Hey folks! So I’m going to try to lighten the mood of my blog with this week’s post and talk about something that makes us all happy: love and relationships. Quite a few of my friends have recently gotten themselves into partly long-distance relationships (also known as school relationships during the summer when we all go back home) and I am currently in a long distance almost relationship (I’m not even going to try to explain that one). Plus a lot of friends are getting married, which is weirding me out a little bit, but there it is. Anyway, in light of all of this, I thought I would present to you a few thoughts on how to maintain a long distance relationship, even if it’s only long distance for a few months in the year. Feel free to also apply these tips to relationships which are not long distance.
- Make God your very first priority – and check yourself to make sure you’re actually keeping Him first. I can tell you with complete certainty that if you two don’t share the same priorities and goals, either you or your relationship will fall into chaos. Something has to give. If you want your life to be about God, your relationship will need to as well. This can take whatever form you like – you can read the Bible together, pray together, share new ideas with each other, discuss things, etc. Whatever floats your boat.
- Learn how your partner gives/receives love and then act in such a way that will make them happy. I would suggest taking the love languages test (it’s free! and awesome), but that’s not a requirement. It does make things a lot easier.
- Spend time together. Quality time is hugely important. At first, you’re getting to know each other, which you can’t do without spending time together. And as you get further into your relationship, you need to continue to let this person know that they are important to you, and nothing says you care like taking time out of your oh-so-busy life to devote solely to that person, even if it’s just a phone call once a week. But also…
- Take some time to be apart. Yes, you making time for them is so so important, but you’re also not attached at the hip and you are still your own person. So while you do need to grow together, you also need to continue to grow as individuals. Also, frankly, if you spend every second together, you will get sick of each other and simultaneously drive everyone around you completely bananas. Trust me, you don’t need to be texting every second you’re awake.
- Stick up for each other! This is an obvious one, but it can also be overlooked really easily. You’re getting to know this flawed human being, and you probably know more about their little flaws and imperfections than anyone else, so of course it’s easy to complain about them or even just gossip about them to your friends. But not only does that bring negativity into your relationship, it destroys trust between the two of you. If all you talk about is the stuff they’re bad at, of course they’re not going to trust you with everything that they are. Additionally, don’t let your friends badmouth them. This can be a tough one if you guys are all friends because you’re used to speaking the truth to each other and about each other. But just don't. Don't do it and don't tolerate it.
- Be sickeningly romantic and cute. You’re in a relationship for goodness sake. You’re allowed to show people that you care about each other. Maybe don’t start planning your wedding after one month of dating (at least not out loud), but hey! Be cute! The people around you are happy for you, and the people who don’t know you are probably jealous of how cute you are. Own it.
Some other fun activities that you can look forward to doing together when you see each other again and may not be as highly recommended as the above tips but can give you some date ideas if you’re stuck and don’t know what to do:
- Physical exertion. You can work out together, go hiking together, or (my personal favorite) maybe even go dancing together. You get to spend time together and get in shape! And you know what they say, couples who sweat together stay together. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if that’s something they say or not. It just sounds like it works and supports my point well.)
- Find some community service that you guys can do together. Not every date has to be all about you two.
- Do something completely cliché at least once. Go see a movie, grab some ice cream afterwards. Go on a picnic in a meadow somewhere. Watch the sunset on the beach. Whatever.
- Do something completely novel at least once. Would either of you two normally ever spend the day reenacting Groundhog Day in public as a two man show? I don’t think so. Try it!
- Make sure you dress up for each other sometimes. Watching a movie in sweatpants and calling it a “date” might work once in a while, but taking time to put on heels or a nice tie will show the other person that you care enough about them to look nice when you’re with them. And there are so few chances to really dress up anyway, so why waste the opportunity when it comes along?
- Cook together. Who here doesn’t like food? If you’re opening your mouth with a smartass comment, you’re lying. Everyone likes food. If you absolutely must, you can make something healthy, but consider that you could also make comfort food, and that would probably be more fun.
- Just sit and read together. Or just sit together. Be comfortable in silence.
- Play a cooperative board game together, preferably one that’s a little stressful. Nothing teaches you more about how something thinks than cooperative board games and watching how they act under stress. This can teach you what to expect and how to act when they have to deal with actual stress in their lives. And if you win, that’s just the icing on top of the cake! (I would stay away from Monopoly though, just in case.)
- Switch up roles. If one of you normally plans the dates, let the other person plan and take charge of the date. If one of you normally pays, let the other person pay. If one of you normally drives, let the other person drive. (Unless the other person is a terrible driver and you maybe want to finish out this date still breathing. Then you can drive.)
Extra pro tip: If you’ve done all of those activities too and you’re still stuck, flip to a random page in the dictionary, point to a random word, and try to plan a date that somehow relates back to that word.
Super fantastic pro tip: Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb with your date ideas! If it goes well, good for you! If it doesn’t, you’ll have some great bonding time as a couple and a hilarious story to tell everyone.