6 Tips For Surviving A Long Distance Relationship


By Joanna Grey Talbot

The spring of 2014 found me living in Washington, D.C. – a long-time dream of mine. I was on the cusp of my 30th birthday and enjoying success in my job. Part of the reason I moved from my hometown of Charlotte to the even bigger city of D.C. the previous year was that I had just come out of a very toxic relationship that had ended as a result of him cheating on me. It was time for me shake the dust off of my feet and start a new chapter in my life. Needless to say, I was not looking to date anyone but sometimes life changes our mind.

My cousin, Alex, who I had been living with got engaged and was married in May of 2014. I had the honor of being a bridesmaid and little did she know that her wedding would not only be life-changing for her but also for me.

My mom’s side of the family is large and very close and we never miss a family wedding. One of the contingents from Florida brought with them a friend of another cousin who had been asked to help bartend at the reception. I had met Cecil before on a few occasions but had never really talked to him. This time God had other plans and we were thrown together multiple times and had more conversations over a couple days than the previous few years since we had first met.

After the wedding we continued to talk and send text messages and in July, without ever having gone on a date he asked me to be his girlfriend. I wholeheartedly said yes and, as they say, the rest is history. By this time, I knew I was ready to leave D.C. to be back near family and to live somewhere with a cheaper standard of living but my lease was not up until October 31st. Therefore, I was simultaneously dating a guy who lived 10 hours away in Florida and trying to figure out the next step in my life. As soon as we became official we knew we had to start talking it through and figuring out ways to make it work, especially with my future home unknown.

Thanks to everything from Google to friends who had dated long-distance to our own creativity here is what helped us survive for four months:

Communication is KEY.

I could not stress this enough. Except for weekly Skype dates, we could not see each other as we talked so we quickly learned how best to communicate with each other and how to become good listeners. Looking back, we realize that dating long-distance was the best way for us two introverts to start our relationship because it forced us to talk about anything and everything because all we could do was talk. If we had started dating the “normal” way we’re not sure our relationship would have moved along as quickly as it did.

Set a time each week that is just for you two and protect it.

We were both busy people with responsibilities and friends so we decided to set a time each week that was solely for the two of us and we almost never let anything keep us from it. Unless there was something unavoidable with work or a unique situation with family or friends, we always had a Skype date on Sunday evenings. No matter what happened during the week we knew that we would get to see each other’s face on Sundays.

Old-fashioned letters and care packages.

We are both old souls and me being a writer one of the ways we showed our care for each other was by sending cards and letters through the mail and the occasional care package. The first one I received from Cecil included a couple books he wanted me to read, two of his t-shirts for me to sleep in (I had asked him for one and he had sweetly obliged), and a small wooden sign that said “So many of my smiles begin with you.”

Skype/Phone movie dates.

In the time between my cousin’s wedding and us becoming official, Cecil had given me his logins for Netflix and Hulu. After we started dating we had a handful of movie dates where we would either log in to Skype or sit on the phone (thankfully we had the same phone carrier!) and watched the same movie at the same time. The first one we ever watched was a 1936 classic with William Powell and Carole Lombard called My Man Godfrey.

Planned activities during Skype dates.

We rarely were lacking for things to talk about but we also tried to do activities together during our Skype dates. The one we did consistently was drawing. Neither of us will ever have work in an art museum but we enjoy coloring and drawing. Each week one of us would pick a simple object like a butterfly or a fish and we would draw them while we were talking. It was neat to see how different they always turned out. Another thing we did was recommend books to each other and talk about them during our dates. We love reading very different genres (me – biographies and historical fiction, him – sci-fi and fantasy) so it helped us to get to know another side of each other.

Daily selfie countdown until our next in-person visit.

As our relationship progressed we made plans to meet in Charlotte over Labor Day (to know for sure that we liked each other and wanted to keep moving forward) and in Florida in the middle of October (after I decided to move there when my lease was up). In order to help us count down the days and give us an excuse to see a photo of each other every day we decided to send a daily selfie with that day’s number written down on a piece of paper. I would send him mine in the morning and he would send me his at bedtime. It seems kind of silly but it really helped us and was something we looked forward to each day. I even saved all the photos for us to look back at one day and remember.

Dating long-distance was one of the hardest things I have ever done but was also one of the most rewarding. It forced me to be open and creative and find unique ways to show Cecil that I cared, all things that we have carried into our marriage. We have been married for just over a year now and neither of us would change a thing in how we met. We are grateful for the time we spent learning communication skills and it makes our time together now all that more precious.

Joanna is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

4 thoughts on “6 Tips For Surviving A Long Distance Relationship

  1. thewesternsydneygirl says:

    I love this! Long distance relationships do work and I guess we are both proof of that.
    I’m glad you mentioned the point of counting down until you see each other next. It’s super important. We used to book our next flights to see each other as soon as we got back from the last visit.
    Thanks again for sharing 🙂


    • Joanna Grey Talbot says:

      You’re so welcome! Glad you enjoyed the article. I love the idea of booking the flights immediately after leaving.


  2. Megan says:

    Oh wow, I just wrote a piece about LDRs for the blog as well! This is so great and inspiring, since I am currently in one, and have been for over a year. Thanks for sharing your ideas!


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