After three years of being so beyond single, I met someone perfect for me.
He's witty, respectful, caring and shares my love of romantic comedies and fruity drinks.
The only problem? He lives in another state.
Relationships aren't easy. Long-distance relationships definitely aren't easy. Whether it's a two-hour drive or states away, LDRs take effort and dedication, and they are not for the faint of heart.
I've read so many articles about long-distance relationships, and I notice a running theme among many of them: They sugarcoat it. Yes, you can send your beau sweet letters in the mail and be whisked away for a long weekend full of “feels” and romance.
However, based on my experience, there a few real things you need to know about an LDR:
1. Your communication skills are essential.
Neither I, nor my boyfriend, are phone talkers. We hate it, actually.
Unfortunately, having real conversations are a huge part of your relationship when you're far away. While most of our conversing involves text (or in his case, memes), we try to call each other every once in a while, even if it's for a minute or two.
And I'm not just talking means of communication. I'm also talking about how you communicate.
There are so many ways for things to get misconstrued when you don't have the luxury of being face-to-face. It's important to say how you feel when you feel it, or it could build up and come out later down the road unexpectedly.
2. You should have your own life, and he should have his.
Don't be so consumed with your relationship with your boyfriend that you forget about the other relationships in your life. Most importantly, focus on the one with yourself.
Stay busy, keep doing what you love and make time for your friendships. It's not a good look to be too obsessed with someone and put all your eggs in one basket, and the same goes for him.
Plus, it gives you something to talk about when you come together. After all, those things are most likely what attracted him to you in the first place.
3. Always keep your time together as “normal” as possible.
Putting too much pressure on your time spent together can create a lot of unnecessary expectations and anxiety. Go to the grocery store, sit on the couch and watch a show, or at least do something you'd probably do if you lived in the same city.
It's easy to want to fit as much as possible into one weekend together, but it might leave you feeling a little exhausted at the end of it all. This is your time to enjoy each other's company, so don't worry about the rest.
4. Pay attention to the small details.
What is his favorite candy? What kind of body wash does he use? Is there a certain movie or book he's been talking about?
It might sound creepy, but keeping these things in the back of your mind might come in handy.
If he's having a bad week, you can send him a little care package. Or, you can surprise him when he arrives at your place. Sometimes the small details can make the biggest impact.
5. You'll hear “isn't long distance hard?” too many times.
Yeah, it's hard. I get it. Please keep reminding me how much it sucks, though.
Can you sense the angst? It's not difficult to figure out quickly the distance majorly sucks. But please, stranger, keep reminding me of it.
Trust me, it's so easy to complain about anything and everything when you're apart from the one person you want to be with the most. I try to only allow myself a certain amount of time in the day to be a Debbie Downer, and for that time, I let all of my pent-up emotions out.
After that, time to put on my big girl britches and deal with it. Allot yourself time to vent to girlfriends or cry it out, but don't engulf yourself in it, or you'll just bring everyone else down around you.
6. Don't assume anything.
Please, just don't. He can't read your mind, and you can't read his. Solidify plans, speak your mind and make sure you're on the same page.
7. You might move quicker than most couples, and that's OK.
Being apart can make your actual time together seem a lot more intense and fast-paced, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
If you were in the same city, you'd have a better chance to move slower because you see each other more often and have the ability to take a night for yourself.
When you're in a long-distance relationship, your time together is precious, so it forces you to be more open about your feelings and take things to the next level.
And that's OK, as long as you're both on the same page.
8. Every trip to their city is like a mini-vacation.
Every time I go visit my boyfriend, I love seeing his city. Although it's old to him, it's brand new to me, and it is fun to explore. It gives him a chance to play tour guide and find things he hasn't done either.
Before your next trip to visit your guy, research something new and fun to do. Maybe it'll be a first for him, too.
9. Remember their routine is not the same as yours.
I go to bed at 9 pm every night. My boyfriend is a night owl. I keep my apartment a little too clean. My boyfriend uses his floor as his laundry basket.
We're figuring out how to make that work when we spend more time together, and it's perfectly normal to not be completely in sync when it comes to that stuff.
Don't try to change them. It won't work, and it won't do you any favors. Instead, be flexible and try to find ways to weave their habits into your day-to-day life
(Note to self: Stop picking up every single sock. They're OK on the floor).
10. People say LDRs are tough for a reason. They're not made for everyone.
I believe the perfect recipe for an LDR is this: mutual respect, an end-goal in mind, dedication to putting in the travel time and being on the same page.
Yes, it's a tough relationship to be in, but every time you're reunited, you're reminded that it's all worth it.
This article originally appeared on the author's personal blog.