Sunday, January 26, 2014

Making Long Distance Work

I have been inquired by multiple people on how I "made long distance work".
(I realize some people blog and say "multiple people have been asking…" when in all reality no one has been asking, but I promise, multiple people really have contacted me asking for advice on what worked in my LDR.)
As some of you, most of you, know I dated my now fiancé for over two years long distance.
It was the easiest thing I've ever done, we never fought, and I never cried and asked God if this was really the plan he had for me.
Obviously-- I'm completely lying.

Now, I'm not going to hang out all of our dirty laundry in this blog post, so if you're looking for juicy gossip, look somewhere else. 
My intention isn't to talk bad about Ken, our relationship, or even myself. 
Because let's be honest, that will get no one, no where real quick.

Since the engagement, I have heard some of the most endearing things ever, but sometimes I don't think people see the reality of the whole long distance thing. 
For example, people see all the traveling we get to do, the professional baseball world we live in, and the fun cities we get to visit, but there is a whole different side to all of those things.
People don't see the side where every time we leave each other there are tears (okay, I cry; he doesn't). People don't see the struggle to keep our relationship alive because we both pretty much do the same thing every day during baseball season, know each other inside and out, so therefore run out of things to talk about. 
(Trust me, when talking on the phone is your only way of communicating and you continually run out of things to talk about, it isn't pretty, fun, or romantic; it's frustrating.)
Or how when people say I'm "living the dream" dating a guy who plays baseball for a living, but they don't see the tears running down my face, or me (completely frustrated, happy, sad, and confused) saying, "this is NOT real life" to my best friend sitting there with big eyes watching me have a melt down when I am scheduled to see him in four days but have to cancel my flight (and lose a ton of money in the process) because the Rockies decided they want him in a completely different state on a completely different team. 
(Running sentence, I know, be quiet, it's my blog.)
Trust me. 
I wouldn't trade my relationship, his career, or our two and a half years dating long distance for the world, but I can say that it isn't ideal. It isn't easy. And sometimes, it isn't fun. 

For what it's worth, 
here is my advice.

1. Talking about your LDR to people who have never experienced one is a HUGE no-no.
Stop. Just stop. 
The next time a group of your friends are all sitting around hanging out and they ask you how your boyfriend/girlfriend is or how your relationship is- just say it's good. 
Nothing else. At all. Say it's good. 
Here's why.
I can remember a group of me and my friends sitting around one day and they were all talking about going off to college and how much fun it was going to be. The memories they were going to make, the trouble they were going to get in, the friends they were going to acquire.. ahh college at a university will be SO fun they kept saying. 
Then, all the attention shifted to me and they asked what my plans were.
When I told them I was going to do all online classes so that I could work and travel to see my boyfriend, I was bombarded with looks as if I had just told them I was dropping out of college all together. Instantaneously questions and comments were aimed and fired-
"Why would you do that?"
"You need to live a little!"
"How the heck are you supposed to get a Communications degree online? That makes no sense. Sounds stupid."
"You're gonna look back on your college days and regret not getting out of Tri-Cities"
"I don't think that's a good idea at all."

These were the remarks of people who had never experienced a long distance relationship (or even a solid in proximity relationship for that matter), and they were telling me how horrible my idea was to work and travel and yes, sacrifice a little of my "college experience" for my relationship. 
I was hurt, confused, and quite honestly- just mad. 

I'm not saying don't listen to your friends. 
I'm just saying don't take their advice on your LDR as Bible when it comes to something they have absolutely no experience in.
If you need advice, talk to someone who has walked a mile in those same shoes you're walking in. 
Talk to someone who has been there. 
Heck, read this blog a time or two, I won't be mad. ;) 

2. Stop talking so much
This one is short and sweet, but I think helped me a ton in my relationship with Ken. 
We text throughout the day sometimes, or barely just a good morning and goodnight text, but that was okay. We found (and this worked for us, maybe not for everyone) that the less we text and the less we talked on the phone, the better it was!
I know, weird concept, but let me explain. 
When we talked every day, we would constantly run out of things to talk about. He did the same thing literally every day, and so did I. I had my routines and he had his. 
We got to a point where we had to stop trying for quantity of communication and start aiming for quality of communication. We could get a whole lot more words in when we hadn't talked to each other all week; we looked forward to hearing one another's voices, and things naturally came instead of awkward forced conversation.  
So maybe the ole' saying is true:
Less is More.

3. Don't play the break-up game.
You heard me. You know what I'm talking about.
Everyone knows that couple (maybe you are that couple) that breaks up, gets back together, breaks up, gets back together, breaks u-… you get the idea. 
Can you just… not?
Seriously. If you say you love someone, if you're in long distance and times get tough, don't be childish and pull out the "well I'm breaking up with you!" card. 
It gets old. 
Wow, great threat.
The last time you broke up with him or her, you played this game of "I'm not texting first" or "the ball is in his/her court to own up to what he/she did"…. stop it. You're acting like a 3rd grader in a bad game of recess kickball. You know, how they keep adding rules to the game and say "that's not fair" just cause they didn't get their way?
That's you. 
When you play the break up game, you aren't accomplishing anything. 
In fact, if you're in a serious relationship and you're playing the break up game with someone who you consider possibly marrying someday- you're setting yourself up for divorce if you ever DO end up getting married one day. 
Breaking up with someone to get even with them isn't going to suddenly make them not mad and grovel at your feet for forgiveness.
Ew. You don't WANT a woman or man like that.
If I told Ken while we were dating, "You can never talk to me on the phone for more than 15 minutes!! I'm breaking up with you!!"
… you know what he'd say?
"...Huh?..Okay, if that's what you want."
And where does that leave me?
I'll tell you.
Single and feeling dumb for yelling at an introvert for not talking a ton.

Stop with the break up game.
Just work things out. 
If you truly love someone, if you truly want to make the relationship work, the breakup game has GOT to go. 
Be mature.
Stop being dramatic.
Most of the things that I hear people broke up with their significant other for are petty little things that probably wouldn't have bothered them in the first place if they didn't make that one relationship the center of their whole world.

Which so eloquently (or lack there of) brings me to my next point of advice. 

4. Your relationship shouldn't be your everything. 
Okay, let's be real for a second. 
We all have that friend who talks about their dog like WAY too much. 
Or their kids.
Or their job.
Or their relationship.
Don't be that guy.

I get it, you love love. 
I love love too. 
(Love love)
But here's the thing. When your relationship, or your significant other becomes your whole world, it's going to crumble real quick. 
In the beginning of my relationship with Ken I remember my every emotion was catered around how my relationship with him was going.
For example, (and I tell this to Ken even today- I honestly have no clue how he put up with a brat like me in the early stages of our relationship) I would occasionally (okay more than occasionally, frequently) nit pick the relationship. 
I would compare it to other people's relationships like ALL the time. 
We weren't talking enough.
He loved baseball more than me. 
He didn't talk enough.
I didn't get a goodnight text (I don't care that he just pitched in a stressful game, his phone died, and he fell asleep on his 8 hr bus ride home) I NEED A GOODNIGHT TEXT.

Come on girls. This will preach. 
I know y'all are crazy or were crazy at some point like this. 
You aren't fooling ANYONE. 
I was SO overly concerned with my relationship with him that I became emotionally drained, stressed out, full of anxiety, and never once thought that my priorities were out of whack. 

Yes, I put Jesus first. Well, by that I mean that He was the first one I complained to when I didn't get a good night text, hadn't got flowers in a month, or felt like I was the only one "giving" in the relationship. 
Truth is- I was over giving
I was putting too much thought, time, and emotion thinking about my LDR. 

Come on people this is real life stuff, and I know SO many girls (and guys!) who get caught up in the whirlwind of making your relationship your everything
Let me tell you.
It ISN'T. 
If it's meant to be, it will be. 
The relationship will go MUCH smoother if you just chill
Stop with the crazy. 
Just be yourself and let him or her be themselves.
What's meant to be will be. 
You guys break up, you break up. 
It isn't the end of the world. 

THAT being said, I am not saying to not invest in your relationship. 
Make sacrifices, be emotionally involved, care for your significant other, practice loving them unconditionally- those are the things you should be doing. Not spending time nit picking the things in your relationship (or your significant other!) that needs work. That helps no one.


That's it for this blog post!
(I know, finally, it's over, that sucker was annoyingly too long)
Let me know what works for your LDR, how this blog may have helped you out, or how maybe I have no clue what I'm talking about- either way, let me know! :)