Wednesday, March 26, 2014

After Long Distance: A Guest Post

I'm super-excited for my friend Lola to share her experiences of being in a long-distance relationship! I thought Beau and I had it hard when I lived in New York, but at least we were in the same time zone. Lola and her fiancée faced a few more challenges than we did... Lola blogs over at Living Here, where she writes about all of my favorite things, like travel, art museums, and books. Also she's one of the coolest people on twitter, so you should follow her there too.
When people learn my fiancee and I survived two years of long distance, I'm often asked for advice on how to make LTRs work. Honestly, I've got nothing. Not that it was a fluke our relationship survived, or that we didn't work (hard!) at it, but there's definitely no magic secret. 

What I do know, though, is that the distance might have been the easy part. Now that we live together, we've got a whole new slew of challenges to face. And while it's easy to anticipate the challenges of living apart, it's harder to anticipate the challenges of living together. Thankfully, the former prepared us for the latter in ways I'm sure neither of us could predict.

Scouting out wedding venues
A little bit of background: my fiancee, Crystal, and I met in college, and we were friends for a year before we started dating. We bonded over a shared love for the Red Sox. She thought I was cute, but it took me a while to catch on. After college, I first moved to New York for an internship, then to Warsaw and finally to London, while Crystal lived for a few years in our college town. While I was in New York, we saw each other about once a week, but while I was abroad we could only afford to see each other every 4-6 months. The last time she came to visit me, in London, I proposed. Now we live together in Philadelphia, which is the convenient midway point between our two grad schools.

In retrospect, it helped that my plans for moving abroad were a long time coming. Even before we started dating, I knew I wanted to spend two years abroad after graduating, so it was always on the table as a possibility. The fact that Crystal valued my fiercely independent self was one of the reasons I knew she was the one. My staying behind, or us breaking up, were never considered options. She supported me in my ambitions, and when she applied to grad school last year, I finally got to reciprocate.

Although we didn't plan it intentionally, it was also a huge help that we lived a few hours apart before I moved an ocean away. We adjusted to the distance slowly, learned how to coordinate our schedules for daily Skyping, and never took our time together for granted. 

While we were long distance, communcation became a central part of our relationship. We ended up talking through a lot of tough stuff sooner than we might have otherwise. Inadvertantly, we built a really strong foundation for us to build upon when we were back together.

It makes adjusting to the quirks of living together-- adjusting to each others' favorite brands when we grocery shop, arguing over Chinese vs. hoagies when we order in-- seem pretty inconsequential. We've had a few spats along the way (a notable one was about our rate of Diet Coke consumption) but we've also quickly mastered the art of apology. The bigger things, like finances, were topics we'd discussed while we're apart, so we're not starting from scratch as we delve into them now. We've already beaten the odds, so everything else is a piece of cake.

So: advice? Nothing groundbreaking, I'm afraid. Support one another. Communicate. Compromise. That last one would be my mom's advice. She was a Navy wife, once upon a time, and now she and my dad have been married for over thirty years. But I'm stubborn, and as I'm sure Crystal would tell you, that's the one I'm still working on.

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