#TBT: We Tried A Long Distance Relationship & It Actually Worked Out

Hanging out at the Venice Canals (in California, not Italy)
Hanging out at the Venice Canals (in California, not Italy)

Josh and I had been dating about eight months when he dropped the bomb.

His company planned on opening a plant in Monterrey, Mexico. He’d offered to help get it up and running. So he was probably moving to Mexico.

For two whole years.

I was 27 and not exactly sure what to make of it. Had we been dating long enough that he should’ve, I dunno, talked to me about it first? Would he be coming home a lot, or would he actually live there for real? Were we going to continue dating, or was this it? Could our relationship handle a long distance relationship? Did we even want to try?

Before Josh, I’d dated a pseudo sociopath who’s job took him out of the country for months at a time. He definitely, for sure, no ifs ands or buts about it cheated on me while away (found out about that way after the fact, so go me for breaking up with him before that even entered the equation).

Let’s just say I was jaded about the long distance thing.

But Josh wasn’t that guy. He was smart and funny and loyal. And it was an undeniably great opportunity, career-wise. I didn’t really worry about other girls. I worried about the fact that he hates talking on the phone, that he’d be two or three plane rides away, and that our relationship might fizzle without actually being around each other. We’re good together, but we aren’t the couple who can talk for hours about nothing. It’s just not us.

Fact: Hanging out and having fun is better than talking on the phone.
Fact: Hanging out and having fun is better than talking on the phone.

Apparently, he’d get to come home every six or seven weeks, which isn’t too bad. And I could visit him, for even a week or so. My job was flexible. Okay, I guess that could work.

We had a few months between this announcement and his departure. He rented out his house, donated his car to National Public Radio, and put his stuff in storage. We set up Skype, downloaded WhatsApp (do you have it? You should. Free texting via WiFi!), and threw a hail Mary.

A Lutsen ski trip the weekend before Josh said adios. 
A Lutsen ski trip the weekend before Josh said adios.

The night before Josh left, I wrote him a card saying something like, maybe this will actually be good for us. I totally didn’t believe it at all. We were at a weird place in our relationship where it felt too soon to “know for sure,” but long enough that I knew there was something there.

Honestly, I had low expectations.

But then something weird happened. The guy who didn’t want to talk on the phone all of a sudden did. We didn’t talk every night, but a lot more than normal. We WhatsApped every day. We watched Boardwalk Empire together, via Skype. And on nights we didn’t virtually hang out, I spent so much time with my awesome friends, which was tons and tons and tons of fun.

Me & my besties in Chicago.
Me & my besties in Chicago.

When Josh and I did see each other, we brought our A-game. It always felt like a vacation, but it wasn’t like we met on spring break and tried to make it work (side note: good for you if you made that happen!). We already knew we worked in real life, so these trips were a total bonus.

We appreciated every second.

He sent me flowers, too. And perfume once. It was really sweet and felt so romantic and old school. I’m taking this opportunity to share a photo of the most gorgeous flowers I’ve ever received.

My favorite flowers ever. 
My favorite flowers ever.

To be fair, none of this was easy. I cried every time we said goodbye, in person and sometimes on the phone. I did get lonely, I did miss him. We almost broke up once, roughly six months in, due to the fact that after this two year ordeal, we didn’t have a plan in place. Though I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get married, I didn’t like the idea of going through this painful two-year separation for just a regular ol’ boyfriend. Puh-leeze, those guys are a peso a dozen.

All of a sudden, on a rendezvous in Austin, Texas, we realized we were already well over the half-way mark. We started talking about moving in together. We talked about getting a dog. We talked about marriage.

Austin, Texas... we love you. 
Austin, Texas… we love you.

I’m convinced we never would’ve had those conversations so early in our relationship without the distance. Oddly enough, the time apart made us realize how great we are together.

Maybe this will actually be good for us.

My stupid card was right.

Four months before Josh moved home, we bought a Minneapolis duplex together (partially financed by the bonus he got from his company for moving to Mexico for two years!). I picked it out all by myself and he wired me his half of the money. Truly, that’s how it happened. A Hey Eleanor #TBT for another day!

Our life savings went into this century-plus old house. 
Our life savings went into this century-plus old house.

You know how the story continues: we got the dog, got engaged, got married. Blah, blah, blah.

Dear little Patsy on the third night we had her. 
Dear little Patsy on the third night we had her.

My best advice for long distance relationships? Understand it won’t be easy, but it is easier if you don’t dwell on the crappy aspects. Stay connected when you can (phone, Skype, texts, whatever), and when you’re apart, get a hobby. Hang out with friends. Travel. Exercise. Learn how to cook new recipes.

Make yourself happy with things outside of your relationship.

No one wants to end their day talking to someone about how miserable they are without you.

Make an effort.

When you can, meet up in a new city. Surprise each other with nice notes and cards. Send flowers or a book you think they’d like. Anything that makes the other person feel like you’re thinking about them as much as they’re thinking about you.

And if you don’t feel like making the effort (or they don’t seem to reciprocate), end it. Making an effort is the only easy part of dating long distance. That part should be fun. If you don’t feel like calling or texting or baking your sweetie some chocolate chip cookies, it’s over.

Remember, eventually you will be back together. The time apart does come to an end. For some couples, it really does work out.

I promise.

Making it official, five years later.
Making it official, five years later.

* * *

Have you done the LDR thing? Did it work out? What helped? On the flip side, what made you jump ship?

PS More on relationships– we did pre-marital counseling & the aftermath shocked us! Also, some deep thoughts on taking your significant other’s last name.

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Comments (8)

  • Michelle 2 years ago Reply

    I am marrying my LDR in June!

    We met at a concert in Idaho. And dated long distance for 1.5 years before he moved to Minnesota. (Montana just doesn’t have a lot of tech jobs so it wasn’t an option for me to go there.)

    We couldn’t afford to see each other a lot so we talked every day on the phone. We skyped. Sent care packages. And texted like crazy.

    We also had a lot of big conversation really early. It didn’t make sense to spend the time and money if we weren’t on the same page. For example, he is divorced, I asked him if he wanted to get married again. After he freaked out I explained that I didn’t necessarily mean married to me, but would he like to be married to someone again. If he had no interest in marriage to anyone he wasn’t the right guy for me.

    Like you our visits felt like vacations so we were nervous about moving in together. So worth it!

    To be fair, he wooed me for months prior to me letting him visit the first time. I wasn’t interested in a LDR again. Thank goodness for his perseverance!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    You know what I am talking about– putting in the effort feels exciting and easy when you’re really into the relationship. Good for you for having those hard conversations upfront. I can’t imagine going through all of that bs just to realize the guy never wanted to settle down again anyhow. It’s hard to ask those questions, but so worth it.

    And a persistence definitely pays off (as long as it’s wanted… guys/gals, this is not me telling you it’s okay to stalk or be creepy). That was big in my relationship with Josh as well. If he’s not wooing you, let him go! Guys love to woo a lady they’re into. It’s just a fact.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • April H. 2 years ago Reply

    I am now LD with my bf after 4 years together. I moved to Dallas for my job and he stayed in STL. He actually moved into the house I own there, so it has worked out well for me from that standpoint. I’m not ready to put it on the market yet, and he even pays me rent Haha! It is very hard being apart after so long together. I do plenty to keep busy, I go out by myself a lot, I joined a country club and have met many new people there, but in the end it’s still very hard! The fun things in life aren’t as fun when you don’t have your loved one to share them with.

    We are committed to do our best to make it work (monthly weekend visits, frequent phone calls), but we’re not ignoring the fact that it’s a possibility things could not turn out how we hope. I guess I should add, the main thing keeping him in STL is his elderly father who lives alone and doesn’t have any other kids besides my bf. I can’t really give him that kind of ultimatum, but I also don’t want to stay LD for years to come. So it’s a difficult situation. He’s not in any hurry at all to get married, which I’ll be honest, after 4 years irks me a bit. (He’s 35, I’m 27). So ANYWAY, I guess I’ll just have to see how things play out.

    I’m glad you posted about your situation, it’s very encouraging for me!
    🙂

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Good for you for moving, even though I am sure it was so hard. I think doing the LDR without any sort of idea on timeframe would be very challenging. It’s like running a race that you’re not sure has a finish line. Hope you guys are able to work out some of those details! In the meantime, keep making friends, going out and having fun. Time to yourself is so special and probably won’t always be the case, so make the most of it!

  • Morgan A. 2 years ago Reply

    My husband and I were "best friends" for years before we eventually started dating..then five months later he graduated college and immediately moved 12 hours away. I had just signed a new lease and our plan was that I would move once that was up..I didn’t even last 3 months before I left and moved there with him. I had to keep paying for an apartment I wasn’t even living in anymore. But it was all worth it. Long distance can definitely speed up the relationship, but hey if it works it works!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Great story! It’s like if you’re going to pay rent anyhow, why not NOT be miserable and just go ahead and move in with him?

    And agree– the LDR can be the freeway (or maybe autobahn) to a serious relationship or breakup.

  • Ashley 2 years ago Reply

    What a great story, Molly! Josh is a real keeper 🙂

    My boyfriend and I met in college, and we had a friends-with-benefits type relationship (mutual decision there) but we were really fooling ourselves more than anyone else. Part of that was the whole transience of college…who the hell knew where the other would end up, so why deal with all that emotional pain? He moved back to Connecticut a little over a year after we met, and I moved to NYC a year after that after graduating from college. This whole time we were only about 2-3 hours away from each other, so I would drive out to see him, or vice versa. Living in the city he was only a 2-hour train ride away, which made it even easier. We would see each other just about once a month and texted constantly. When he was buying the house we currently live in he started saying "You should move in" which prompted us to FINALLY commit to commitment. A year after that I moved in with him in Connecticut, and now we’re going on three years living together. It’s kind of crazy how that all worked out, and I really can’t imagine my life without him (and our dog Angel, too)!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    He is a keeper. And much like your story, it kind of took me awhile to figure that out! Sometimes it’s so obvious that you don’t even see it. Good luck to you two & your pooch.

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