Reading time: 5 mins.
The difficult decision has been made to leave your significant other (SO) and enter a long distance relationship (LDR) and come to KI. Fear not, you’re not the only one and plenty of people do it. I’ve asked some willing volunteers to share their experiences and thoughts on some of the most important aspects on being in a LDR. I’ve compiled a list of 7 things from the gems I’ve been told.
This is one of the biggest aspects of a LDR. Everyone had a lot of important advice to impart.
It is important to keep it interesting and varied. There are so many ways of staying in touch – you’re spoiled for choice: telephone calls, video calls, letters and e-mails. For the extra young kids out there, there’s snapchat too.
Send your significant other (SO) a voice memo or a funny photo/video from your day. Keep each other in the loop. Another, completely adorable thing to do, is to leave sweet notes around your/their home in random places, so that they’ll be pleasantly surprised as they’re reminded of you. Make them laugh or make them cry (with joy – please) – your choice. Just let them know you care. Don’t be afraid, to say and write what you truly feel. Take this time apart to improve your communication. It’s important to figure out what works for you, to avoid misunderstandings, because they can be harder to solve from a distance. Try to formulate a way of expressing your needs without pressurising each other or expecting too much.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get hung up on how often you’re messaging each other or speaking to one another. One word: don’t! It’s okay not to speak every day. Let life happen, but a short, sweet daily message doesn’t go amiss either.
In any relationship trust is part of the foundation. This is regardless of whether you’re in a LDR or not. It’s paramount that you trust your SO, yourself and the relationship. You can’t know what the other is doing all the time and don’t try to either. Try to avoid seeking constant contact and reassurance of the validity of your LDR. This way when you do communicate you’ll hopefully do so with honesty.
It is important to respect each other’s feelings and each other. It’s not easy and sometimes, one (simultaneously or separately) or both will be feeling the tug on your heartstrings that distance can cause. Therefore, be patient with one another and share these thoughts/feelings with one another.
3. Planning ahead
“It can carry a dangerous element of supplication, but hope gives us the impetus to seek the betterment of our lives and others” – Stan van Hooft (The necessity of Hope)
Plan when you’re going to see each other. The prize for the longest period of time a couple have gone without seeing each other on this course is 5 months! I would like to think it was hope and anticipation of seeing each other, as well as the other things on this list that kept them going.
Use this time to satisfy your sense of adventure and travel, exploring the locality together. For example, take romantic trips deeper in to the archipelago*.
When you do meet, it won’t necessarily always be perfect, but that’s ok. You’re squeezing all your longing into a few days and there’s pressure to ensure every conversation or moment is perfect. That’s improbable, nay impossible – we’re humans, perfectly imperfect. Think back to point number one.
4. Enjoy your time apart
You’re never going to have this much time to yourself – so appreciate it!
This time can be used for personal growth to discover what sparks joy for you (yes, I’m succumbing to Marie Kondo and her ways). The obvious reason for heading to KI is for academic growth, but it’s so much more than that!
Whilst apart, thoughts will inevitably touch on your SO and hopefully how valued and important they are in your life (and you in theirs); increasing the desire of that future life together.
5. Pillow talk
I had to be creative with the heading here. The same way a LDR can be an opportunity to be creative with one another. The technological world is your oyster. Think outside the box ;). Surprise each other. I sure was surprised by what was revealed on my survey – it was not all PG.
Imagination is one of the greatest aphrodisiacs. Use it!
6. The reunion
I have it on some (I believe good) authority, that distance maintains that passion and that whenever you’re together, there’s definitely a spark that lights that tinder. If you’ve entered the long-term category – distance can be a breath of fresh air.
Notice the changes in each other. You’re both as nervous as each other. Don’t worry you will recognise each other at the airport. You won’t end up randomly hugging the first foreigner you see. Also, be patient with the fact that it may take time to get reacquainted with one another.
7. The goodbye/au revoir
Everyone shared something different. Some decided not to say, “goodbye”, but “au revoir”**. Some opted to have quality time before the departure, but it does creep up on you.
Of course, this isn’t all about what you can do for your SO. It’s also about what they can do for you; what you can do for each other. So, go on and send this blog to your SO.
*The Archipelago: Stockholm archipelago is just as the name suggests. However, for some unknown reason people forget that whilst in Stockholm city you’re already in the archipelago and always refer to the islands further out as “the archipelago”. This is something that I found rather frustrating to begin with, but I now follow suit. You know what they say, “when in Rome”.
**Acknowledgement: It has been a privilege to get a glimpse in to my classmates’ worlds. I hope you appreciate it and find some, if not all of the above useful. Please check out part 1 of my LDR series, for more on what Global Health students have to say about being in a LDR.
Disclaimer: I am not a relationship guru! Each LDR is different. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. The disclaimer from the first blog in the series also applies here.