Long Distance Relationships | My Experience & Advice

A lil' something different on the blog today, but on a subject that's obviously very close to my heart. I don't really do a lot of personal posts anymore but I know that my relationship is something that I used to get asked about a hell of a lot, both online and in real life. As a bit of background info, my boyfriend Calum and I met back in 2010 on tumblr (the basis for every good relationship). We got chatting, quickly became really good friends and started talking on the phone for hours on end every night. Bare in mind that I'd never had a 'proper relationship' before and I was adamant that a long distance one was the last thing I wanted, I suddenly found myself falling head over heels for this boy that I'd never met before in my life. A completely random meeting had led me to find the best thing that's ever happened to me, but there was a lot of heartache attached because of the distance. I figured I'd do a quick post answering some of the questions I get asked most frequently and hopefully it will help out some of you who are in similar situations. Calum and I have been together for two and a half years now and we've been 'living together' since October 2012; proving that it really can work if you put the effort in.

Myself and Calum were a lot better off than so many couples out there as the distance between us wasn't unmanageably big. That being said, I've suffered with pretty severe anxiety since the beginning of my teens and I often found it incredibly difficult to be separated from one of the few people that could help. It used to take up to 9 hours for us to travel to the others house via train or coach, making it really hard to find time to see each other - especially when we both had college, jobs and our own social lives. Nevertheless we would literally do all we could to meet up every 4 or 5 weeks, even if it meant only seeing each other for a day or two. Making sure that we both made every effort was the best thing we possibly could have done and its the only real piece of advice I can give to couples in similar situations. Everybody has different things going on and I know that sometimes it can feel almost impossible, but moving things about and really making time for one another is key. It's a two way street and I know how much pressure it can put on a relationship if it always seems to be one person making the sacrifices, so try to share it out and split the time evenly between each others homes.

One of the other things I can definitely suggest is to make plans. Make plans for the long term and definitely make plans for the short term. Try never to fall into the trap of not being sure when you'll see each other next as life can easily get in the way - instead, always have your next date set up so that you'll have something to look forward to. Plan for the long term too; assuming you don't want to be apart from your other half forever, chat about how and when you're eventually going to make that step to be together properly. I remember times when I felt like it was never realistically going to happen, but Calum always kept me feeling upbeat about it all and we had so much fun making plans together and talking about what our home together would be like when we eventually got one! Plan for the next time you'll see each other too, time apart is rare and I remember desperately wanting to make the most of it. We'd always sit and discuss our next visits and decide on days out, romantic meals and duvet days to make sure that none of our time was wasted. It always made us even more excited to see each other and kept us feeling positive too!

The next thing I'm going to say will sound really cheesy, but finding a way to document your memories when your apart can be great. In our first summer together, Calum and I spent 9 weeks travelling to and from each others houses and not leaving the others side, making it pretty difficult when it came to an end and we had to accept not seeing each other again for another 6 weeks. In that time I took up  ascrapbooking and set about making a little book of photographs, trinkets and memories of our time together. Looking back at everything we'd done made me feel super happy and it also provided me with a great project that could help me take my mind off things and make the time go quicker. I still scrapbook and I love looking through ones I've created - even now. Being creative is a great way to lift your mood and it helped me so much in the time we spent apart.

Whilst myself and Calum live together now, it doesn't mean that the hard times have ended. I made the decision to move into Calum's house last summer as I desperately wanted to be close to him and I'd finished college so it seemed like the logical thing to do. Moving up here has been great but it's meant that I've had to move away from my family, friends and home. I pretty much had to start from scratch; settling down, finding work and building myself a social life when I didn't know anyone around here. It's been a long old slog but I finally feel as if I'm making progress - after 9 months of living here I'm beginning to see this place as my 'home', something that's made such a difference for me as for a long time I didn't feel settled at all. It's been bloody difficult, but we've got to this point and I feel like we're 10 times stronger as a couple because of it. Distance can make or break a relationship and if it works you'll have such a strong basis to build upon in the future; we've been through some massive ups and downs but I'm comfortable knowing that if our relationship was destined for failure it probably would have done so by now! Giving it a go is all you can do and I'm so glad we didn't give up, it's safe to say that we appreciate living together now more than anything as we know how hard it is to be apart. You can't force these things, but I wholeheartedly believe that it's worth giving it all you've got. In the meantime try to enjoy the positive things that come with being long distance, such as the sheer excitement you get every time you see each other and not having to shave your legs for weeks at a time (I kid, of course...)
Natalie Stubbs