October 24, 2016

5 Mistakes to Avoid in a Long-Distance Relationship

Two years. That’s how long Spencer and I ended up being in a long-distance relationship. Two years of painful, mind-numbing separation, broken up by small interludes of reprieve in the form of visits, college breaks, and summer vacation. While I never had to go months at a time without him (my deepest sympathy goes to you, military significant others), six weeks was still too much time for me.

I was a big wimp when it came to a long-distance relationship, sure. I was in two LDR relationships before Spencer, and I promised myself I would never do it again. I knew my limits. But when Spencer decided to quit college, I had no choice. If I wanted him, I had to do the time.

Even with modern technology, long-distance is the pits. While face-timing helps, there is still no way to crawl through a computer screen and spend that much needed time with your significant other. So how do you get through it? Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t Wallow in Self-Pity

I was the queen of self-pity during my long-distance relationship. I would sulk, cry, be overly dramatic, and jump from one mood to another faster than a rabbit. I understand that this is a difficult time and you feel fragile and out-of-place without your other half, especially if all your friends are in dating relationships, but wallowing will only deepen your struggle.

So, don’t wallow. Instead, acknowledge your frustration, remind yourself that it will end, and move on to the next thing. It might sting to see your friends with their loved ones, to be blissfully unaware of how lucky they are, but remind yourself that this season of separation is only temporary. The best way to keep your mind off of it is to keep your mind on something else.

Don’t Cut Off Your Friends

I did a great job of ostracizing myself from my friends during my LDR. I was so so down-in-the-dumps about the ordeal that I either sulked or complained. I got gloomier and gloomier until I finally cut myself off. I would come home, go to my room, and binge-watch Netflix until Spencer could call me (and cry if he couldn’t).

This was ridiculous and absolutely no way to live. So, spend time with your friends. If it’s too difficult to be with your friends as a couple, schedule some one-on-one time with your bffs. Have date nights, go places, do things. While they probably don’t quite understand what you’re going through, your friends still want to spend time with you and be there when you need them. Being negative or gloomy all the time will do nothing for either of you, so focus on activities that bring you joy. Your friendships need it.

WARNING: These people cannot replace your significant other and clinging to them isn’t healthy. Be sure to spread out your time among a lot of groups or people so that you don’t end up smothering one person.

Don’t Be Inactive

Being idle is probably the worst thing for your state-of-mind. You need to be occupied. Now is the time to learn a language, pick up an instrument, learn a trade, start a band, write your novel, join a club, take up photography, get fit, learn to cook, or what have you. Throw yourself into a new passion and limit the window of opportunity you have to start thinking about how sad or lonely you feel.

This is something I absolutely should have done to handle my brooding. I never “felt like it,” and therefore never started. If I had, I would have probably boosted my mood and gotten through it with less damage. Don’t keep yourself down. This is like your anit-wallow medicine. When you start to feel glum, rush towards your new hobby (or favorite one). If idle hands are the devil’s tools, then idle minds are the breeding ground for gloom. Get active.

Don’t Fight It 

Before Spencer left, I did everything in my power to convince him to stay. Everything. Nothing worked. When we were apart, I did everything I could think of to try and get him to come back. Nothing worked. Then I tried to figure out how I could come home and be closer to him. Still, nothing fell into place.

I spent way too much time fighting the situation than leaning into it. By fighting it, I incited more self-pity and rage from the frustration of it all. Perhaps if I had leaned into it more, I could have embraced the season of life I was in and move forward with more grace.

So try and lean into this. I know that sounds trite when you’re in pain, and that the emptiness feels like a weight of bricks on your back. But remember the end game. Remember why you are going through this. Don’t ask why other people don’t have to – this is aimless, and you have no idea what they do have to walk through.

Don’t waste your time trying to work out how to solve your situation. If it’s going to happen, the opportunity will present itself clear as day. Otherwise, you’re taking up a lot of emotional room for hope that will likely be deferred.

Don’t Forget Your Comforter 

I should have taken my sorrows to God. I’m not sure if I blamed God or not for my situation, but I had dug myself so deep in self-pity that I wasn’t sure how to relate to anyone, including Him. But if I had taken my cares to Jesus, He would have sent me the Comforter and He would have healed my wounds.

Remember that Jesus had to spend 33 years in a long-distance relationship with His Father, someone He had shared a oneness with that we can never fully comprehend. He fought His enemy on all sides, and focused on prayer to get Him through that time apart. He had a mission – and He was focused on it. He kept his friends close, and He stayed active in his ministry. When the sins on the cross truly severed the connection between Them, the sorrow of that separation killed our Savior. But even still, He rose again and the Father and Christ are united in a way that will never be broken.

Jesus knows the sorrow of separation. He knows your pain and deeply understands how hard this distance is for the both of you. Turn your eyes upon Him and unload your toughest sorrows at the feet of the Savior. He will comfort you, and see you through this. And He will rejoice when you two are reunited.

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  • Ruth Ann Christ

    Very good advice. I enjoyed reading your comments. Keep up the good job.

    October 24, 2016 at 10:46 am Reply
  • Janine

    Paige- this was beautifully written. I know how sad you were to be apart from Spencer all that time. This article has many gems in it that I am sure will help others.

    October 24, 2016 at 12:58 pm Reply
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