Long-distance relationships are hard. We all know this – it’s why, when I break the news that David lives in Ohio and I live in Massachusetts, I’m often told my relationship is doomed to fail. But what happens when the difficulties of a long-distance relationship manifest as depression?
Some people might tell you to end the relationship. That’s not why I’m here. As a girl in a long-distance relationship, I feel your pain – but I also understand why it’s worth suffering through months of separation to make a relationship work. I understand why, after crying in the airport or getting angry watching PDA in the library for the thousandth time, you would still want to be with someone who makes your days brighter and your nights calmer – plane tickets and time differences be damned.
I get it. I’ve been there, too. I’ve had breakdowns in my bedroom at 11:00 PM just because I miss my boyfriend, and I’ve cursed random strangers for holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. I’ve impulsively bought plane tickets I could barely afford so I could visit my significant other, only to pack up and leave two short days later.
Some people wouldn’t think any relationship is worth the stress, but with David, I do. And that’s why I’m here: not to tell you to end your long-distance relationship for the sake of your mental health, but to teach you how to cope when going the distance gets tough.
Because it will be tough. If you haven’t gone long-distance before and are considering it, know that everything we say about how difficult, lonely and isolating it can be is true. But know this: it can also be incredible.
We never talk about how things that are “ordinary” for most couples – like hugging or holding hands or eating takeout on the couch – become even more special when you see your partner for the first time in six weeks. We don’t talk about how it doesn’t matter what you and your partner do when you’re together, because it doesn’t matter: you’re together, and that’s what counts.
Being in a long-distance relationship teaches you to savor the little moments in your relationship that are worth remembering. To me, this element of long-distance is a blessing in disguise. Many of the problems my friends have in their relationships – not having enough date nights; not talking on the phone enough – don’t affect me because of the unique nature of my LDR.
Yet there are problems unique to long-distance relationships, too – like the overwhelming sadness that often hits me a few days after I leave from visiting David. When I get back from a trip to see my significant other, the sky looks a little cloudier; my wardrobe gets a little grayer; my classes feel a little less interesting. The place that once felt like home to me only feels like half a home, because something is missing. Someone is missing.
This is the feeling I mean when I write the words “depressed from a distance” – and this is the feeling I am trying to help you cope with when I share my tips below. Keep reading to see how I cope with sadness in my long-distance relationship, and how my tips can help you cope, too.
Help Each Other Cope
One of the most positive things about being in a long-distance relationship is that you automatically have at least one person close to you who understands exactly how you feel: your significant other! While some people deal with distance better than others, it’s never easy to be separated from the love of your life. Chances are, if you’re sad and missing your S.O. , so are they. So, don’t shy away from talking about your feelings – swap anecdotes about how hard the past week apart has been, or how much you miss each other. Reminding each other that you are not alone will both strengthen your emotional bond and make it easier to cope with your time apart.
Spend Time Apart
Ironically, sometimes one of the best cures for distance depression is spending time apart. In any healthy relationship, it’s important to maintain a rich social life away from your partner. The times I miss David the most are often the times I realize I’ve withdrawn from all the other parts of my life I love, such as blogging, exercising or hanging out with my friends. Make a strong effort to maintain hobbies and friendships away from the relationship that can serve as distractions and supports when you’re feeling down. It’s always a comfort to know that when you’re missing your S.O., you have a good girlfriend who’s willing to grab a coffee and listen to you rant about your long-distance boyfriend’s crazy schedule!
When the distance depression gets you down, you can always sit around and mope – or you can put on your thinking cap and get creative! One of the things I find most fun about being in a long-distance relationship is the challenge of coming up with exciting new ways to connect at a distance. Whether it’s planning a fancy dinner date over Skype or sending your S.O. a surprise gift, finding creative ways to work around the distance is often the perfect distraction from your separation sadness. Distance may hit hard sometimes, but with a little bit of creative thinking, you and your partner can find fun ways to hit it back!
Take Care of Yourself
Last but not least, as with any kind of depression, dealing with the LDR blues demands a certain amount of self-care and self-compassion. It can be easy to judge yourself for feeling down, especially when missing your partner doesn’t feel like a “good enough reason” to be so sad. But in the end, what helps most is showing yourself patience and compassion. You are allowed to feel sad, lonely and depressed sometimes – both as a product of your long-distance relationship and simply because you are human. So, instead of getting angry or frustrated and trying to stuff back negative emotions, strive to take better care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat regular meals, drink water and spend time doing things that are important to you. And before you know it, one day, you’ll wake up and realize it’s time to hop on that plane and start the cycle all over again!
How do you cope with depression in your long-distance relationship? Let us know in the comments below!