If you read Our Love Story (Part 2) and Our Love Story (Part 3) blog posts, then you know that Zach and I met in high school and dated through college even though we did not go to the same school. Not even close. We were exactly 755.3 miles apart from each other for the full time we were in school. In case you wanted to know, that's a 12+ hour drive, and that is only while I was in Utah and Zach was in Arizona. At one point we were 1,007 miles and a 16-hour drive apart from each other. We would always come home on school breaks and see each other when we were both back in Southern California, but for 8 months out of the year, we lived half a country apart from each other.
We used to get asked all the time "How do you do it?" and "I would never be able to be in a long distance relationship... What's your secret?" To be quite honest, I never had a great answer to these questions in college. I probably said things like "Oh, it's really not that hard!" before running back to my room and crying about missing my boyfriend who I hadn't seen in a month. Some days, my "It's not that hard" answer was the truth. Some days it was what I needed to say to convince myself I could do it. Sometimes it was a flat out lie but saying "I HAVE NO IDEA IT IS TERRIBLE AND I HATE IT" seemed like the wrong thing to say to someone looking for encouragement. Looking back on it now, though, Zach and I have some better answers for anyone who is in a long distance relationship.
The number one trick to being in a long distance relationship is to live your life. Be busy. Do fun things that you want to do. Hang out with your friends, go to dinner with the girls, go to the movies by yourself, do whatever it is that you want to do! I can not tell you how many friends I had who would be dating someone in the next town over in college and felt like they were not allowed to have fun or do anything during the week because their significant other was not with them. Joining a sorority and picking a major that required all of my free time are the top two reasons I was able to handle a long distance relationship. If Zach was busy or out with his friends I didn't feel left out or lonely because I had my own stuff going on. I wasn't just sitting around on Friday nights wishing my boyfriend was there to take me out on a date, I was watching How I Met Your Mother Netflix marathons with my roommate and eating pizza in the basement of the sorority house (Okay, sometimes I was sitting alone wishing my boyfriend was there to take me out on a date on a Friday night, but MOST of the time I didn't really even think of it).
The other thing that really made being in a long distance relationship so manageable for such a long time was technology. Zach and I had very different schedules on top of being so far apart and it wasn't always possible for us to FaceTime or call each other every day. We found this app called Couple and it was AWESOME! Couple is like texting, SnapChat, DrawSomething, Instagram, calendar, and more all in one place and it is specific to just you and your significant other. There is no accidentally texting your roommate or your brother or your teacher instead of your boyfriend since the app only lets you communicate with the one person you set the app up with. You can text, set reminders in the app for anniversaries or important days, send drawings back and forth, send pictures and emojis, there's even a feature where if you both are on the app at the same time you can "kiss" each other with your thumbs. It sounds super cheesy but when you haven't seen someone in a month the things that sound cheesy become totally awesome. This probably sounds like an ad but its not, I promise. This app is literally just so great and I want people to know about it. It is free, too, so that makes it even better!
Other things we did to make the distance manageable is that we made sure to visit each other whenever possible. Typically Zach would come up to Utah in the fall for a weekend and I would go to Arizona in the spring for one weekend. Between those visits and school holidays, we were able to see each other about every 5 or 6 weeks. At least for me, knowing I would get to see Zach in a month and a half instead of waiting till the end of the semester was HUGE. It didn't always work out perfectly, but it was super nice to know that the distance was not a forever thing.
I think the thing that most helped me with our long-distance relationship was seeing each other. I like being able to see Megan and when she was in Utah it made it a lot harder. We made sure to visit each other so that meant we got to be together and see each other which was great. We also Skyped and FaceTimed a lot and it was fun to see her when I could. I missed going on dates and I missed taking her out so sometimes we would go on dates over Skype. We would order food from the same take out places or both go to a Starbucks and eat dinner or drink coffee with Skype open and pretend we were in the same place. Maybe that's weird and makes us seem crazy. When you are in a Starbucks talking to your computer screen you might look like a very lonely guy but its worth it.
I also thought that surprising Megan was a great way to make the long distance seem less far. I liked to send flowers or letters or packages and not tell her they were coming. Megan loves to get things in the mail so I liked sending stuff and knowing she would be happy when she checked her mailbox. One time I even flew up to Utah a day and a half early to surprise her and showed up to a presentation she had to give for school. She had no idea I was there until the middle of her presentation.
I think the last big one for me was making sure to prioritize each other. Megan already said that we didn't have the same schedules when we were at school so it was sometimes hard to find time for each other. We both decided that when we visited each other we would have all our school work done and just have time set aside for us. We also made it so we had at least one night a week to talk on the phone and we would try and call other times in the middle of the day when we knew the other person would be walking to class or leaving the library. Megan took morning classes and went to bed early and I would sleep in and take classes all afternoon but we tried to fit in time for each other wherever we could.
I know that the tips Zach and I shared above won't make a long distance relationship any less long distance... these are just the things that helped make the distance manageable for us. We also would FaceTime, call, text, leave voicemails, send emails, write letters, send care packages, all the stuff you would normally think of, too. I'm not going to try and tell you it was easy, because that would be a lie. It wasn't. But I really don't think it was as hard as everyone assumes it would be. Maybe it is because that is really all we knew... The whole time we were in college we never broke up or dated other people so we didn't really have much to compare it to. I guess it all ended up working out, and we both think it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What were some of your favorite tips for making it work when you and your partner were so far away? Let me know in the comments below!