Friday, May 4, 2012

A 12 Day Break From Long Distance!

Three hours from now, I will be in the presence of my favorite person in the entire world!  My best friend/boyfriend arrives from America to visit with me for 12 days!  The last time I saw him was December 31, and I could not be more excited get to be with him again in real time!

Believe it or not, I'm going gently on the exclamation points.

On the day before he leaves, we will have been in a long distance relationship for a full year.  Gosh, that's a long time.  Give me just a moment to congratulate Caleb and I, because that's quite an achievement.  And, after mid-May, we'll still have 7 months before we're back in the same tri-county area.  Here's to perseverance and to thriving in the midst of it.

When people first learn that I have a boyfriend back home, they often say things like, "wow, that must be hard," or "gosh, I'm sorry."  I'm getting better at accepting their concern while still telling them that I wouldn't have it any other way.  Ha, except for having him here.  But really, it's been bloody hard at time, but, once I claimed that this was what I want and this was who I want, there was nothing that could deter me from pushing through everything to get to the other side.  Frankly, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Caleb.  There's no one else I'd rather do this with.  His support has been invaluable.  His constant engagement in my life, his encouragement of my interests, and his continual outpouring of love and friendship have helped me grow into a fuller version of myself.  He's allowed me to become the adventurer I've always wanted to be, and I am eternally grateful.

Heh.  Maybe I can pay the guy back by the marrying him.
(Sorry, had to say it.)

As anyone who's been in my situation knows, it's not all peaches and cream.  I've sought some serious dating coaching from good friends here.  I've had plenty of opportunities to mess up, to rebuild, and to eat my pride.  Sacrifice is becoming a way of life, and I'm finally finding just how hard love can be.  I've still got miles and miles to go, but here are some of the lessons I've learned on communication.

Don't make a big deal out of anything that isn't a big deal.
Rethink yourself before going bonkers over some small detail he texted you.
They say that for any relationship, communication is key.  This is the breakdown of Caleb's and my communication.

Made with Create A Graph

With the majority of our conversations happening in a medium that excludes the helpful cues of nonverbal communication, we've got a lot of clarifying we need to do nearly every time we talk.  There's also a lot of room for miscommunication and misinterpretation.  Keeping this in mind has helped me not sweat the small stuff.  A lot of our conflicts have stemmed from misreading what the other said.  Saying, "This is what I think you mean, am I correct?" has saved us a lot.
Save the hard conversations for Skype.
When things get deep, it's been best for Caleb and I to have each other face to face for support and encouragement.  You can say a lot when you're typing, but facial expressions and vocal inflection say more.  Also, when I'm angry or frustrated, it's a whole lot easier to not lash out when I'm looking at the person I'm angry with.  It's helpful to remember he's a person with a soul and feelings and not just a screen.

#1 Speak your mind.
Hopefully we've learned by now that the other isn't a mind reader, but now that Caleb and I are long distance it's never been more important to get everything out when he asks, "Is something wrong?"  If it's true that he can't tell what I'm feeling when we're together, it's even more true when there's miles and internet connection problems between us.  If something's bothering me, there is absolutely no way he'll know unless I tell him.

#2 Reread your texts before you send them. 
Piggy backing on my last point, there's nothing Caleb will know about my experience here beyond what I tell him.  If I mention only all the times I went to the dangerous part of town, or I mention only my guy friends by name and talk about them a ton, then that's all that Caleb's going to know.  I'm not advising deception, but I am advising building a filter for how you put things.  Those texts are the only window he has.  Make sure the window's a good one that won't give occasion for misinterpretation or worry.

#3 Remember that conflict would be different if you were together.
If you're a growing couple, then you'll be growing all your life, but I can't help but believe that things will be easier when we're together.  Granted, it'll also be much easier to yell at each other when we don't have to limit our speaking conversations to Skype alone, but I also know that we'll be able to hold each other when it matters most.  You know those times when all you want is to hear, "Darling, I'm sorry, I love you, and I'm here," and then get the biggest hug you could ever want?  You'll actually be able to have that.  Don't be discouraged by where you are now.  Know that you're working super hard on your communication (a vital tool!) and that this if you get to the other side of this make-it-or-break-it time, you've already got a lot going for you.

#4 Remember that long distance isn't forever.
Caleb and I want to get married some day.  Nothing's set in stone, but that's the direction we're heading.  If anything, we'll definitely get to hang out again once I'm in the States.  Having that to look forward to gives me something to press on toward.  I know that I'm working for something, something that's worth every ounce of frustration.  As if I weren't happy where I am now (and I'm completely in love and enthralled now), there are better times ahead.  How encouraging is that?

That's what I think.  I love where I am, I'm looking forward to where I'm going, and I'm doing my best on my part to make this season as painless and beautiful as possible.
Do you agree?  Are there any tips I left out?  I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!