Thriving in a Long Distance Relationship: the importance of honest and consistent communication

In many ways, I’m winning on all fronts (indulge my bragging for one paragraph). I’ve graduated from two globally top-ranking universities; I’m exactly where I hoped I’d be in my career in education; and I have about 3 hairs growing on each cheek (#BeardGang coming soon).

Despite these blessings, however, doubt always creeps in to steal my joy.

“Will an education degree pay off these loans?”

“Why am I in Boston and not NYC?”

“Are these the only hairs my cheeks will ever see?”

Truth is, none of my blessings will guarantee a debt- and stress-free life. And none of it will grant me a beard that connects. There is, however, someone who’s always able to restore joy and peace to my life—my beautiful partner, DiAnna Brice. DiAnna has been an unwavering force in my life since I asked her to be my partner three years ago. She’s intelligent, extremely driven, and drop dead gorgeous. She’s humble, but also knows that she’s the sh*t...And I love that we both love traveling and don’t plan on ever stopping.

Unfortunately, we can’t always travel together, and that means we’ve ended up going long distance a lot (i.e. for half of our 3-year relationship). She studied abroad and spent a summer working in Atlanta, and I spent almost the past year away at grad school miles away from her.

With distance and drastic time zone differences, making time for friends, family and personal growth can threaten the flow of a relationship. Early on in our relationship, we had to grapple with these added on layers of issues that came along with long distance before we established the deep trust we share today. Our experience has taught me that the key to preventing growing apart while living in separate cities is consistent, two-way communication. When you’re no longer in the same city, this stable communication can be difficult, but trust that it isn’t impossible. I know everyone has heard of people saying “I can’t do long distance” or “long distance relationships just don’t work,” however adulthood brings traveling and finding work in cities far from home for certain individuals. So inevitably, there may be phases of long distance in a relationship but I think with the idea of giving it your all and finding ways to communicate clearly there is a chance to have a relationship thrive.

When DiAnna was in Sydney two years ago, we were 15 hours apart, which meant our late-night conversations were always after I’d come home from an emotionally draining job. Most times, I preferred sleeping or simply avoided communication, period. There was no other way to fix this issue than to speak up about how I felt. Doing so led us to meeting halfway (we set specific times when we’d speak, and sometimes saved longer conversations for weekends).

That early stretch in our relationship taught me that communication, especially in long distance relationships, is a two-way street. Both partners need to feel secure enough to share their needs, even when they might conflict. In our case, she wanted to talk more frequently and I wanted to sleep and rest up for the next long day so we had to find a common ground. I’m confident that most issues can be resolved with direct, honest, and consistent communication. Granted everyone’s situation is different, many people worry about growing apart and even dealing with the temptation to cheat in long distance relationships, but these worries are more likely to become reality if a partner can’t or won’t communicate openly and honestly.

Despite our time apart, we’ve held it down and nip communication issues in the bud by doing the following:

  1. We speak: We set strengthening our relationship as the end-goal in any dispute...therefore we know our intention is to do the best we can for our relationship

  2. We learn about each other: we’re sensitive to what triggers certain emotions, positive or negative and we act accordingly. We try to evaluate our likes and dislikes and get to the core of certain reactions either of us have during a discussion or misunderstanding

  3. We (try hard to) forgive: We both mess up, but we forgive even more.

  4. We brunch (again, hard): Whenever we’re back on good terms, we eat and drink until we can’t remember our grievances.

  5. We love: we express our love and support for each other every day, whether it’s sending funny gifs or quick pep-talk texts during rough days at work.

Not going to lie, long distance is challenging, but it’s worth it when you know your partner will be there at the other end holding you down. When thinking of the most possible difficult situations, I remember that I have her support no matter the scenario. I don’t know how long we’ll continue being long-distance, but I’m confident that it’s finna be a breeze because were both dedicated to growing together!

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