Long. Distance. Relationship. Possibly the most dreaded combination of words in the English language. All joking aside, there is a reason “long distance” has a reputation. Long distance relationships (LDRs) can be challenging. We have all heard stories of LDRs not working out (although I would argue an awful lot of non-long-distance relationships also don’t work out). On the flip side, people who do make an LDR work eventually reunite and often the long-distance part is not brought up. I bet if you asked 10 couples if they were ever long distance, a lot more than you think would say yes.
How did I end up in a long-distance relationship? Like many people of my generation- school is the culprit. Chris and I met in Kingston in 2015. I had just started my Master’s degree at Queen’s, while he had an established life in Kingston and had lived there for years. We had been dating for about a year and a half when I was accepted into medical school in London Ontario… a 4-hour drive from Kingston. We discussed Chris moving to London briefly but his job in Kingston was phenomenal and we knew we ideally wanted to settle in Kingston. It seemed short-sighted to have Chris quit his job, sell his house and move to London for four years only to (hopefully) move back to Kingston. We also knew that we could always re-evaluate as things we went along and change our minds to have Chris move if we were having too hard of a time being apart.
All of that to say that in late August 2017, Chris and I packed all of my stuff into his truck and drove across Ontario to London to move me in. And so began our 4 year LDR.
Chris and I are lucky that we have been able to see each other most weekends. It means a lot of driving which is exhausting, but it’s totally worth it. I guess that might be my first point of making an LDR work, both people have to be committed to it. Driving 4 hours through Toronto on a Friday evening after a full week of work is not fun. It sucks. There are times I arrive in Kingston, kiss Chris hello (grumpily) and walk straight to bed. Not exactly the romantic “open the door, sweep you up into a big kiss and laugh happily” montage we see in movies. It ain’t pretty. But having the rest of the weekend together really makes a difference and I end up feeling recharged after that time together.
The next thing I quickly learned is that talking on the phone or over FaceTime is just not the same as being together in person- mainly, the lack of hugs. When you’re tired, sometimes you just don’t have the energy to talk. But then both people end up just staring at the screen in silence or you feel like you’d rather not be Facetiming. Is it that you have nothing in common anymore?! No, not at all. We are both likely just tired and have things to do (which if we were together we could DO together, but end up being distractions when trying to catch up from afar). One of the biggest challenges with long distance is this lack of physical ability to DO things together. Chris and I have tried to get around this by watching TV shows and movies together. We’ll be on Facetime and start an episode or movie at the same time. It’s fun to look down at your phone when something funny happens in the movie and see the other person laughing too.
“Find what works” would be my next piece of advice. For us, this means a lot of driving. We both like seeing each other frequently so commit to driving often. Another thing we discovered that works for us is grocery shopping and meal prepping for both people on the weekend. This means that the “traveller” drives home Sunday with a full cooler of food for the week. That way they don’t come home late Sunday night to an empty house AND an empty fridge. Another thing that works for us is calling each other during our morning commutes as it tends to be a chunk of free time for both of us to chat. While these examples have helped make our LDR easier, each relationship will have its own unique routines that “work”.
The biggest thing at the end of the day, just like any relationship, is the right partner. Long distance relationships very quickly show you if you have picked the right person. Chris is the most selfless, loyal, kind and caring person I know. He has ordered skip the dishes for me many times after a long day while I am driving home so that the food arrives only a few minutes after I get home. He can’t make me dinner from far away, but he has found a way to take care of me and my hanger from afar. We often hide notes for each other when we part ways after a fun weekend for the other person to find later. It’s the small stuff. It’s the right person.
When people ask how long distance is, I don’t say great because it sucks to be apart from the person that you love. We try to make the most of the summers and vacation that we have had to spend some uninterrupted time together. This past summer we spent 3 weeks in Italy and got engaged in Tuscany! We have about 1 year left (out of 4 – whooo!) of long distance, and although it’s difficult, it’s worth it. Chris and I love the life we are building together, even if that means that right now we are apart.
Thanks so much for writing and sharing this Tori! Tori has been editing the posts all along, but this time I enlisted her to write her own. I may be biased, but her and Chris are rocking it <3