Being in a long-distance relationship or marriage isn’t something that most people would willingly choose, but it’s a reality that many couples face. In fact, six out of the eight Southern Weddings ladies have been long-distance with their respective beaus at some point while dating or married!
The whirlwind of my and Logan’s respective job changes forced us into a long-distance relationship before we even realized it! Logan had been applying to jobs in different cities after graduating with his post-grad degree, so it wasn’t a surprise when he was offered and accepted a job in Atlanta, GA. He moved within two weeks of accepting the offer. Less than a month later, I officially joined the Southern Weddings team, based in Chapel Hill, NC. Needless to say, our job changes meant that we were firmly rooted in two different states for the immediate future.
There’s no shortage of wonderful tips on long-distance dating, but I wanted to share what has (and hasn’t!) worked for us over the course of the past ten months. My hope is to offer practical advice, but also to encourage you to focus on creating memories in this season instead of longing for the day when the two of you are reunited!
Resist the urge to spend all your time together. This sounds like I added it to the wrong list, doesn’t it? Yes, Logan and I are excited to spend time together when we see each other, but we try to resist the urge to be exclusive in an attempt to catch up on lost time. Some of my favorite memories are times Logan and I have spent with each other’s new friends or coworkers. For example, when I’m in Atlanta, we try to make a point of spending time with his coworkers or new friends and attending his church together. It’s a great way for me to begin to get to know his life in Atlanta, and vice versa when he visits.
Know when you are going to see each other again. Having a date on the calendar (as in, an actual date) for when you will see each other again turns any goodbye into a “see you later!” (Logan would approve of that Dumb and Dumber reference.) Of course, it’s tempting to count down the days until you are reunited once you know how soon it’s coming, but try to make sure you’re being present by enjoying your current city and friends in the meantime! As (I think) Jim Elliot said, “Be where you are.”
Make your travel time productive and fun! I’ve never been a big fan of driving (I’d much rather be the copilot and DJ), but I’m learning to make the drives more bearable by making them fruitful! I’ve come to enjoy my drives to Atlanta—it gives me time to process my week and recharge. I love listening to audiobooks on Audible, catching up on my favorite podcasts, and listening to my favorite Spotify playlists (Hamilton, anyone?). Leaving Atlanta on Sunday afternoons can often be sad, so I’ve created a tradition to stop and treat myself to a guilty pleasure of mine for dinner—buffalo wings! Whether you’re driving or flying, use your travel time to your advantage and make it enjoyable!
Know each other’s schedules. Make a point to touch base on Sunday evenings and ask “What does your week look like?” or to share Google calendars with one another. Even if the initial answer is “normal” or “boring,” just keep asking questions! This is great for two reasons: you won’t set unrealistic expectations to hear from your significant other when they have plans, and you’ll know how to follow-up after your days.
Find encouragement. Logan and I had only been living in separate cities for a few weeks when I interviewed with the SW team. Up until that point, everyone’s first question upon finding out about his job had been “When are you moving to Atlanta?” instead of asking how I was feeling. To be honest, it was pretty discouraging that more people cared about my timeline than my heart. If you’ve followed Lisa and Dave’s relationship, you know that they were long-distance for more than a year before Dave moved to NC. When I shared about Logan’s recent move with the team, Lisa immediately said, “Oh my goodness, how are you doing?” The fact that she cared more about my heart than when I was making a transition meant more to me than I could say. She has been a consistent source of encouragement (along with many others!) throughout these past ten months, often texting me on my Sunday drives home to say she was thinking and praying for me. Find the people who will encourage you and cheer you on in this season!
Communicate, but don’t over-communicate. Be honest about how you’re feeling. Talk about what is and isn’t working, but remember that every conversation doesn’t have to be a serious one, nor does it need to be a lengthy one! Some of my favorite FaceTimes with Logan have been quick conversations, like while he is making dinner after getting home from work. He sits the phone on his counter while he “cooks,” and we talk about our days. When he finishes cooking, we often hang up for the evening. These conversations last no more than ten minutes, but they remind me of some of my favorite memories—cooking together.
Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Some of my friends who are in long-distance relationships talk on the phone every night. Logan and I are not big fans of talking on the phone, so we don’t do that very often. And that’s okay! For a while, I felt guilty about not talking each day, asking myself “Does this make me a bad girlfriend?” or “Are we really not that serious?” until Logan graciously reminded me that I was being silly, or perhaps ridiculous. We try to touch base each day in some form, but I’ve learned that pressuring ourselves to fit into a mold feels forced and inauthentic. Don’t worry about fitting into every guideline you see about long-distance dating or marriage—this list included!—but do what works best for the two of you!
My final piece of encouragement: this is worth it. Don’t view being in the same place geographically as a “light at the end of the tunnel.” You can learn so much in this season, so don’t wish it away.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Feel free to comment below or email me at Jess@SouthernWeddings.com—I love hearing from you!