Sometimes the road to love is a complicated journey. This is never truer than for long distance relationships. Even after finally reaching the other side of the tunnel, you may find temporary hiccups along the way that slow down your end goal of togetherness. I’ve had the misfortune of returning to long distance after 10 months of living together, and 3.5 years before that of long distance. If you need some reassurance, advice, or insights into what it’s like to go back to long distance after living with your partner – this is for you.
I’m not going to lie to you. Going back to long distance after living with your partner really really sucks.
I’ve gone from cloud 9 joy of uninterrupted quality time with my favourite person on the planet to a sudden jolt into a life I thought I left behind: long distance.
I’ve temporarily moved back to the UK after moving to Perth, Australia with my partner Kaz last year. He’s now back in his New Zealand home while we ride out the isolation and lockdowns around us.
Moving back home, leaving a blossoming life behind, parting from a loved one… It’s all a bit much isn’t it? Sadly, it’s a situation many couples face. In some ways I’m lucky that I’ve done long distance for years before we lived together. We have a head start!
It could be for visa applications like me, it could be due to work commitments, or it could be unforeseen circumstances. Whatever the reason and no matter how prepared you think you are, long distance after living with your partner is a completely unique challenge.
Whether this is your first time apart or you’re going back to long distance, these are the things to look out for and keep in mind when faced with long distance after living with your partner.
It’s funny how after years of being in a long distance relationship we so quickly returned to familiar daily rituals. Get up, message Kaz, get dressed, video chat, breakfast, good night messages, start work. It was like this for years, and here we are again. Picked up like an old friend.
It’s a strange comfort to know how easily we managed for so long, although it doesn’t diminish the sadness that we have to do it again.
The advantage of going back to long distance is that we already know what works for us. If this were out first time tackling distance I think we’d be struggling a lot more.
If this is your first time in long distance, try to establish a routine as soon as possible. Know the best time to call each other, get used to working out timezone differences, and get stuck in to LDR life.
We quickly returned to our favourite ways of long distance communication with video chats. It’s knowing how each of us cope with being apart that gives us the best tools for making a long distance relationship work.
If you can incorporate elements of your day from living together, even better. Chat about your day while cooking or washing up. Play a game in the evenings, or come up with some fun long distance date ideas so your video chats don’t get stale and you retain some of the joys you shared while living together.
I will admit, I don’t want to get a whiff of blissfully happy couples.
I have a pang of jealousy whenever I see lovestruck pairs. I’m frothing with envy at gushy Instagram posts of smiling couples. That was me just a few weeks ago, when will I get it back? How DARE people be so darn happy when I’m practically missing my left arm?
Such borderline neuroses is definitely an unhealthy attitude. It’s really of no consequence to anyone else whether you’re apart from your partner and certainly not their responsibility to diminish their happiness for you. But still. It kinda stings when you KNOW what you’re missing. It’s just within your reach, but yet so far.
You had a taste of it once, when will you again?
If a friend seemingly rubbing their happiness in your face is really bothering you – mute them. Stay off social media for a bit. If it’s in 1:1 conversation maybe gently ask them if you can chat about something else for a bit, as you’re having a rough day missing your partner.
If they’re a good friend they will understand. Make it clear you are genuinely happy for their happiness but it’s a sore reminder of what you’re missing out on at the moment. When you’re feeling better, directly ask them about their partner so they know you definitely do care.
Factors Beyond Your Control
Likewise, I feel some resentment for my job keeping me here, the events that I am meant to be attending, the immigration departments taking their sweet time, anything that I can blame I will. How dare there be happy occasions and processes to follow without considering the impact this has on my relationship?!
In my case, this stretch of long distance coincides with various events, visa applications, and my work commitments. The trifecta of long distance causes.
While these three are important and unavoidable reasons to be away from my partner, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating. It feels like we just got started and now these are getting in the way!
It’s incredibly selfish, but it really does give conflicting feelings of joy and sadness when you’re trying so damn hard to progress your relationship while also getting stopped at every turn.
Events in particular are stressful. You’ve come all this way for someone else and can’t be with the person you love most. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but acceptance is the first step to getting past the resentment.
Focussing on the positives rather than be consumed by the negatives will get you through.
Resentment is not a healthy attitude to hold, I’m very aware of that. It’s something I can work on which is closely tied to the patience of knowing this temporary LDR will end. AND I get to enjoy some awesome occasions with people I love.
Remembering It’s Temporary
This phase of long distance in your relationship WILL end.
It did before, and this is only a temporary intermission from your lives together. If this is your first time managing a long distance relationship, it might feel like that end point is so far away it’s barely in sight.
My advice here is to keep busy. Use the time to work on some of your own projects, or catch up with friends, or start a new hobby. You’d be surprised at how many benefits of long distance there can be – take a look here for some inspiration!
Although there may not be a clear end date in sight, there will be soon enough. Make a list of all the things you want to do together when you’re reunited. Give yourself something to look forward to when you’re back together.
A Lifetime Ago
It feels like a different dream life where we lived together. Although it was only a few weeks it could be years. The sudden change in environment and location is jarring but familiar.
Remind yourself of the good times had so recently, and keep in mind that you DID achieve your goals once and you will again.
We regularly look back at photos together, plan imaginary return trips to Croatia, Rhodes, and Perth. Allow yourself to feel the nostalgia of good times past, but also lean in to the good feelings of warm fuzzy love that you’re so lucky to have experienced.
Patience Is A Virtue
You’ve had a taste of life together. You know it works and you want more. But it’s so far out of your reach because you’re now back right where you started.
Life feels unfair doesn’t it?
We say how much we miss each other more than ever. This time, we really have something to miss. Although we missed each other before during long distance it was the idea of each other we miss most. Now, I can honestly say I miss being together. The simple joys in waking up next to your partner, doing the food shop together, of shared laughter and touch.
Without a clear end date to the long distance we now face it’s particularly challenging. The waiting and uncertainty is unbearable at times, but we must be patient.
At this point I must add how easy it is to look through rose-tinted glasses at your life together. I’m sure there were disagreements and stressful times too. Don’t forget those, either.
Channel your patience to knowing that a happier but realistic time is waiting for you. In being patient, you should try to utilise the present time you have. Don’t wish away the duration of your long distance relationship. As mentioned above, this could be a good opportunity to give yourself time you previously didn’t have.
In our case, one reason I returned home was to apply for a new visa and await the result. All longwinded forms and complicated government processes are stressful, but this is amplified by the knowing that all our ability to reunite hinges on the success.
I have had more than a couple of stress dreams about the visa application, and it’s a constant source of worry for me. But, it’s done and is out of my hands. I just have to wait…
Shuffling around between your old home and the new one, and changing the structure of your daily lives induces a lot of admin. With admin, often comes anxiety.
Be kind to yourself, give plenty of time to get tasks done, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Although you are apart, you are still a team. Work on tasks together, and distribute particularly worrying factors like costs (visas are EXPENSIVE!) fairly.
Not only does this ease the pressure of your long distance admin, but it’s a great skill to use in the future.
You friends and family who know that you face a bout of long distance are right here to support you. If you’re lucky enough to be close to them geographically, make the most of this! A friendly video chat, dinner date, or activity from your best buds is sure to perk you up.
While friends and family are no replacement for your partner, they will be there to lend an ear when you’re feeling low, or to offer some advice when things becoming overwhelming.
This new normal of long distance after living with your partner is bound to feel overwhelming and at times quite isolating. Your support are ready to be of help when you need.
I can’t count how many times a good friend has messaged to ask how I’m doing since being away from Kaz. It’s a nice distraction as well as wonderfully heart-warming to know they sympathise with the situation.
If you’re looking for more advice on long distance after living with your partner, feel free to drop me a comment or message! I know these circumstances can be scary and challenging – but you’ll be great!
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