As many of you know – and if you don’t – HI, my name is Rome and you can learn more about me here and here -, my husband and I were in a long-distance relationship for 4 and a half years – mainly between France and Hawaii, but also Sweden and Hawaii, and France and Las Vegas. Basically, we always had at least a 9-hour time difference, if not 12. It was a challenge, I’m not gonna lie, but was it worth it? 100%, without a doubt.
I often get asked, “How did you guys make it work?” – “Isn’t it weird living together now?” – “How did you communicate through the language barrier?”, and the list of questions goes on.
I’m sorry if that’s a disappointment, but I really have no other answer than the obvious – Love.
As cliché as it may sound, Love is what made us go through 4.5 years of long-distance. It’s what made us think that all of the hardship was worth it.
Yes, there is a “but” to my super-romantic advice – it takes more than Love.
Here are my 4 pieces of advice on how to make a long-distance relationship work.
1. Make time for each other.
This may sound obvious, especially in a romantic relationship, but trust me, not everybody does this. A lot of people cope with the long-distance by living their lives away from their phones, which is awesome, and important – we will talk about it in advice #3 – but only to an extent.
There are tons of things you can do to make time for each other even at a distance. You can do dinner and cooking dates over FaceTime, watch movies together – we used to watch them with TeleParty -, play board games, and tell each other about your day. Talk about whatever it is you would talk about if you were physically in the same room. Heck, with today’s technology, you can even take a nap on FaceTime.
In short, try to treat your relationship as if you were living in the same city, to the extent possible.
2. Build a relationship based on communication.
As much as I believe this should go for any relationship, it’s especially important if you’re apart. Your partner can’t see you on a day-to-day basis, and it’s easy to hide your feelings because you only see and talk to each other through a screen, when you want to.
That’s exactly when communication is the most important. You can’t expect the other person to know what you’re dealing with, especially if you live in a different country – dating may be done differently in your country.
Funny example: my husband (American) and I (French) disagree on when we officially started dating. In the U.S, people ask “do you wanna be my girlfriend/boyfriend?” but in France, we don’t. We just assume that we’re dating based on situations. If you’re American, it might sound weird to you, but it actually works out, and I don’t really know how to explain it!
Moral of the story: there isn’t one simple truth. Both versions can be true depending on a lot of variables. In this case, an international relationship often comes with different versions of reality. Understanding them, acknowledging them, and explaining them goes a long way.
There can also be a language barrier, and once again: communication is key. How many times have my husband and I misunderstood each other because of the smallest language mistake? Too many to count. But it doesn’t matter as long as you have learned to talk to each other and understand each other’s cultural differences and love language.
3. Don’t forget yourself.
As mentioned in tip #1, don’t lose yourself in the relationship. It’s easy to want to spend all of your free time FaceTiming your partner. But the truth is – if you were living in the same city, would you actually spend THAT much time together? Chances are, probably not.
You NEED to find that balance between your life and your long-distance relationship. That’s the only way you will truly flourish both in your relationship with your partner and yourself.
When I was living in France and my husband in Hawaii, we would FaceTime when I was waking up in the morning until I went to school and then texted for a bit until he went to sleep. I had time to focus on my studies, go to the gym, and hang out with my friends. And then we spent more time talking on the weekends.
It worked for us, and I know it’s not how it works for everybody, but my point is – find a balance that works for you and that doesn’t affect other areas of your life.
Because let’s face it – the ultimate goal in your relationship is to eventually move in together. And for that, you might be the one who has to make the sacrifice to move away from your home. And as worth it as it is, you don’t know how much you love your country and your loved ones until you leave.
I LOVE my life. I LOVE my home. And I LOVE my husband even more. But I will never take France for granted ever again!
4. Always plan your next visit.
That might have been my favorite part about us being long-distance. The thrill of not only seeing your partner again after months apart but also traveling!! It was SO exciting each time I was boarding a plane to Hawaii, or each time I got to show him around France.
And I remember how miserable I was every time I was in France until I booked my ticket for my next visit. It didn’t matter how far away it would be – 2 months away or 6 months away. As long as I had a set date and a guarantee that I was going to go, I was fine. I could go on with my life and my relationship just fine.
Plan things together. Make projects. Most importantly, act on them.
A long-distance relationship, in my opinion – obviously – is totally doable and worth it, as long as you consider all 4 pillars: make time for each other, build a relationship based on communication, don’t forget yourself, and always plan your next visit.
Do NOT let anyone talk down on your relationship. If they don’t understand, let them be. It’s fine, it’s your life. If I had listened to every person who told me that dating an American was weird, was not gonna work, or that moving there was crazy, my life would be totally different today.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that your feelings are valid, and follow what your heart tells you to do. If there’s a will, there’s a way. There’s ALWAYS a way.
As always, thank you so much for reading me and trusting me. Shoot me a DM on Instagram if you need any other piece of advice on long-distance relationships, and let’s be friends!