Long-Distance Love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, most couples are planning on some way to commemorate the day – together.

That celebration may take on many different forms, but most will celebrate.

Dinner. A movie. Date night away from the kids. Something to show the importance of being a couple.

So, what happens when your significant other lives, or works, hundreds of miles away?

You get inventive, that’s what.

The number of long distance relationships, or LDRs, are apparently growing in the United States. Just Google “long distance relationships” and you’ll find more information than you can imagine on the topic.

There’s even a mysterious Center For The Study of Long-Distance Relationships, which dishes out some interesting tidbits.

For example, according to the center, the average distance apart is 125 miles and LDR couples only call each other twice a week.

So, while calling a long-distance significant other twice a week may work when you’re in college, it certainly doesn’t when you’re a bit older.

Trust me, I know.

For a long while now, I’ve been one-half of a long distance relationship. First I was in New England working strange hours and days, as in almost around the clock for prolonged periods of time.

I’d had enough of that, so I returned to Louisville. Meanwhile, my significant other, whom we will call “Sweetie,” took a job a few hundred miles of where I was based in New England.

Whoever said “all’s fair in love and war” obviously never dealt with a long distance relationship.

While the average may be a distance of 125 miles apart, ours is closer to 600. Phone calls every two days? Yeah, right. Try about every two hours.

What we’ve learned is that if you want the relationship to survive, you really have to work at it. More so, I believe, than if you’re both in the same home or at least city.

When one half of a couple is traveling, you get really good at overlooking the stupid things that would annoy a lot of people. You even look forward to those annoyances.

As my life unfolds with a committed partner, who happens to be in upstate New York most of the time, there are a few observations worth sharing.

You can’t call each other often enough. Even the most mundane life experiences need to be shared, since you can’t talk about them over dinner or at home at night.

Text even more often. If you don’t have an unlimited text plan, get one. Trust me.

Use some type of video chatting when you can, whether it’s Apple’s FaceTime or Skype. Being able to see your significant other, even on a small screen, is better than not seeing them at all.

And, book travel well in advance to save a few dollars and above all, make every weekend, or week at home count.

There simply is not enough time during the time together to get into arguments, or debates as we call them, about stupid things. Dishes still in the dishwasher? Big deal. Laundry strewn everywhere? Who cares. Things not exactly perfect around the house? It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is staying connected. Opening the mail, paying bills, dealing with contractors, talking about life and life’s annoyances. That’s what matters. And, don’t forget, never make the one traveling feel as though they’re only visiting.  That has potential to push a wedge in the relationship that may not be easily fixed.

One thing relationship experts might say is that a long-distance romance is perfect. You don’t have enough time together to lose interest in each other or let the little things add up. But, what they don’t say also is that you don’t have enough time together to really build a life together.

What Sweetie and I do is make every minute we have together count. If I’m traveling to see her, we find something interesting to do and see – everything from tourist attractions to complaining about the worst meal we’ve ever had together to finding the trashiest dive eatery that just happens to serve the most amazing homemade bread (If you’re ever in Buffalo, N.Y., try Sophia’s on Military Street and you’ll see what I mean).

If she’s coming home, we try to have a “normal” weekend or week together regardless of the rigors of the road. We still run errands together, we cook together and we plan things to do, and not just stay at home all the time.

It’s true that we see, and do a lot of things together. Memory building things.  But, night after night, saying goodnight via FaceTime or a phone call gets old.

It’s far better to say goodnight in person.