Navigating a Long Distance Relationship

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Cameron and I met at Gettysburg College in 2012. He was a new sophomore fraternity brother and I was a junior, soon-to-be sorority president. We locked eyes over a roasting pig at a BBQ between our two Greek organizations (Alpha Delta Pi & Sigma Chi, if you were wondering) and never looked back. We technically met at a frat party later that night. I was dressed as a barbarian wearing camouflage (just go to your local Walmart’s hunting department if you are interested in shopping THAT look), but Cam still calls me his Camo-Girl.

Five years later, Cameron and I are on our 3rd year of a long distance relationship (after 2 years at school together). Woof. I live outside of Philadelphia and Cameron is in Carlisle, PA, about 2 and a half hours away from each other. A manageable drive for a weekend together, but we can sometimes go up to 4 or 5 weeks without seeing each other if our schedules don’t sync up.

Over the years, we have learned a lot about communication, maybe too much. Not that you thought it was, but it hasn’t always been easy. It has not been without tears, frustration, *cough* a quick little break up *cough*, and many challenges. It can be especially discouraging when you don’t see an end in sight to the current situation. We cannot wait for the day that we are in the same town and I think it’s coming soon…

  

I sat down with Cam over coffee during one of our weekend-long dates and chatted about how we’ve grown and how we would encourage other couples in this same situation.

Q: Let’s start with the bad. What is the worst thing ever about a long distance relationship?

Cam: A few days before and after seeing each other is great. In the middle, the separation becomes more evident, work takes over, and you can get lost in the mundane aspects of life.

Jo: Definitely the distance….jk but I do hate the long drive alone. The worst thing or the hardest part is making sure that we are building each other up and loving each other the way we need to be loved. I’m a big believer in the 5 Love Languages; Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, & Acts of Service. Each person has their own #1 love language. A lot of them are very hard to do while far away. Typically when we are feeling out of sync, slacking off in the other person’s love language is the culprit. Take this quiz to find out your main love language.

Q: What is a secret silver lining to a long distance relationship that you didn’t expect?

C: You get almost a “first impression” feeling at the beginning of every weekend, like you’re seeing them for the first time.

J: I agree. I truthfully get insane butterflies on Fridays and put on lipstick like I’m going on a first date. I also love how sometimes we can actually look different to each other. Not in a surprising, omg you’re ugly now, way. More like Cam’s beard will get big or his hair long and I’m like WOAH BABY! You look so cool! It’s kind of like a wedding first look every Friday.

Q: Any useful pieces of advice that others have given you?

C: It’s worth it in the end.

J: This is just a season of life and it will end. Also, no ones story is the same, so don’t compare to anyone else or wish it was different. These challenges are growing us in such an incredible way and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Q: What is something that has been crucial to our relationship?

C: Unfiltered communication. There’s no time for dancing around an issue. If something is bothering you, don’t hide it. Also not going more than 3 weeks without seeing each other, if we can help it. That can be certain death.

J: Having a lot of hobbies and interests. We do a lot of talking, so sharing a love of music, creativity, Jesus, and so many other things has kept us from the same old, “how was your day”, conversation. We’ve read a ton of books and devotionals together and run a pretty exclusive book club over the phone 😉 If you need suggestions, our favorites have been Crazy Love, The Grand Paradox, and Devotions for Dating Couples. Also Facetime. Sometimes we are a little grumpy on the phone and we switch to Facetime and just seeing a face on the other side is like ahhhhh. Thanks Apple.

Q: How have we gotten better or worse at this over 3 years long distance and 5 years together?

C: We’ve gotten better at making plans and sticking to them. Sometimes we are actually worse at communication, because we’ve been doing this for so long.

J: Not sure if its better or worse, but our tolerance for a long period of time between visits has gone way down. Obviously I love seeing him more, but now 2 weeks seems like an eternity. Our first summer dating, I think we saw each other 3 times. Hilarious. When Cam was still in school and I had graduated, I used to complain all the time about the distance. I’ve gotten way better at not being such a negative nancy and Cam is always there to talk up our future plans when I’m glum. I’m still working on this.

Q: What are we going to do with ourselves the first week we live in the same place?

C: Go on a date in the middle of the week.

J: I’m probably gonna just show up at your front door with a bottle of wine and a wheel of cheese. Hopefully you forget that this is my plan so it can be a surprise.

Q: How would you encourage someone else embarking on this journey?

C: Don’t get frustrated when it gets hard, because it will. But if you now it’s real, then it’s worth it.

J: I know we would not have lasted without our faith in Christ. Growing together through reading Christian books, devotionals, and attending each other’s churches on the weekends has been our firm foundation. In the midst of the week when circumstances seem bleak, we can look back to the Bible or a song from worship and speak truth to each other.

 

xoxo,

jojo (& cam)

 

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14 Comments

  1. [I left you this same comment on a facebook thread]

    Awwwww, I love your story so much! There’s so much truth to it! It made me think of my long-term relationship in college where my ex was 1 year older than me. During the 1st year we were apart cuz he graduated, it was freaking HARD, and we ended up splitting up because we were living two separate lives and not as a couple.

  2. I give you guys so much credit for making long distance work! I don’t know what I would do if that were the case for Rob & I! probably cry every day hahah.

    xo megan

  3. Long distance can be so hard!! My husband and I did it for a few years on and off and it definitely tests a relationship!

  4. This post actually made me tear up a little bit. My fiancé and I were long distance for the first year of our relationship, and MAN was it hard. BUT it was so worth it in the long run for all the reasons you shared here. Those “butterflies” each time we saw each other, the increased importance of communication, etc. We are who we are as a couple now because of that vital first year – and he was in Florida while I was in Virginia – so it would’ve been a 16 hour drive (thankful for planes haha). You guys are gonna be SO happy once you’re living in the same place!

  5. Love these sweet questions and answers! Long distance is tough but it can be done. One of my closest friends was long distance with her now-husband while dating — he got a job upstate, she stayed in the city. They are now happily married with a beautiful kid. Love finds a way!

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