Long Distance Relationships 101
A crash course on how to deal with a long distance relationship between you and your loved ones. Take a look at our tips and don’t let the distance scare you!
There is no point in saying that long distance relationships are easy to manage. They are hard and take a lot of time and effort. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give them up while you are abroad. It is possible to bring beauty into the relationship, despite the long distance.
Whether you’re leaving behind friends, family or a girlfriend/boyfriend, the relationship will need a bit more conscious commitment on both sides as spending time together won’t be as easy as it used to be when you lived close to each other. And even though it may seem impossible, the long distance may even deepen the bond you already have as it helps you to learn a lot about yourself and your partner. The commitment can seem scary but it pays off and makes all the effort absolutely worth it.
During your Erasmus semester, you might feel far away from your loved ones, not only geographically. Hopefully, with these tips, they will seem to be much closer than you thought they would be during your time abroad.
Learn to communicate
One of the most common mistakes is assuming that the relationship can work exactly the same as it used to when there was no distance. It can’t. You have to talk. If something upsets you, there’s no use in waiting for the other person to notice. Mostly, because it might make you feel even worse. The other person can’t read your emotions as easily just from your voice (or from the pixelated image sent by the camera). You have to talk. That means giving up hope that the other person will just know what’s going on and accepting that all the things that can disrupt the connection, will also disrupt the perception of the other person’s mood.
You should learn how to express yourself, including your thoughts and emotions. It may seem very hard but with time passing, you will get used to it. And you might not get a normal hug back but, the other person will try to comfort you with their words. Which brings me to my next point...
Learn to listen
Conversation is the key to any long distance relationship and listening is the key to any good conversation. Listen to what your close ones are saying and how they’re saying it. People believe there is more than one way to say ‘I love you’. You can say it with words such as ‘Are you okay?’, ‘I thought of you’, ‘I remember you saying it’. If you want the other person to care and be interested in what you have to say, give them the respect of doing the same thing you expect them to do. But...
Give yourself time
Getting used to the long distance can be a lengthy process. Give yourself and the other person time to adjust to the new way of having a relationship. It is hard to go from having someone right in front of you to someone you can only call. Some calls may feel a bit awkward, some may make you miss home, and some may even make you miss the person so much it hurts. Sometimes it will feel like you are very far from your ordinary life, and while it is beautiful to experience something as extraordinary as a semester abroad, it may create some distance between you and the person you’re describing it to. Give yourself time to adjust and accept the new situation. You have to be patient with yourself and the people back home.
Set a date time
It may seem silly at first but it will ease you into the long distance relationship. Erasmus experience can make you forget about everything that is happening back at home. Everything is new and exciting, and it’s easy to tell yourself ‘I will just call the next day’ and then keep forgetting. So, solve the problem ahead - set a date time! Talk to the other person about their timetable and arrange regular Skype calls, for example, every second Sunday of the month. This way you will always get to talk, and you will make it into a habit. You will not forget to call, and you will avoid all the problems that come with setting the next date during a call. You will both know there is a certain date when you both need to to be free to talk to each other.
Find something to do together
I have mentioned talking quite a lot in this article. However, there is another way to make the long-distance relationship fun. You don’t just have to talk; find a way to spend time together. For example, you can watch movies together - you in your Erasmus destination and the other person back at home. Make sure you’re synchronised, and there you go - something as simple as watching a movie together can be done even with all the kilometres dividing you.
Movies aren’t the only way to go. Thanks to the current technological progress, there are way more things you can do together! For instance, check out online multiplayer games and find something that suits you and the other person. I can recommend Hearthstone but if you’re not much into strategic card games, there are plenty of other games you can play.
Talking can be fun and it can be wonderful but having a shared activity brings you much closer and makes it seem like distance is not as big as you initially thought. If you can do fun activities together while being this far away, how far away are you really from each other?
Share what’s happening in your life
I have mentioned that the Erasmus experience can be overwhelming. But it is also very beautiful, and feel free to share it with your loved ones. For the time you spend abroad, it may feel like you’re living a separate life - one that is nothing like you have had before. It is an amazing adventure, and you will for sure record it with pictures or videos. Send a few to your close ones back home. Let them know you think about them and make them feel like they’re still a part of your life. Share what’s happening with you, whether you tried out a new delicious meal, climbed a mountain or took a swim in the sea. Encourage your loved ones to send you pictures too: I’m sure you’ll be happy to know what is happening back at home. Also, please remember: things you share don’t have to be big; even little parts of your new reality can be found as interesting as the big ones if you introduce them right!
Help with the visits
Your friends, family or your significant other will for sure tell you that they would like to come and visit you. However, time flies by very fast, and your loved ones may miss an opportunity to see you in your Erasmus city. So don’t just wait for them to make a move - be proactive! Help them plan the visit, maybe even look for flights yourself. Be encouraging and helpful, and make sure they know they’re not alone in planning everything. Be a part of their visit even before they come to you!
Relationships are hard no matter where you are and the distance between you. They always take effort and commitment. And while the long distance does seem scary, it is not bound to affect the bond you have negatively. You just need to be more open than usual, be more attentive. It will all come back to you in caring words and the same openness and attentiveness. And if we care enough, well… a little distance never killed nobody.