Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to Maintain a Long-Distance Relationship (Feat. My Boyfriend)

Hello, beautiful! Whether your spring semester just started or you've been back at school for a couple of weeks now, I hope you're adjusting to life on campus and enjoying your spring semester. Or, if there's parts of leaving home that are hard for you, hang in there, because I totally relate!

When I left to go back to BU after my monthlong break, the hardest part of leaving home was leaving Ryan behind. We just got so used to spending every minute together (besides when he was working or sleeping) that adjusting to life without him has made me miss him times a thousand.

Even so, I've always appreciated the beauty of our long-distance relationship. The longer I'm apart from him, the more I miss him - and the more we have to talk about, because we aren't always together.

Some days, I get caught up in doing something incredible - whether it's for the paper or in preparation for sorority recruitment - for so long that I feel fine on my own. Other times, I find myself missing him so much that I feel like I need to see him, hold his hand, or even just hear his voice just to get through the rest of my day. I guess the saying really is true: absence makes the heart grow fonder!

My point is that there's something beautiful and special about long-distance relationships that truly helps you to appreciate what a great love you have. However, that isn't to say that long-distance relationships are always easy, breezy, beautiful. They come with their own unique set of challenges, whether it's that you miss out on physical touch (which is a major struggle for us, since that's one of Ryan's most prominent love languages - more about that later!) or have to settle conflicts over text.

Today, I wanted to share some of the most valuable lessons I've learned as one-half of a long-distance relationship - and I also have a special surprise!

For the first time ever, Ryan has agreed to (finally) let me show him off on the blog. So, I asked him a bunch of fun Q&A questions as a fun way for you guys to get to know him! I couldn't be more excited that I'm finally getting to introduce y'all to the man of my dreams <3

Tip #1: Never Go To Bed Angry

Okay, so even I have to admit that this piece of wisdom is often overused - but I continue to quote it to death anyways, simply because it's just SO true. I really, truly, honestly try to live by this principle every day in my relationship with Ryan. Whether our relationship problem is a small one or a big one, I always strive to talk it out and have it fixed by the time my head hits the pillow at night.

Sometimes, I think it's tempting to go to bed angry just to get an escape from the uncomfortable emotions and rhetoric surrounding the problem. Especially as an anxious person, I often fall into the thinking trap of believing that I'll instantly feel better as soon as I can just get away from the conflict. However, as much as we'd like to believe that our problems will dissolve as soon as we fall asleep, we won't necessarily wake up feeling any less angry or resentful. Time heals all wounds eventually - NOT within 24 hours - so it's much healthier and more efficient to talk it out rather than just "sleep on it."

Tip #2: Talk Every Night

Something new that Ryan and I have just started doing is rather than text constantly all night, we try to have a quick five-to-ten minute conversation over the phone every day. This was a serious compromise for us, since I like to talk on the phone whereas he'd rather text if given the choice, so I'm happy that he agreed to try this idea out! 

So far, I love it because it means I get to hear his voice every day, which is something I really miss when I'm not at home. To me, talking on the phone with your partner is one of those little things that allows you to recapture a little bit of the magic of being with them in person. I find that having a good, old-fashioned conversation over the phone makes me feel closer to Ryan than just shooting him a text. Plus, I especially love that we can wind up having much longer, more intellectual conversations than we would be if we were just mindlessly texting while doing homework. 

So, if you're in a long-distance relationship, I would definitely advocate for trying to talk a little bit every night. Even if you can only manage five or ten minutes like we do, it really makes a difference in restoring some of that special intimacy between you and your partner!

Tip #3: Learn Your Love Language

If you haven't heard of the Five Love Languages already, definitely take the quiz and find out which love languages you and your partner "speak!" Basically, the Five Love Languages is a book
by Gary Chapman, and the idea behind the book is that everyone communicates love using a different "language." So, if your partner's love language is Physical Touch, they might communicate love through hugging or kissing. Or, if your partner's love language is Acts of Service, then they might show you love by doing the dishes or filling your car up with gas.

It's always helpful to know your partner's love language (not to mention your own!), but it's especially important when you're in a long-distance relationship. After all, if your partner speaks a different "love language" than you, you might not recognize that they're showing love even when they are. If you know what love language they speak, then you can look out for ways that they show you love in their own special way.

Tip #4: Focus on the Positive

When you're in a fight with a partner in any type of relationship, whether you're long-distance or married or living together or dating, it's easy to focus on all the other times they've screwed up before. Whenever I fight with Ryan, suddenly it's like my rosy glasses come off. I realize our relationship is NOT perfect, which - though it may be true -  soon leads me to catastrophize about all the other reasons why we shouldn't be together.

It's easy to get carried away by this kind of thinking when you're upset. The problem is that in hyper-focusing on all the things that are wrong with your relationship leads you to forget all of the wonderful things that make you so great together! So, when me and Ryan get into a fight, rather than fall into a downward spiral of remembering all our past fights and hanging on every last insecurity, I try to focus on the positive. I think about all the things I like about him, from his cute smile to his goofy sense of humor, and all the reasons we're a great couple, like our communication and our shared passions (for food and dogs, of course...).

Tip #5: Always Say I Love You and Always Text Goodnight

This could seem like a really obvious one, since it's so important to do this no matter what situation you and your partner are in - but when you're in a long-distance relationship, I think it's especially important to always do these two things! Saying "I love you" and "Good night" seem like such little things, but when your partner is far away from you, the little things are often what you miss the most. 

Whether the distance between you is 10,000 miles or just 20, I truly think that simply hearing "I love you" can make any amount of distance feel like none at all!  When you or your partner are having a rough day, it helps to know that you can always look forward to those three little words or that good night text to get you through it all. Just knowing that you still have your partner's love and support, and having that reminder be the last thing you see before you go to sleep at night, helps you feel more secure in your relationship, even when the distance makes it seem like you're on rocky ground.

* * * 

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for: it's time to meet my boyfriend!

Before I hand the mic over to Ryan and let him take it away from here, he asked me to write him a quick introduction, since he's shy and doesn't like to write much himself. So, here's what you all need to know about my boyfriend:

Me and Ry (yes, I call him Ry) have been together for almost two years. We grew up a little less than a mile apart from each other, but never really crossed paths until high school. We met each other in art class when I was a junior and he was a senior. I like to tease him about how he was seriously friend-zoned for the first half of that year (I was coming to the end of a really bad relationship at the time), but in reality, I couldn't be more happy that we got together - and I hope he'd say the same about me :)

Ryan is a criminal justice major who juggles online and night classes with a loaded work week. He currently works at a bank in our hometown, and might be getting promoted to full-time employee soon! (Fingers crossed...) He's also hoping to get an apartment, which we both couldn't be more excited about, since it would mean I'd get to stay with him and we could have fun slumber parties where we eat Cheetos on the couch (mmm, fake cheese flavor) and cuddle with the pet lizard he hopes to get once he moves out. 

I could blabber all day about Ryan, how much I love him, and how proud I am of his career aspirations..but to keep that from happening, I turned to Ryan and asked him to answer a bunch of questions for me (some serious, some silly) so you guys could hear straight from the source himself. TBH, I've been trying to get him to let me feature him on the blog for what feels like forever now - and somehow, this time, I finally succeeded! 

Rather than following the boyfriend tag, I chose to ask him my own set of questions, so it might seem a little bit random at times. However, I hope you guys enjoy this special peek into him and our relationship, and that our special love for one another truly comes across! 

Ryan's Answers


What's your astrological sign and do you feel like it describes you?

My astrological sign is that of Gemini. I would say it has a pretty close description of me. I'm easily distracted and easily fascinated, and also curious, adaptable and always ready to have a fun time.

Since you love movies, what must-see movies would you recommend to my readers?

Gran Torino, 28 Days Later, Reservoir Dogs, and Spotlight.

What are your three favorite things about me?

Your nose, your persistence (though that can go both ways), and your intellect.

[Say it with me now: AWWWW!]

What's the best memory you have of us?

Our first Valentine's Day :)

What is your LEAST favorite food?

My least favorite food would have to be an avocado. They're texturally disgusting, and the hype people make over them makes them worse than they actually are.

If you had a boat, what would you name it?

Row vs. Wade...literally I just Googled boat names.


Cats or dogs?

You can answer this one, Haley.

[It's dogs, y'all.]

Pancakes or waffles?

None of the above - I prefer hotcakes. They're just better...

Hugs or kisses?


Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day?

Valentine's Day, even though I'm a large percent Irish.

Money, fame, or power?

Power - with power comes money and fame. (Might be infamy, but it's still fame!)

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