As I enter the seventh hour of sitting in the car on my way to my boyfriend’s college graduation, I cannot help but feel accomplished.
Yes, we are on our way to celebrate the completion of his education, but we are also celebrating a year of being apart.
No one wants to be in a long distance relationship, but sometimes responsibilities and opportunities get in the way. I could have stayed home near our college, but I made plans to move away to pursue my dreams.
You can blame it on bad luck or poor timing, but I saw this as the next big step in our relationship. It is common for people to be together due to convenience, comfort or just the physical aspect. When you spend time apart, you find out how strong your relationship really is.
I learned this is not only a test of your relationship but also of yourself. Are you independent enough to be on your own and secure enough in yourself to trust your partner? If so, this time apart can be wonderful.
It wasn't easy, but I did not expect to enjoy the time apart as much as I did. This year we ended up becoming closer than ever before and I became a better person because of it.
If you have found yourself in a long distance relationship, these creative ideas can make your love life better than ever:
1. Surprise Visit
Do not attempt this unless you are in a healthy and trusting relationship. You do not want to be accused of trying to catch them doing something they should not be.
It goes without saying that the less people you tell the better; nothing is worse than a spoiled surprise. I only told my boyfriend’s best friend I was coming up so he could make sure he was out at the time I arrived.
But then that one friend told a couple friends, who told a few more friends. Although everyone kept the secret, I ended up with a group of people out with my boyfriend anxiously awaiting my arrival.
To add to the spectacle of surprise, try to plan it so your partner is out with his or her friends. Showing up at their door step can be romantic, but it is more fun to have a group of people witness their reaction.
I entered through the back door of the bar and his friends excitingly turned him around to face me. His reaction was absolutely priceless, and by far worth the 16 hour round trip. Get creative and have fun with it!
2. Love Letters
Technology makes it incredibly easy to communicate long distance, but there is nothing like receiving a hand written love letter in the mail.
Becoming pen pals with your partner provides a unique and intimate form of communication. Phones calls and webcam sessions come and go, but with letters you two will always have these precious pieces of the past to look back on.
A great way to countdown the days until you see each other again is to make your own little mailbox stuffed with love notes.
For Valentine’s Day, I sent my boyfriend a handheld mailbox and wrote out 91 reasons why I loved him for the 91 days we had until his graduation.
What kept our distance exciting was he was able to open a little reminder every day of why the wait was worth it.
Some were funny inside jokes, while others brought him to tears. Remember in the movie "Grease" when Marty sprays perfume on her love letters? It may seem old school, but trust me the extra hint of you will drive your lover wild.
3. Playful Pictures
Nude or scandalous pictures step into dangerous territory, but I am not opposed to the idea. We have all heard the horror stories of exes leaking old photos as revenge.
If you do not fully trust your significant other with your pictures, obviously do not risk it. But if you are in a committed, unconditional relationship, there are easy mistakes to avoid so your pictures do not end up in the wrong hands.
Make an agreement prior with your partner that the photos must be deleted after viewing them. By doing the same in your own picture gallery, you will never have to worry if you lose your phone. As an extra precaution, make sure you set up your key lock so no one can roam through your phone freely.
Before sending a picture to your lover, make sure they are alone. It is fun to be spontaneous and surprise them, but not when it surprises friends or strangers who may be in eye sight.
Believe it or not, you do not have to strip down and bare all to get your partner excited. The more playful the picture, the more you will have your lover asking for more.
Selfies can save relationships -- yea I said it. Sending a cute or funny picture of yourself with where you are or what you are doing in the background can make your significant other feel like they are right there with you.
4. Create a Countdown
There are many free countdown apps that allow you to set an upcoming date to look forward to. Use a photo of you two, and set your phone background to your next special date.
Anytime you or your partner are feeling lonely or overwhelmed by the distance, check the countdown for a motivating reminder that it is only a matter of days.
5. Date Night
Skyping every night is excessive and unnecessary. Catch up at least once a day through texts, calls, voicemails or social media, anything to let your significant other know you are thinking about them. Limit webcam sessions to a couple times a week to make them more special.
If you Skype your partner too frequently you are more tempted to multi-task and browse on the Internet. Make your webcam sessions exciting by turning them into date nights.
Choose a night you are both free, buy the same bottle of wine, pick the same movie and spend a relaxing night together.
6. Play Games
If you are looking for something more interactive, find a board game you can play against each other or even an online game. I created a battle ship game in which the repercussions were truth or dare, it ended up making for a hilarious date night!
7. Care Packages
If you have some money to spend on your honey, a care package can be an awesome treat. The key to putting together the perfect package is paying attention to detail.
I remembered my boyfriend mentioned his supermarket did not carry his favorite yogurt bar and found a box to send.
A care package should be random, yet useful. If your significant other is going through a stressful time, find a funny stress ball.
If he or she has been complaining about the cold, send a scarf. If you just want to pamper your partner, send his or her favorite candy or magazine.
8. Throwback Thursday
The day notorious for posting pictures of the diaper days can also serve as a nice reminder of your relationship. Sometimes it is hard to remember what life was like together after a while apart. Find forgotten pictures of you two and send it on Thursday or any day you see fit.
9. Explore Your Independence
Ironically this advice came from my boyfriend when comforting me before he left for college, and he had a great point.
If you have committed to a long distance relationship, chances are the distance has an end date. Especially if you are in your 20-somethings, relationships now come with possibilities of soon living with each other and starting a life together.
If done right, this time apart can actually be helpful to your relationship. It is giving you a chance to live your own life, while still being in love. Use this time to work on yourself professionally, physically and mentally.
With your schedule freed up from date nights, plan fun things to do with your family and friends because once you finally get to see your love, chances are you two will be spending a surplus of time with one another.
10. Trust or Bust
Without trust, none of these ideas will help save your relationship. Almost always, a lack of trust stems from lack of communication.
Whether it be not getting in touch when you are out, not mentioning who you hang out with or not letting your partner know when you are upset, you are creating a ticking time bomb.
I would be lying if I said I was an all-trusting girlfriend. The reason my jealously has not ruined my relationship is I have learned when and how to express my feelings.
When something bothers you, confront it as soon as possible. The longer you keep it to yourself the more your jealousy will boil inside you until it bursts.
You also may be irrationally upset when you first find out about something. Take a second to talk it over with a friend to get in the right mind set and plan how to calmly approach the situation. If you ask your partner about something instead of accusing them it can usually be talked out and resolved.
If your significant other is wary of your relationship, a nice way to assure him or her is mentioning them to your peers.
Whether it be friends, coworkers or family, nothing feels better than when you meet up and your peers tell them “nice to finally meet you, we’ve heard so many good things about you.”
I am not saying talk everyone’s ear off about your companion, but mentioning them can help solidify his or her presence in your life.
I would always make sure to mention my boyfriend casually in conversation when meeting a new guy just so they knew what my intentions were from the start.
If you are in a long distance relationship simply remind your partner that you care, because ultimately the little day to day reminders are what make long distance relationships exciting.