I have been meaning to return to blogging for awhile now. So finally, here I am. Those who have followed me in the past would know my bad habit of always deleting, restarting and changing domains innumerable times. This is my nth attempt to keeping a blog, and hopefully this would be the one to last. I also said this last time.
Since this is my comeback entry, I wanted to write about a subject that is relevant to me at a personal level. I am currently planning for my wedding in 2018 with my fiancé, who I was in a long distance relationship with forever! Hence, what better topic to kick off my new blog with than sharing what we possibly did right as an LDR couple to end up engaged today?
Like any relationship, there are myriad factors involved in making it fruitful and lasting. To keep this post short and germane, I decided to summarize the 5 things we did that was pertinent to starting our LDR and making the arrangement work!
1. Know what you are getting into and commit to it.
Jacob was already in the US Army for two years when we became a couple in June 2012. He had flown to Northern California from Hawaii, where he was based at the time, to personally ask me to be his girlfriend. We had been acquaintances in our high school in the Philippines, and were each other’s only contact from the homeland when we started talking. So our friendship was only built in the US over 2,300 miles away.
Coming out of a relationship that went sour because of long distance just a year prior, I was not so optimistic about how our situation would turn out. Nonetheless, when I bid Jacob goodbye on his last evening in San Francisco before taking off to go back to his work in the military, we had promised to stay together no matter what. We had no expectation for what the future had in store for us at all five years ago, but we committed. We were convinced to be in this for the long run.
2. Have a life outside your relationship.
Due to the sentiments of loneliness that coincides with LDR, it’s mandatory to have a life independent of your relationship! Though we often missed each other, we made it a point to be engaged in our own careers; Jacob’s in the army and mine in university.
I overloaded in college credits, got part time employment, volunteered for non profits, interned for a magazine… I literally kept myself busy because I did not want to be enduring empty time counting down the days until we could be together again. The more productive you are, the less draining the time apart will be. Plus, it also makes for more substantial conversation. Before you know it, you would only be hours away from seeing each other.
Months after I graduated from college in 2014, I had to move back to the Philippines. On the other hand, Jacob was deployed to Kuwait, where he stayed until March 2016. I had no choice but be preoccupied at work to evade the stress of worrying about Jacob’s well being day in and day out.
3. Go on regular FaceTime dates.
FaceTime, or go on whatever video communication tool that works best for your gadgets. Ever felt the desire to be next to each other, but without the need to be saying anything? That’s us when we run out of things to talk about.
Our FaceTime would be on while Jacob was playing on his Xbox, and I, doing my academic papers. I remember even putting him on mute on several occasions when his GTA was too loud for my liking. We would even go on Netflix dates with the FaceTime window popped open. Regardless of whether we were watching the same movie or not. What mattered was that we felt each other’s presence, seemingly just a computer screen away.
The most gratifying use of FaceTime for us was our video chat sleepovers. I normally slept later than Jacob, whilst he started the day earlier. The first thing I see when I wake up is often his love note that he left for me on his side of the world. Sleepovers were so routine to us that I used to have to apologize to my college roommates for expending beyond my allocation of our dorm’s bandwidth.
4. Surprise each other with sweet nothings.
I have a shoe box containing all of the handwritten letters Jacob mailed to me throughout our almost 5-years (4 years spent long distance) as a couple. It could be a random post card, a small stuffed toy, allergy pills, or anything really that he sent over. They all made it to my box of sweet nothings. I read and re-read the notes he sent me whenever our circumstance was trying, and it definitely alleviated the helplessness I felt for being so far from him.
His best gift to me was, and still is, Pancake. Jacob flew Pancake from Ukraine and had him delivered straight to my doorstep in November 2015. He is our little bundle of joy.
5. Maximize every moment together.
Lastly, maximize the time you have together to make and capture memories! Utilize your free time to be with each other whenever you can. I think I visited Jacob at least four times in Seattle, where he moved to after Hawaii. Jacob took roughly the same number of flights to me in San Francisco, and drove me around regularly when he was in NorCal. We also celebrated NYE once for the 2013 cross over during a vacation in the Philippines before he quit his job in the army to be with me in our home country.
I could never replicate the pure bliss that overwhelms me when I pick him up from the airport in SFO, nor the grief that submerges me when we have to see each other off. I still recollect clearly my commute on Bart to and from SF Airport and Berkeley, always full of excitement on the way to see him, and returning with a piece of me missing.
Now that Jacob and I have overcome the difficult challenge of being in an LDR, I still contemplate how our 3-4 years of long distance suddenly feel just like yesterday. Nowadays, we even look back to our LDR days. We remind ourselves about how we should never forget all the sacrifices we have done to be together, in order to appreciate and nurture where we are at present much better.
LDR is certainly testing, but it is genuinely simply what you make it. Jacob and I came through not because our relationship had some sort of magic. We merely held on and invested our faith and trust amidst the struggles that came with the distance.