Long-distance relationships — could you make it work?

It can’t be that hard to live in different cities… right?

Long-distance relationships always seemed implausible when I was younger: how could two people be in a relationship, yet spend their day-to-day life apart?

I had seen my parents go on work trips for a week or two at a time and all seemed well, but my media consumption also showed me the well-known trope of girl and boy in a long-distance relationship: girl surprises boy, boy is cheating on girl, girl eats a whole pint of ice cream on a curb in the rain.

But while sitting at the dinner table during one of my parent’s dinner parties, picking the green peas out of my rice, I overheard my mom’s diplomat friend say something strange. “Yup! This fall, I’m moving to Sweden, while David stays back in Seoul until next winter. Then he will come join me…” A unique situation notwithstanding, I started to realize there are nuances in relationships, and different things can work for different people.

Fast-forward 10 years, and here I am, two-and-a-half years deep into a long-distance relationship. When I moved to Montreal two years ago for school, I was forced to leave my partner behind in our country’s quaint little capital. Although we had only been together a little over six months, and had initially planned to break up like most people do when they start this new phase of life, we decided to give it a go!

Ottawa to Montreal is only two hours by bus, train or car — so when I say to people my partner and I live in different cities and they initially give me a glance of pity, I must swiftly clarify that it’s a mainly-long-distance-relationship-but-is-it-really-long-distance since we practically see each other every second week.

When I tell people how long we’ve made it work, they always seem impressed — for me, it didn’t seem exceptional — we were just like any other relationship. It didn’t occur to me that we were doing anything different. Yet the more I think about it, the more I see the differences between relationships where two partners live in the same city, and those where they don’t.

Here are a couple things I like to keep in mind when trying to navigate the relationship landscape.

Communication is key

This may be one of the biggest relationship clichés, but it rings more true than ever when you have to decipher body language and tone over FaceTime or texts. In general, 20-somethings have trouble communicating their feelings efficiently, which can lead to frustration and miscommunication.

In my experience, I’ve found that I often get frustrated when my partner can’t match my “energy” when it is convenient to me: you could call it a remnant of immature childish behaviour. I tend to take my frustration out on him, which has led to me creating an unsafe space for him to express his feelings in the past.

Rather than shutting down and getting upset that my partner can’t relate to my current state of mind, I need to allow him to feel what he wants, without it impeding my own expressions. In short, it’s okay to be experiencing different things at different times — acknowledge what your person is feeling, and empathize with them without letting it impact you in the now.

The independent side of your relationship

When you’re in your twenties, everyone is always expected to be mingling — going out and meeting all kinds of people. And I mean, I like going to restaurants, or even the occasional party or park hangout. All around me there is a perception that being in a partnership — especially a long-distance one — could have a negative impact on the quality of your classic ‘uni life’ experiences, but I disagree.

Maybe I’m lucky in the sense that I hate clubbing — so even if I was single, it would never be something I would pursue — but I’ve found that if there is a basic sense of trust between you and your partner, you are able to do all the fun partying and mingling you want, without the pressure of flirting and/or rejecting flirtation. Instead, you get to go make friends and then come home to a heartwarming text reminding you to take some Advil from your boo thang.

Speaking of my boo thang, shoutout to him for being super kind and driving up to Montreal every second week despite the parking situation in the Plateau — love you.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

Student Life

The power of love overcomes distance

One student’s experience and advice for being in a long-distance relationship

I have been in a long-distance relationship for the past year, and believe me when I say, I am happier than ever.

It all started two summers ago, when I went to visit my family in Beirut, Lebanon. I promised myself one thing as I arrived at the Rafic Hariri airport: no summer crush whatsoever. I was determined not to give in to the first handsome, charming Lebanese guy I met. For a little while, I stuck to my promise and enjoyed the sun, food and time with my family.

Two weeks later, I realized the promise I had made to myself was a hoax, and maybe love is just one of those things a person has no control over. That summer in Beirut taught me that love happens when you least expect it and in the most unpredictable ways.

I was sitting in a coffee shop with my cousin, casually sipping a vanilla-hazelnut latte, when a six-foot-tall guy, seemingly in his early 20s, walked over to our table. Slightly tanned, fit and sporting a beard, he asked if he could sit with us in the most polite, gentle manner.

After speaking with him for less than 10 minutes, it was obvious to me that he possessed the three traits I admire most in a man: he was courageous, down to earth and kind.

In that moment, I knew I had to give him a chance and overcome my long-distance relationship fears. The traits I saw in him, as simple as they may seem, are the hardest qualities to find in a man my age.

So here I am today, in a healthy long-distance relationship with a trustworthy man who never fails to put a smile on my face. I don’t see him often, and when I do, saying goodbye feels like a stab to the heart—but with effort and commitment, we make it work.

For anyone currently facing the challenges of a long-distance relationship, here are some tips my boyfriend and I use to overcome the difficulties of living in different time zones.

We send each other a text message every two hours

If we are not in class, writing an exam or sleeping, we send each other a text every two hours. No matter how short or unromantic the message, it doesn’t matter — What matters is that we are thinking about each other.

We communicate

We listen to each other. Whether he’s interested or not, when I call my boyfriend after a long day to talk about my assignments, he still listens carefully and shares his thoughts and opinions. This is something I admire. We always make an effort to show interest in the other person’s day, no matter how small or insignificant the details are.

We send pictures of everything

Whether it’s a picture of my lunch or a selfie while he’s brushing his teeth, visuals are the closest thing we have to reality. We use them until we run out of storage.

We pay attention to small details

A long-distance relationship needs to be handled with much more attention to detail than a normal one. Although I truly do trust him, all it takes is one misleading video on Snapchat to get me asking questions. When I’m not around him, questions and assumptions seem to naturally bubble up. I believe that’s just part of the long-distance package. To minimize this, we do not forget to charge our phones and check in. We always try to be as clear and straightforward with one another as possible.

We make sure our visits are as long as possible

We are both students on tight budgets, so needless to say, we can’t afford an overseas plane ticket every month. For that reason, we stay as long as possible when we visit each other. It gives us more time to make up for all the date nights and outings we missed during the year.

We are optimistic

Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Don’t count the days until the next time you meet, because the more you dwell on it, the longer it will seem. Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Love from both ends of the rope isn’t something you find everyday. So if you and your partner share that love, even when you’re miles apart, cherish it.

– Anonymous


Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Exit mobile version