There are a huge number of downsides to being in a long-distance relationship. I should know – I’ve been in one for four years. It’s not dramatically long distance. We see each other every few weeks, and we’re based in the same country, but being apart for so long at a time can be down-heartening and, ultimately, very difficult. But there are silver linings to any situation, and I’ve become a better person through my experiences.

I am much more appreciative of my partner and the time we have together.

In the first year of our relationship, we were in college together. We spent all the time we had together, either on our own or with a group of our friends. We became so used to it, that when I moved away to university, the distance felt very strange. In that first year at university, we weren’t apart for long (usually only a week at a time) but it still felt like we barely saw one another. Then, inevitably, he went to university too, only this time we were much further apart. With our schedules so busy and money tight, we only saw each other once a fortnight, and that was if we were lucky. It made us realise the time we have together is precious, and we began to use our time more wisely. We also stopped focussing on negatives and argued much less, because we didn’t want to waste any of our time on negative feelings.

I am more sensitive to my partner’s needs and wants.

My partner is not a clingy person, so when he tells me that we’re not seeing each other enough, I know something must be wrong. He’s reserved with his feelings a lot of the time, so there’s a lot of guess work in it. If I have to cancel on him a few times, I explain to him that it’s not because we’re drifting apart, it’s just that sometimes life gets in the way. Reiterating these feelings to him makes us stronger, and lets him now that I’m aware of the way he’s feeling, even when he doesn’t spell it to me out loud.

I am much stronger as a person.

I used to cry every time I watched him leave me at the train station. I used to spend nights awake wishing he was beside me. And sometimes I still do those things, but I also have a much stronger mindset than I used to. I’m able to tell myself that this isn’t forever. One day we’ll be living together, with a family and a house, and we won’t have to struggle anymore. I know that even sooner, I’ll be seeing him again, and we’ll have an amazing time together, so there’s no need for me to be sad for long.

I am a better communicator.

I’m not one for long phone calls or Skyping all the time. I’m very old fashioned, and I like to text if anything, because it feels more natural than hearing someone on the other end of the line, and not being able to hear them. However, since my partner and I have spend long periods apart, I have adjusted my attitude towards these actions to strengthen our relationship. It keeps us going when we’re missing one another. I’m also better at expressing my feelings. I used to be a passive-aggressive sort of person, moodily ignoring him until he asked me what was wrong. My partner isn’t a mind reader (though I wish he was!) and sometimes, he is oblivious to something he’s said or done that has upset me. Now, rather than waiting for him to notice something is wrong, I tell him exactly what’s gone wrong and what he can do next time to avoid further upset.

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