Fast-forwarding from the naïve, young and innocent 16-year-olds who met at a party in a crowded room five years ago and fell in love crazily soon after, my relationship with my boyfriend Jamie has of course, like every relationship, been through some ups and downs, and with almost every emotion in-between during the time we’ve spent together. The huge difference that we have is that we aren’t both at Uni or both working – I’m studying, and he’s working in a fast-paced insurance apprenticeship in London, which makes the dynamics of our relationship change and adapt. Whilst I am by no means any expert when it comes to love, having a long-distance relationship with completely different lifestyles really makes you think about the relationship and, at times, can be difficult, especially when surrounded by couples who are geographically and lifestyle-wise more together. However I have been helped along the way by friends and family in the same situation, picking up some insight which has really helped my relationship – particularly when it’s been almost a month since we’ve seen each other, we haven’t text in a while and it’s deadline season…
Communication, Communication, Communication – I know I sound like I’m writing a job application, but it took days of no communication and different working hours (him days, me evenings in my part-time job), for me to realise that without regular communication, you not only miss the small details, but also big news and what’s going on in each other’s lives. This can make you feel suddenly distant and disconnected, wondering why you feel this way, which can make the distance between you feel so much wider and further apart. Even if it is just a few texts a day or a 10-minute phone call every night, it is so important to chat and feel aware of your partner’s daily routine within the context of their wider life. It sounds silly, but me knowing about his commute to London, the colleagues he loves, the colleagues he can’t stand, and what he is actually doing at work makes me feel so much more connected to him.
Date Planning – I hate not knowing when I’m next going to be seeing Jamie, as it makes me feel uninvolved in his life, and it can easily feel like we’re not part of each other’s day-to-day routine. Even if just for a night, a meal when I’m back home for a few days, meeting him after work in London or him visiting me, it’s good to know about when you’re next going to see each other and not leave it open-ended. Planning weekends around deadlines does mean more library time in the week and forward planning can be a routine pain, but it helps us to see each other and be ever so slightly (like, a tiny bit…) more organised!
Being understanding of each other’s differences – This is an especially hard one for us, as it’s usually the cause of most arguments we have. Jamie was, for a long time, under the impression from his colleagues who both had and hadn’t been to uni that students don’t do anything with their days, so when I first came to uni he often half-joked and was half-serious about his life being ‘more difficult’ than mine, which turned it into a bit of a competition of whose life was busier. Our different nights out would also be difficult, as would the difference in money and of course holidays and spending time together. To add fire to the flame, I would often remind him of the combination of studying, working and volunteering I did, which wasn’t good for either of us. Now that we have both accepted that each other’s lives are amazing and different in contrasting ways, we really try to understand each other’s lives in a much more understanding way – although of course there’s no need for him to know about the lay-ins and afternoon naps I (sometimes) have….