ourselves in compromising situations.
If there was ever a moment where one of us felt like the other was treading in dangerous waters we’d bring it out to one another as kind requests.
M is for Money –
It needs to be said. In a long-distance relationship, you are going to need some money. There are times you are going to have to go with little so that you can save up for travel tickets. That might mean not going to movies as much, because your ultimate goal is to go see your partner.
How we dealt with money –
There were times in our relationship across the ocean where one of us or both of us didn’t have a job. This is super hard especially when the only way you’ll get to see your partner is by purchasing a $1,000 ticket to fly across the world.
One thing that really helped Johan earn some cash was through Uber.
N is for Notify –
Let your partner know if you are struggling with something or let them know if you are having a tough day.
How we notified:
Whenever I was having a tough day I’d chat with Johan and tell him about what was troubling me.
O is for Optimism –
Stay optimistic in your relationship. It’s one of the most important factors that will keep the heart pumping in your relationship. Always look for the sunbeams in the sky. Give up on looking for the garbage in the ditch. Start looking for the flowers growing amidst the landfill.
How we stayed optimistic:
I really loved it when Johan sent me uplifting text messages. It made me so happy knowing that someone really truly loved me and cared about me.
P is for Present –
Enjoy where you are at this very moment. Appreciate what you are currently doing. There will never be a time like this moment ever again. So enjoy and love the moments that you are currently in.
How we enjoyed the present:
There are many times when one of us would say to the other “I wish three months could have passed already so we could be together already.”
While that’s a nice gesture that you want to be together in three months time, it’s still not good to wish your time away.
We would then remind each other that we need to enjoy the moment we are in. That we need to enjoy the time with our parents and to work hard toward our goals.
Q is for Quality –
When you guys get together, spend quality time together.
How we spent quality time together:
We’d take road trips. Even just small ones. We'd go out on the road to new places during the weekends. During the week, we’d go for walks in the morning and at night. Sometimes we’d even do some small little trips to the beach or movie theater.
R is for Right –
Don’t always try to be “Right” in your relationship. Don’t say something just to say the last word. This has been something that I've struggled with in my life as my parents used to sayi could argue with a rock, and win. It’s better, Instead to have open communication like an adult.
How we worked on “right”:
Sometimes it’s been difficult to not have the last word. It’s easier to brush it off your shoulders and to continue the conversation.
S is for Surprise –
It’s important to surprise your partner. Surprises always make things interesting.
How we surprised each other:
Johan planned out a surprise visit with my parents. He flew over to America and surprised me at the airport. Then he also fit in a surprise proposal. We’ll talk more about that and surprising your partner in another chapter. It was like a fairytale.
T is for Trust –
You have to trust your partner especially if you are in a long-distance relationship. If you can’t trust each other then you are going to have problems.
How we trusted each other:
We just sat back and trusted each other. I know that might sound crazy to some people. But honestly trust is having a reliability on someone else and that they won’t hurt you.
If you are worried about being hurt, sit down and have a discussion with your partner about it.
U is for Unicorns –
Yes, I actually wrote unicorn there. Unicorns are magical and unique things that take place in your life. Look for things that sparkle and shine in your life as a couple.
How we spotted unicorns:
There were times that Johan sent me letters or packages. It brightened up my day whenever I got something from him via snail mail.
One time I created a puzzle with a photograph of us on it. Then I sent him a multitude of letters with 2-5 puzzle pieces in them. (I’d written a message on the back of the puzzle as well so the only way he’d get to read the whole message was if he put all the pieces together.
V is for Victories –
Celebrate the small and large victories. There are plenty of small victories.
How we celebrated the victories:
When we celebrated victories, we'd maybe make supper together or I'd make supper and he'd make breakfast. We'd talk and laugh, while enjoying the small and big victories.
W is for Win –
Don’t try to win arguments. Try to win at your relationship. Every time you stop trying to win arguments you win at your relationship.
How we won:
We are still together. :) And whenever we have fights we still try to win at our relationship.
How you can win your relationship too:
The secret sauce to winning at your relationship is to focus on each other. Don’t focus on being right.
X is for X Marks The Spot –
It was difficult to find a word for “X”. But X marks the spot reverts to treasure. Pirates always were looking for buried treasures. Be a treasure seeker in your relationship. Look for the good things in your partner and tell them what those things are. Look for the good things he is doing and find a way to mention it so he knows you see it.
Y is for Yolo –
You only live once. Every human being only has one life.
Live each day as though it were your last. Show your partner that you cherish them.
How we yolo:
At the very beginning of our relationship, we decided to make a jump for the long-distance relationship. We knew that we only had one life so why not make a jump toward each other over the sea. And it worked.
Z is for Zazz –
Keep your relationship interesting. Do special things for each other to show how much you care and love your partner.
How we created zazz:
Once I wrote out a bunch hints on post-it notes and then went into the grocery store.
I texted Johan a message: “Come into the store. Find the _____ section for your next clue. You always warm my heart.”
Then in what ever aisle I wanted him to come to, I’d put a sticky note on the food item that he’d find. On that sticky note I had written a special message just for him to bring him to the next clue.
He really enjoyed this and has mentioned it countless times in the past.
All in all, long-distance relationships can be difficult, but when they are given a little tender loving care, they have the ability to shine and sparkle giving joy and happiness to both people involved in the relationship. It also sets your relationship lighthouse on full-brightness so that other people in long-distance relationships can find healing and happiness. You become a role model to others in relationships when you make something like this workout.