I haven’t seen my significant other this summer, save the one day after I returned from six weeks in Europe and the day before he left for the same continent.
My summer hours any other year would have consisted of an equal amount of reading, exploring, enjoying the sunshine, and getting in some part-time work or volunteering. This year, however, Skype wins.
I’ve spent an average of two hours per day talking via Skype.
At the beginning of June, I talked about the Van Gogh museum on a houseboat in Amsterdam, sipping on hot tea before bed while he finished lunch and told me about the weather in San Diego. At the beginning of August, he was falling asleep, tired from the physical exertion of running the Italian Alps as I droned on about having my wisdom teeth removed.
While we’ve had our share of moodiness, irritability and frustration (for both parties,) we’ve managed to nurture, even grow, our relationship, rather than stall it at the beginning of June, letting it fester over the summer.
1. We want to talk to each other, and make it a priority.
Before leaving, we talked about the probability of how often we’d be talking. Taking into consideration such things as time zone differences, work schedules, training plans, and internet connection before you’re apart ensures that you’re on the same page about how often you’ll be communicating.
2. We try to keep in touch the old fashioned way, via postcards and packages.
Unfortunately, mail going from Europe to the US has been much quicker than mail traveling from the US to Europe. Plan for your mail to take longer than expected, and realize that in some areas, the house name is just as crucial as the address, if the recipient is living or renting a house/apartment. Even simple letters, with a quick “I miss you,” can be a wonderful reminder of who’s waiting for you at home.
3. We realize that emotions and moods exist and fluctuate.
As someone who can be extremely sensitive, it’s important than my partner realizes that my feelings are happening because of things that are happening at home, and not because of something that he has done. Communication, as I have learned, is absolutely vital in long distance relationships, no matter the duration.
That said, there are times when maturity plays a huge role. Realizing that you are in control of your emotions is helpful when trying to listen to your partner. Give each other the time and really hear what your partner is saying.
4. We like to surprise each other
Email each other songs that make you think of your significant other, screen share pictures of what you’ve seen and been doing, and try writing some poems. For the less poetically inclined couple, sending inspirational quotes or articles that you’ve found fascinating can be a nice break from the typical “how are you doing?” conversation.
5. We express our love…a lot
Without physical affection, showing your love takes that much more work and at times leaves room for (silly) doubt. Reaffirm your love for your partner, even with a simple “I’m thinking about you” email.
A few days after my partner returns, we’ll be celebrating our one year anniversary. I was certain that our relationship would be stuck where we had left it when we parted at the Los Angeles International airport, but I think we’ve actually grown during our time apart.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman