A hot and sunny, beautiful long weekend has just passed me by and I’m sitting here in sweatpants and Babe’s sweater, like I have been since he left on Saturday, with the exception of two overnight shifts on an acute psychiatry unit and a quick dinner with my childhood best friends. Working nights has never stopped me from seizing the day when the weather is beautiful, but right now (just as I anticipated), my motivation level is 0. Why girls chase professional athletes, I do not understand. I am head over heels for Babe and every part of my future- buying a home, getting married, having kids and growing old- include him. That’s what makes it so hard each year when the hockey season starts, and why I wouldn’t wish long distance on anybody. All summer, Babe and I prepare for this day. We talk about how long I’ll come stay with him, what we need to do when we’re apart to reach our financial and other goals, and especially how being apart now is so worth it in order to be together forever. Despite what we talk about, it’s always hard to see him go. In all honesty, I thought that this year would be different after losing my grandfather last month, because now that I’ve experienced the pain of permanent loss, I thought it would be much simpler saying goodbye knowing we can FaceTime and text, and that I’ll be there with him in the near future. Yet here I am, curled up on the couch watching cheesy Netflix original series that get cancelled after one season and that neither Babe nor I would even enjoy if we were watching it together.
I think if I wrote in a diary about my first week without Babe, this is what a cheesy over dramatic version of my thoughts would look like:
Day one:why is it impossible to sleep whenever Babe is on the plane? I literally just want to sleep until he gets there and we can talk because I’m so grumpy and so do not want to talk to anyone but him… OMG HE LANDED I’M SO EXCITED FOR HIM AND SO HAPPY AND I honestly have no idea why my mom thought I was being bitchy. Oops. My bad.
Day two:I went to pack a lunch for my shift tonight and found out my brother ate all my special edition salted caramel Greek yogurt and I almost lost it. I think I’m having separation anxiety to my yogurt AND to Babe. Okay. Maybe just missing Babe, and blowing everything out of proportion because I slept alone without him to cuddle last night. Still mad about the yogurt though…
I watched an entire season of ‘Friends from College’ on Netflix today to distract me from the fact Babe doesn’t have a French phone yet and honestly, not half bad. I keep telling myself I’m loafing around because I work overnight, but me and my entire family know it’s because I’m miserable without Babe and am in no mood to socialize. The only reason I hopped back to work is because I like to stay busy and because on night shifts Babe is awake, being 7 hours ahead because of the time difference.
Day three:well, I’m no longer a grumpy little troll doll who has to count to ten to avoid yelling about yogurt, but being miserable for two days seriously exhausted me. I’m actually watching Dr. Phil on tv because I was too exhausted to pick a new show on Netflix. I know being tired has nothing to do with overnight shifts because normally after an hours nap I’m ready to roll. I don’t want to do anything except talk to Babe but he’s at fitness testing. Oh wait… he’s calling!!!!!!!! Except I literally look like I’ve been awake all night and laying on the couch for three days straight which is all true…. hoping he thinks the bedhead thing is sexy because I can’t wait to catch up!!!!
Day four: I finally felt pathetic enough to take a shower and took a minute to convince myself to shave my legs, bitter because it’s not like I’ll be snuggling up to anyone who will notice if they are prickly (bless Babe’s heart for never once acting like that bothered him). Once I got in the shower I felt so clean and motivated to do other regular tasks I’ve neglected like make something healthy to eat and text my friends and send some emails I forgot about oh and clean my room and get a car wash…. I’m on a roll! Back to my old self. Can’t wait to tell Babe because he acts so proud of even the littlest of accomplishments. On top of all that I can’t wait to see Babe’s Mom tonight! I love going over there because I adore the woman and we get along well, and because the place reminds me of Babe, and I know it makes him happy that I see her just as much when he’s gone as when he’s at home.
Day five:I don’t know why I felt like I was superwoman yesterday, but now I’m exhausted from actually doing things, and realizing I need to get back into a routine. I loved that Babe woke me up on FaceTime this morning before I went to work the way we used to, and that we were able to talk during my entire 25 minute drive. FaceTime isn’t so bad, but I wish Babe was close enough that I could get a hug even like once a week. I’m starting to remember how good we are at long distance, especially the communication part and I love how many shifts I can pick up in the time I would’ve been spending with Babe, but now are empty spaces.
Day six: trying not to be anxious when Babe is busy and we can’t FaceTime when I have nothing else to do. I know he’s busy with work especially at the beginning of the season when he’s just settling in. Reminding myself of that has helped, and so has spending time with family. I notice that when I make big plans with friends I haven’t seen in a while right away when Babe leaves because I have so much spare time, I get overwhelmed and cancel. So I’ve been spending time with familiar faces; mine and Babe’s family, and my best friends from childhood who I really don’t have to put in effort with when we get together, which I’m very grateful for. I’m starting to regret picking up all the shifts I took when I went into overdrive, so I’ve promised myself to leave my schedule as is and utilize my days off to recharge. I know when I’m not well rested when Babe is away I get extra grumpy, so I will try to avoid it.
Day seven: I told Babe how tired I am and how many shifts I have in the upcoming weeks, and he sent me a $50USD gift card to Starbucks and I’m both so mad and so in love with him for being so generous and thoughtful all the time. It’s fun to think of sweet ways to be thoughtful while we’re apart and it’s something that helps the time go by faster because I’m both being active or productive and thinking of Babe at the same time. Also LESS THAN 50 DAYS UNTIL IM WITH MY BABE!!!!!!! Yeah I count down…. Even one year when I counted down from like 200. It still happens, it’s still in my day planner, it’s still all I think about when work is slow.
I warned you when I said overdramatic!! But for people who haven’t done long distance dating before or for those who know what it’s like, I wanted to give a fair depiction of how much of a rollercoaster it can be at the start so it’s either easier to understand the challenges, or it’s relatable and something to make you feel like you’re not alone in all the mayhem. I have a few friends who have had to adjust to long distance, and I feel happy that I can lend an ear, because it seems to me that we all experience the same pattern of sadness, grouchiness, insecurity and excitement. Long distance requires so much work- good communication, trust building, extra (creative) effort, independence and probably two dozen more things. But it doesn’t have to be a relationship breaker. Babe and I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what works for us, and has made me realize a few things:
You have to be unapologetically (respectfully) honest. If it bugs you that you don’t hear from your partner for two days and don’t discuss where they were, you need to talk about it! Holding on to your concerns will only make it grow the way a drop of water eventually turns into a puddle that ruins your favorite shoes.
If you don’t feel 100% trust toward your partner, you need to find out why. It’s acceptable to not be full on the trust meter when it’s a new relationship and you still have a lot to learn about each other, it’s another thing for your trust to be shaken by your partner’ behavior when your gut tells you something’s up (because something probably is up). There’s also a huge difference between being vulnerable because of distance, and being insecure because of behavior and suspicion.
If you want long distance to work, you have to be willing to try extra hard. No, you don’t have to send a $50 Starbucks gift card every month (still so grateful), but being willing to wake up a bit earlier to talk on FaceTime or Skype or planning a birthday gift two months in advance to get a cheap and reasonable shipping price are things that help your relationship stay strong and flourish. Send a love letter in an email. Make your partner something thoughtful to take with them. Keep one day a week open for a Skype date. Do whatever feels good for both of you, that keeps the romance alive when it needs to travel hundreds or thousands of miles.
I think I mention these qualities quite frequently when talking about long distance, but I do it because I really want to emphasize that this is the foundation of long distance. Sure, it’s hard without Babe, but it’s been about a week and I’m back to my regular level of functioning and when he’s busy all day I don’t feel anxiety as I have in the past in a long distance relationship because I know I can trust him with my heart. Before long, I’ll be on my way to Wine Country in France, ready to soak up all the love Babe can give me and remember why we do this in the first place.
What do you do to keep your long distance relationship strong? I want to hear about it! Message below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.