This post is dedicated in part to answering one of the most common questions I get asked throughout my week: “how’s home/are you homesick?” I always struggle to concisely answer because, for me, home has never quite been an address. I know the people asking are probably looking for fun facts about the weather and the general condition of the zip code I was born and raised in, but I find home in the people who make me feel welcomed and loved. All this to say, homesickness is a feeling I associate with the strain of long-distance relationships.
This may come as a surprise to none, but long-distance relationships suck big time. This is all LDRs: familial, platonic, and romantic. They are all challenging in their own special, heart-wrenching way. That being said, stents(even year-long ones) of distance can be beneficial for every type of relationship. The following includes what I expected, what I’ve experienced, and finally what I’ve learned.
I thought I had this particular relationship figured out. After all, I haven’t lived at home for longer than a summer since I was 16. I thought my 6 years of previous experience had taught me all there was to know, but alas it is not so. Sometimes, much to my demise, I find that even at the seasoned age of 22, there is still plenty for me to learn. Living 10 hours drive from your family is one thing, but spending all holidays apart from them is a whole other matter. Yes, holidays can be a bit of a hassle: there are expectations to show up for many events and to be polite to everyone(even if they may be less than polite in return) and usually to bring something and for that something to be good. For some people, the weight of expectation drains the joy of holidays for them, but I’ve decided it’s better to have to bring the fruitcake than to not be able to make it at all.
I find this to be the most diverse type of LDR. No two friendships are the same because no two people are the same, but most of my friends fall into one of these 4 categories: friends that I talk to weekly and usually text daily, friends I talk to monthly and text weekly, friends I text often but phone calls are quite sporadic, and friends I rarely catch up with but somehow we manage to simply pick up where we left off when we do talk or see one another. All these different relationships require slightly different care, but there are some universal truths between them all.
You expect to miss your friends, but the pain of not being in their daily lives can feel like a huge loss, even like something in your life has died. In that same moment, a beautiful opportunity arrives, and that is to watch your friend’s life from a bird’s eye view. When your friend thousands of miles away shares stories with you, it’s like watching your favorite tv show where your friend is the star of the set. In addition, long distance venting is the best kind of venting because it’s like shipping your worries off to a far away land...even though it has the tendency to lead to very subjective advice that may not be applicable to the real world.. Mainly, you learn to love your friends purely for who they are, not what they can give you or the things you do together.
Romantic LDRs are work, plain and simple. The other half of your team has to be very special in order for the work to be worthwhile. If you both don’t put in the work, the relationship won’t be fed and it will therefore cease to exist. More than just hard, they are draining. If you and your partner find yourselves in this situation, God bless. All of that in mind, I wish everyone could experience this with their partner before they say “I do,” because you learn so much about one another and about how to not take the other for granted. They’re a litmus test for communication and effort. If you don’t love AND like your partner, it won’t work. It’s an adventure in its own right, like sailing around the world. It is incredibly challenging at times but shows you things and tests you in ways that other things aren’t able to do.
Out of the ordinary tips for loving the people in a land far, far away(thank you, Jesus, for the Internet):
- Marco Polo: it’s an app similar to Snapchat but only for videos and with no loss of memory. You can send a video as you’re doing anything and simply allow your loved one to get a peek into your life. It’s also impressively lacking glitches.
- Online games: I’m not a gamer, so for me this means more games like DragonVale and online spades.
- Personalized post cards: there are apps where you can use a picture( or small collage) from your adventures and write a personalized note on the back.
- FaceTiming and simply spending time together: this could mean one of you in getting ready for your day and the other is studying for an exam or prepping dinner or any combination of activities. Committed time for talking and visiting is important as well, but sometimes it’s just beneficial to have the people you care about there and let thoughts spring up organically.
- Using Uber eats for the people you care about: sometimes pizza says “I’m sorry this week has been hard” a lot better than a phone call.
- Praying for them: though this may sound like cliche, it’s something I’ve found really valuable because most of my day is during EST sleeping hours because NZ time is 19 hours ahead. It’s a way to express affection for my loved ones and wish them sweet dreams and fruitful mornings when u can’t actually talk to them.
Resident in Mission through WME