Dear Harpies: My boyfriend got hired by Giant Tech Behemoth for a summer internship, which is awesome for him career-wise. But it means we’ll be long-distance for 3 months, which is the longest we’ve been apart since the very beginning of our relationship.
So, question #1: LDR tips? Also, as an unintended side effect of this situation that is both exciting and scary, I will be living alone as an adult (ie, not in a dorm) for the first time in my life.
Question #2: How do I make that totally awesome? What are some things I definitely should do? I want to take this summer to refresh my independent-ass kickin’-lady skills since I’ve been living with Boyfriend for so long and haven’t ever tried this “adulthood” thing without him around.
BeckySharper: Three months is not really that long in the grand scheme of things, so you should be fine emotionally if you do the usual intimacy-maintenance stuff, by talking on the phone or Skype or IM, sending e-mails and texts, etc. When I think back to my college LD relationship in the pre-internet days—I was in Virginia, he was in Ontario—I marvel at how we managed to stay together for a year entirely thanks to Canada Post and US Mail (we almost never talked on the phone because it was so expensive). The internet enables such better contact it’s like night and day, so make liberal use of it!
In my humble opinion, v-chat is where it’s at. If you don’t have Skype—get it! It costs nothing and runs better than video gchat. I was in a LDR most of last year with someone who lived 6,000 miles away and Skype enabled me to see his face, hear his voice, and occasionally pick up my laptop and move it around to show him stuff around my house. Also, Skype sex. SRSLY.
PhDork: I did the LDR thing with the Dude for about a year, after living together for two. I had two short-term jobs that took me to new places where I lived in hotels and dorms and such.
This was about a decade ago, so we had the imbernets, but not Skype or any kind of video chat. No FB, or even Friendster (remember that?). No cell phone for 3/4s of that time, either. Just plain ol’ email and landlines. And while those were important for regular keeping-it-touch, we sent snail mail a lot. Love poems, mix tapes (yes, TAPES, ’cause we are Olds, to whom mix tapes are a crucial courting device). Long handwritten letters full of lust and longing.
We arranged for visits, too, probably four or so over the course of a year. Which was tough to arrange and expensive, but a big help, since I am not a fan of techno-sex of the phone or web varieties (it feels very fakey and performance-y for me, which: ladybonerkiller!). But sex toys and time to use them were important.
Now during that time, I kept busy because I was working these gigs, and meeting lots of new people, learning stuff. Keeping busy is important, so that you don’t have a chance to mire in mopery. You will feel sad and lonely at times–that’s totally normal and expected–but if you have places to be and people to meet, you can keep yourself going.
BeckySharper: The answer to Question #2: “how do I make this awesome?” is “however the fuck you want!” There’s a lot to be said for the single life, be it temporary or permanent. It’s fun to be selfish and do only what pleases and inspires you, without having to accommodate someone else. See this three months as a chance to do that, and don’t feel guilty about it!
I think the key to not feeling lonely or mope-y is to stay busy and take advantage of the chance to do all the things you wouldn’t do otherwise. If you’re a homebody, like I am, being alone at home can be divine after all that time spent compromising with your mate over what to eat, what to watch on TV, whose turn it is to clean up. Eat whatever you want. Cook whatever you want. Clean up when you feel like it. Have friends over to the house to hang out and have movie nights—the house is ALL YOURS! Or stay out late with them! Your schedule is ALL YOURS! This is a chance for you to socialize with friends all by yourself, without worrying about whether your social plans are convenient or interesting for your boyfriend.
Or if you’re not as much of a homebody—road trip! Get together a group trip with friends, even if it’s just to the next town over. Or travel by yourself. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Enjoy the freedom of having to plan it for no one but yourself on your own timetable according to your own tastes.
Then, when he comes back, you can tell him what you’ve been up to, enjoy some hot reunion sex, and—who knows?—maybe you’ll have new insights about yourself and your relationship and things you can do together.
PhDork: Think of the stuff that you love to do that your fella is less crazy about. I love to clean and organize things, purge stuff. The Dude decidedly does not. I also explored the towns I was living in (both were new to me), watched a lot of cable at one of them, since I’d never had it before, and got involved in some group activities. I read A LOT. Cooked a lot. It would have been a good time (had I been “at home”) to do projects–home improvement, learning new stuff, picking up a hobby I’d neglected.
Eat ice cream for breakfast at noon and indulge your obsession with online puzzle games, or whatever. Plan a surprise welcome home party for him. Invest in a good box wine, since opening a bottle for one guarantees headaches. Take care of yourself.
Anyone else been in a LDR and want to chime in? We know you’ve got some good advice and tips…