Campus Life
5 tips for surviving a long-distance relationship
by Ally Buso | February 8, 2019

They are waiting for you on the other side, just as you are waiting for them.

I started dating my partner, Stew, three years ago on December 25, 2015 (yes, our anniversary is actually on Christmas). Our time together has included some of the best and worst moments of my life. Many of those happened in the year and a half that we have spent apart while he was living in England and I was living in Toronto.


Ally and Stew


In between the best and the worst has been a kaleidoscope of moments that keep me going until I am able to see him again. Little things I would do for myself or with him remotely have made the time apart seem slightly more bearable.

Despite knowing what to expect from a previous long-distance relationship, my current reality diverged so completely from my prior experience. Using my past as a guide was utterly unhelpful.  

It took some time to orient myself with being on my own. This was effectively the first time I had been alone for this long since I started to date at the age of 17 (I’m 22 now). I’m not going to sugarcoat it: long distance relationships are hard. Not everyone is able to do them successfully and many refuse to try it. I don’t blame those people in the slightest. I have spent more sleepless nights than I can count where I questioned the future of our relationship and asked myself if it was even worth it.

Despite my doubts, Stew and I are now on the final leg of our time apart which will be over in June 2019. Throughout these last two years, people have often asked how we are able to make it work.

Stew and I put our heads together and came up with our five survival tips for making a long-distance relationship work:


1. Communication


This suggestion may seem obvious, but one of the most common reasons relationships end is a communication breakdown. Communication is vital in a long distance relationship. Doubts and bad days happen. You need to be able to have an open and honest dialogue with your partner if there is something wrong. You no longer have the benefit of them noticing something’s off based on your body language.

Stew and I always ensure that we talk on the phone at least once and text multiple times throughout the day. I’m not saying everyone has to talk to their partner quite that often (we are used to talking often and it feels wrong if we don’t), however, make sure to put in a concerted effort to talk to them at least 4-5 times a week. They need to know you are thinking about them. Even if you don’t have anything super exciting to talk about, the fact you are willing to set aside time for them, shows they are a priority. This is especially true when there is a time difference because extra planning goes into each call.


2. Show your significant other you care

Ally and Stew standing in front of a heart-shaped grotto

Distance complicates everything, including doing nice things for your partner. Ensuring you put in that extra effort to make sure they know you still care and are thinking about them makes a world of difference. Any doubts are magnified 1000% in your mind when you’re separated by that much time and space. There are a ton of little things you can do to show your partner you are thinking about them. Something as simple as a good morning text can brighten their day before they have even gotten out of bed.

I recommend you continue going on dates. It takes a little bit of creativity to find what works best for you. Stew and I watch a lot of movies together as a way of passing the time. We found this great website that works much like Skype except you can have a movie, TV show or YouTube video playing at the same time.

My vice is spending a lot of money at nice restaurants. This is something I love to do with my partner. But we haven’t let the distance stop us from having food adventures together! I will bring either my phone or laptop to different restaurants and set it up opposite me and we will chat on Skype while I eat.


3. Visits

view from a plane window

Always be in the process of planning your next visit. Even if you’re not positive when you’re going to able to see them next, or can’t afford to buy tickets right away, it’s important to have a general idea of when it’s going to be. I have a countdown on my calendar that I see whenever I sit at my desk at home. Every morning I cross off each day that passes. After a while, it helps to give you a sense of time passing seeing the increasing number of ‘Xs.’  


4. Keep thinking long-term

Ally and Stew


This is one I personally have the hardest time with. When Stew told me he got accepted to law school, at first we shared in his excitement. But then I felt a cold sliver of fear in the pit of my stomach. I knew what his move would mean for me—we would have to spend a long time apart. At the time, being alone was my greatest fear.

However, I later came to realize he was going to law school, not just because he wanted to pursue his dream, but so he would be able to help provide us both with the life we’ve always wanted together.

Couples who decide to pursue a long distance relationship are those who are truly committed to each other. It is easy to give in when faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. To those of us who decided to take a chance and push back against impossible odds, we have to remember that we are doing it for a reason. Even when it seems the most hopeless, that is what you must always remember.

They are waiting for you on the other side, just as you are waiting for them.


5. Always leave on a high note

Ally and Stew sticking their tongues out


I once asked my grandmother how she and my grandfather managed to stay married for 53 years before my grandfather’s untimely passing in 2006. The advice she gave me was to, “never go to bed angry”. It may be a bit cliché, but I have tried my hardest to live by this rule in all facets of my relationship.

Applying this to a long distance relationship essentially means making sure that every interaction Stew and I have together is a happy one. We always try and end every conversation on a high note. At the end of each call, we have a ritual of saying, “I love you, have a good sleep,” and blowing kisses at each other. We usually plan to talk the next day or whenever either one of us has free time.

During visits, we make sure to devote the entire last day to spending as much time together as possible and doing activities we both enjoy. That tends to mean watching movies, eating decadent food and just being in each other’s presence. We rarely ever argue or fight, but if we do have a tough conversation, we make sure to settle it as soon as it’s brought up. Lingering negative feelings can breed discontent which is NOT what you want to happen when you are so far away from someone.

Spending time apart are some of the hardest moments in a relationship, but getting through them is the most rewarding. I have known for a while now that if we can survive this time apart, we can survive anything!

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