Photo by Emma West

In fall of 2016 I got the amazing opportunity to study overseas in Wellington, New Zealand through a program called ISA, or International Studies Abroad. This program immersed me into a culture vastly different from my own and I developed life-long friendships. This being said, I also met a fine lad in Wellington named Jakob who changed my life for the better. Our days of sharing sandy kisses on Oriental Beach and hiking rocky cliff sides have now been replaced with open chat windows and poor wifi connections. Some days I can feel every kilometer between us—all 14,000 kilometers. I constantly question our long distance relationship and question my self-worth. Because our relationship has changed to a more digital platform, this leads me to question: Does my boyfriend exist or is this another Nigerian prince stealing my credit card information?

I have come to discover that communication will make or break your long distance relationship. First, you need to have a conversation with your partner about how you will have conversations with your partner. This could mean that you set a specific night aside for Skyping, or you will send them a “good morning baby xx” text every time you wake up. You should be having conversations, big and small, while including the little mundane things to make the relationship seem authentic. You will learn to appreciate the simplest things that makes your relationship special. I did not realize how much I took holding my boyfriend’s hand for granted, until I could no longer hold his hand.

This is the digital age and that means you can access your significant other in the bat of an eyelash. Jake and I have planned times to watch movies online so we can spend time together and have something to talk about when all we can type in is “imy.” Our long distance relationship version of dinner is when we both sit down at a table eating spaghetti over Skype. Sometimes we even take our video calls outside, to go on a romantic walk. There’s even a magical thing called the post office where you can physically send a hand-made love letter to your bae. There are many creative ways to stay connected to your long-distance partner, just as long as you stay connected.

As I previously mentioned, communication is vital to your relationship. It is important for your conversations to be organic, instead of forced. If you tell yourself you have to talk to your partner every day, that’s when your relationship will feel like a chore. You will feel exhausted if you send excessive messages to your love and soon you will start half-assing the conversations which means you are half-assing your relationship. Your relationship should feel natural, not obligatory. Sometimes people get busy with life and they don’t message you for a few days and it is not the end of the world because they most likely still love you.

Next, I would like to mention the mind-twisting feeling jealousy. Once I saw a five second Snapchat of my boyfriend dancing with someone at the club. Instantly my heart caught on fire and my brain raced from one paranoid delusion to the next. “This is it,” I thought “I knew I was going to die alone with my seven cats while wearing a mu mu.” Later, I realize that’s his American mate who he has known since childhood, not to mention it was actually a guy. Jealously is an emotion that is bound to rear its ugly face in your relationship, so how do you address it?

If you feel that you are becoming jealous in your long distance relationship you must realize your partner still has a life away from you, and they are allowed to socialize with their friends. On the nights when they’re out and you’re home alone it is easy to feel rejected. It’s a good idea during these times to reassure your partner this situation isn’t optimal and that if you could be with them then you would be. Also, you have to be open and honest with your significant other when these feelings come up. You cannot hide feelings of jealousy forever, because the thoughts will continue to re-emerge.

I would like to remind you this is a time for yourself. Yes you are in a long distance relationship, but you are also a brilliant individual who should practice self-care. Often I find myself dwelling on the fact  the love of my life is on the opposite side of the world; therefore, I feel unloved. However, this is a ludicrous thought because you are indeed loved, because your significant other is committed to you, love is all around you and you are also filled with love.  Even though you are alone, you get to decide whether or not you are lonely. Keep yourself busy from destructive thoughts by surrounding yourself with hobbies, clubs, books and friends. The time apart from your significant other is a time to focus on bettering yourself. Once you learn to love yourself, you can then learn to love your long-distance partner even more.

In reality long distance relationships aren’t going to be long-distance forever and you will eventually see each other again and settle down. One day the plane ticket will be one way and you will step off the terminal and run into their arms. Remember you’re already bold enough to go into a long distance relationship and that you should not be fearful of being alone for a little while in exchange for seeing the love of your life permanently. Know that every mile is worth it and your love can travel because it’s limitless.