Long Distance Long-Term: A Survival Guide From a Seasoned Professional
“Wow, there’s no way I could do that!”
“It’s been a whole year since you’ve seen each other?”
“Do you really have a boyfriend if he’s not even here?”
“Wait, how do you…” *looks around* “…like, get off?”
Folk, welcome to Real Things I’ve Heard When I Mention My Long-Distance Relationship. Often over a coffee, or sometimes on my morning commute, most people feel qualified to give me their opinion on how they feel about long distance. I don’t really mind – it’s been this way ever since I started dating a Danish man. I would brush it off by saying, “Oh, we see each other every couple of months,” and, “When we’re together, we’re together 24/7.”
I was almost good at it (minus the part where I’d cry for three days every time my boyfriend hopped on a plane back to Denmark). So when COVID hit and Australia’s international border locked down, it was like our previous three years apart were just practice.
Nobody asked, but here are my top tips for surviving long-distance long-term.
Have Date Nights
This is the quintessential tip that everyone got given when lockdown first hit. It made me laugh, because it’s absolutely not as easy as it sounds.
Due to the time difference between my partner and I, our usual call time is my evening and his morning. This makes it hard to cook the same meal or drink cocktails together – besides, who wants to hear the high-def sounds of their significant other chewing through their air-pods while trying to have a conversation?
We do, however, like watching TV series together. Our favourite way to go about this is by using Teleparty, which is an app that allows you to sync your streaming services so you can watch your show at the same time (forget trying to hit your play button at the same time). We usually face-time while we watch because it’s more fun that way.
We’ve also transcended embarrassment when it comes to video-calling in public. We take each other for walks and out for coffee, and point out every dog that goes by while we’re at it (that last one is only me, actually).
Send each other gifts
When you can’t show your love through cuddles or cooking dinner, this can be a good way to show someone that you care. Flowers and cupcakes are always a hit, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve sent letters full of printed photos before, as well as UberEats vouchers if someone is having a stressful week.
Share your hobbies
Talking on the phone every day for 20 to 90 minutes can actually be quite tricky. I found it especially difficult during the most monotonous days of lockdown – I would often have nothing to say, because nothing was new or different. And that’s okay. Something that helps is having a topic to centre your conversation around – read the same book, knit together, watch the same movie apart and come back and talk about it. When video-calling it’s easy to feel pressure to talk for every second, but that’s not the only way to spend quality time with someone you love.
Invest in your sex life
Send the pictures. Buy the toys. Do the dirty talk. This is by far the biggest hurdle of long-distance. Space robs you of the ability to be physical. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be intimate – and boy, has technology come a long way. There are sex toys that connect to Bluetooth which give your partner control from literally the other side of the world. There are plenty of options – like the Lovense Nora and Max – but I say, have some fun, do some research together, you never know what you’ll find.
Be sad together
Sometimes all there is to do is sit down and acknowledge that distance sucks. It comes in waves – my partner and I take turns. But this is something we can support each other with because we both know exactly how shit it can be.
This sounds like avoiding the problem. It 100% is. But if you are a fellow pragmatist – like myself – then you know we have better things to do with our time than miss our partners. Study, learn, work three jobs, become a business owner, run a marathon, make new friends. Set goals, do whatever it is that makes you happy when you are by yourself because, as previously stated, being sad sucks. It also makes the distance so much easier to deal with.
Cover by Ben Collins