real life

14 ways to make long distance work.

Carly with her partner


Love is extremely inconvenient. I’d know. I fell in love with an 18-year-old when I was 22 and we’ve quite casually and completely accidentally been together for 7 whole years. I have no idea how that happened, I was supposed to spend the last seven years on boats in Greece getting lots of hairy cock and STDs but as fate would have it, here I am, living in domestic bliss with a man who still gives me tingles in my nether regions.

Aside from our extraordinary ability to get diarrhoea at exactly the same time, I think our most impressive achievement to date is the survival of our two-year stint in a long distance relationship. Just quietly we found it remarkably easy, but for those of you who struggle, here are a few tips to see you through.

1. Be a planner.

Honestly, a long distance relationship is not going to last if one of you moves 800kms away from the other, neither of you have a car and you have to charter a private jet because airlines don’t fly to Why-The-Frick-Did-I-Move-Here Airport. Before you move discuss your financial situation and work commitments, then figure out how often you need/can see each other. Don’t expect it to all work out because travel is expensive, time-consuming and needs preparation.

2. But be spontaneous.

One day my partner and I really missed each other (a.k.a got really horny), so that night we met in a town in between our two cities, spent a glorious 24 hours in a hotel together, then went back to our respective cities. It was pretty hot. Do this often.

3. Be aware that the first three months are the hardest.

I was a mess in the first three months, broke, unemployed and drowning myself in cheap red wine. We put in some serious ground work in those months, lots of phone calls, extra visits, sending each other packages. Allow yourself the time to be a bit sad and clingy in this phase. It’s really okay.

4. If you are the one who’s leaving…

Be prepared to deal with how alone you may feel. I left my entire support network behind and felt incredibly lost and small without them. I quickly developed a little makeshift family and we’d spend every night together, sharing bottles of nasty plonk and getting way too hammered on weeknights. Make contacts in your new city as soon as you can, you need it.

This is what a long distance relationship looks like.

5. If you are the one who’s staying…

Be aware that things will be slightly emptier. You don’t have all the excitement and adrenalin of a new life, so make sure you actively involve yourself in your partner’s experiences to avoid feeling jealous or left out of their new life. Also, keep busy. Idle hands can make for a very sad brain.

6. Make the commitment.

You either want it to work or you don’t. If you don’t want it to work, it won’t.

7. Treasure your time together.

Try not to spend every weekend together bawling into each others hair as you cling pathetically to the bed like a heart broken sea creature. Moving is, most of the time, self-inflicted. Remind yourself of that and have a good time with your lover while you have the chance.


8. Make sacrifices.

You might have to work a little harder to earn money for plane flights, you might have to miss an important 21st, you might have to take a few days off from work unpaid. Be prepared to make these sacrifices for the sake of your relationship. Although be wary here. If you’re the one constantly forking out for flights and fancy hotels, you might not be much more than a high-class, interstate booty call.

9. Don’t force it.

If it’s been five days and you haven’t contacted each other and you don’t really care, perhaps it’s time to have a chat.

10. Don’t take it too seriously.

I mean come on, you’re not Elizabeth freakin’ Browning. There’s mobile phones, Facetime, Skype, email, Twitter, Facebook, texting, MMS-ing. Quit being a baby. In the days of yore, you wouldn’t hear from your lover for weeks and then you’d get a letter a year later from their sister saying that they died of small pox.

11. Have rules.

Personally, I’m a fan of monogamy but that’s just because I don’t like other people touching my things. If you’re a particularly sex charged couple that can’t last two weeks without some nookie then have some ground rules. I’ve heard of couples having ‘sneaky pash on the dance floor’ rules or ‘no names or numbers’ rules. Just make sure the boundaries are clear before you start playing games.

It’s just not that easy…

When I dramatically announced that I was moving cities and that the Mr and I were embarking upon a potentially tumultuous and difficult long distance romance, most couples nonchalantly shrugged their shoulders at the news and went Oh yeah, we did that back when I was at uni/working interstate/travelling around Europe. It’s not actually a very special or unusual thing to do and most couples will experience it. So don’t be thinking that you’re all modern and cool.

13. Set an end date.

There is nothing worse than open-ended torture. You must have an expiry date set or the relationship will curdle sooner than you think. Imagine running on a treadmill with no idea how long you have to run for. It’s terrifying. Don’t do it to yourself.

14. Realise that it does get better.

In the first few months of our long distance relationship, I was this pasty, sleep deprived mess who’d ugly cry for the entire seven hour interstate car trip home, sipping on my sad little thermos of coffee because I couldn’t afford to buy a takeaway. Two years later I was drinking red wine from a bottle, a self seficient qualified jeweller and freelance writer about to move in with my best friend friend and lover. I hardly recognised the deflated creature I used to be who’d sob in JB Hi Fi when Unchained Melody floated out of the speakers.

Just remember you went long distance for a reason and it was probably a very good reason. It will be hideous for a while but it’s worth it. Don’t fear a long distance love affair – it will strengthen a relationship that is meant to last or it will help you to realise that your relationship might have run its course. Either way it’s a win-win situation in the long run.

Carly Jacobs is the editor of Smaggle and a freelance writer and presenter. Her writing has appeared in Cleo, Cosmoplitan, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She almost got run over by Myf Warhurst whilst out jogging once and natural yogurt is her favourite food. Find her on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? Would you ever try one?

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