What are your best long-distance relationship ideas.
August 27, 2006 11:17 AM   Subscribe

New job has me travelling quite a bit. How do I keep my relationship strong?

I recently got a new job that requires me to travel during the week and be home on the weekends. While I love my job, I hate that I have to leave my fiance at home alone all the time.

I can tell that she isn't so keen on the idea, either, but I think that the hard work I put in now will really pay off in the not-too-distant future (this small company is really going to take off within the next year--and I have stock options when they IPO).

We try to talk on the phone as much as possible, but she works during the day and I work at night when travelling. When I'm home I make her my priority; I cook, clean, do laundry--all of the things she has to do while I'm away. I am open to ANY and ALL suggestions. This girl is the best thing that has ever happened to me and it kills me knowing that anything I'm doing is making her unhappy.

Caveat: We are not rich, so sending roses, etc. all the time is probably not an option (though I can afford to do it once in a while).
posted by ThFullEffect to Human Relations (18 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
E-mail, seriously. I don't know how keen she is on using e-mail but if she works she probably has to use it. Girls love getting e-mails during the day, and it has the advantage of you being able to send it off whenever and not have to worry about where she is or what she is doing. It won't replace you being there in the evenings obviously, but e-mail has huge plusses in paticular cases like this. Just make sure to ask questions and such to keep topics going, and nothing is too small to talk about in e-mail ("I had great steak last night, it was mixed with this gravy sauce ... etc."). You know, the inane shit keeps it personal and her involved.
posted by geoff. at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2006

Set aside time to talk on the phone each day. Seriously - put it on your schedule and treat it like you would any other can't-miss appointment.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2006

I have a bunch of things I use that may be of help to you:

1. The flowers idea is good, do it once in a while.

2. I have a bunch of cheap greeting cards, which are all pre-addressed and stamped. Every so often (when I feel like doing something) I take one out, customise it according to whats going on in our lives at the time (write something, make a little drawing, enhance the print of the card, etc) and post it to her.

3. Nothing like a little internet web-camming to keep the relationship going. It's also useful for other things. You'll find out how.

posted by gadha at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2006

make sure your "together" time is balanced well -- you don't want to spend it all doing laundry and cleaning just to make it up to her that you're away during the week. Try to rotate between taking care of daily at-home tasks and having fun together -- at home as well as out-and-about. Check out concert or museum schedules to plan little outings ahead of time that you can both look forward to -- it may help keep spirits up while you're away during the week if you're both looking forward to something specific (rollerblading, a new restaurant, going to a play, etc.) on the weekend.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2006

I'd highly recommend Skype and a webcam for both of you, assuming you have broadband wherever you are traveling. Couple that with a pre-arranged time every day to talk, and it's like being there, talking face to face. Much better than just talking on the phone.

-Emails, small personal ones, are always nice. Just don't send them to her work email, you don't want to get her in trouble (or run the risk of your emails one day being available to all and sundry).

-Like others have said, send her flowers and cards every now and then. It doesn't have to be too fancy. If done in small doses and not too often, that's always a fun surprise.

-Pick something up from the place you travel to as a gift for when you get back. It doesn't have to be at all expensive, just a token of the fact that even though you are apart, you were thinking about her.

-Use the tech available to you to share your day with her, like you would have if you lived together every day. A picture you send from your mobile of the view from your hotel window, a voicemail telling her the fun joke you heard at lunch, and so on.

-Remember to tell her how much she means to you and how it's killing you that you are apart. A lot of guys forget to be open about how they are feeling, but girls love to hear it.

Just do what you have been doing, and make sure to be there for her on the weekends. It's hard, but it's doable. It also adds a whole new dimension to the days you DO spend together, the vacations you take together, etc. Good luck!
posted by gemmy at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2006

Second the web-cam if at all possible. Also, maybe try reading the same book? It gives you the sense of being together because you're taking the same journey emotionally/spiritually.

I think that being apart is so much harder if your plans are open-ended, as yours seem to be for now. Make a commitment to a specific date that you will end the travelling lifestyle and be together again, so you can both look forward to that date.
posted by mochapickle at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Short notes, well-chosen cards that are either funny or cute, long love letters -- there's nothing like getting something in the mail.

Small care packages with little trinkets (cheesy tourist memorabilia, etc.) are also wonderful.
posted by brina at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2006

If you can afford it, carry a digital camera and/or a miked iPod and take a snap/make a comment every time you think of her, see something she'd like or hate. Make a private blog just for you and her.
Try not to spend all of your time in the future ("I'm doing this job for the options down the road") but instead in the present ("I thought you'd like the dress in this shop window--am I right?"). For a low-tech idea, send a postcard every Monday to reach her on Wednesday.
As someone whose partner travels a lot, though, I find that most of my problem isn't with the other person, but with myself. Especially if you're going exciting places and doing fabulous things, make sure she knows you value your domestic time as well.
posted by pessoa at 12:28 PM on August 27, 2006

In my experience, you should avoid any overly high-tech solutions that you might not have time to fix if (when) they go wrong. Stick to emails. If you're a decent writer and your fiance is too, it can be really great (not so much if you're writing "went 2 cinema, saw teh funny film LOL").
posted by reklaw at 12:38 PM on August 27, 2006

Emails, blog posts, or (best) postal mail about the moments you thought about her during the day: what you were thinking, and why you were reminded of her. Even if it's two sentences, she'll be touched. If you don't tell her you thought about her, she won't know. On Sunday nights you could hide a note somewhere she's likely to find it (fridge, under the remote, etc.) after you've left.

Try not to be too one-note about this - if every single message amounts to GOD I LOVE YOU or GOD I MISS YOU... she may appreciate the sentiment, but it won't be as much fun getting/opening them. A silly doodle, a photo of something interesting you saw on the street, something that represents a private joke, notes written on the backs of receipts showing how you spent your day, etc., are all cheap and creative ways to let your lady know that she was on your mind. Especially if these come by postal mail, chicks dig it. If she got a bunch of little stuff by mail, I bet she'll keep it all in a shoebox as a memento of "that summer that was so tough, but we worked hard at it, and look how thoughtful he was."

Roses are lovely, and I'm sure she would be delighted by them once in a while, but that's only one sweet gesture, and an expensive one. A stamp costs 39 cents.
posted by jessicapierce at 1:25 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

do a photo log of your day and send it to her. have her do it for you, too.
posted by sdn at 2:01 PM on August 27, 2006

Movie dates. Both go to same movie at the same time and then get home and talk about it on the phone. Worked wonders for a friend of mine.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:02 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

First -- I'm envious of you. You get to see your fiance on the weekends? I've not seen mine since April. (I live in CA, he lives in the UK.)

Here's what we do:

1. I call him every night (CA time) to wake him up. He says it keeps him going.

2. He calls me every morning to wake me up. Since we can't wake up together, this is the next best thing.

3. We chat via Trillian (at work) and YIM (at home). During work hours the chatting is limited, but it's cheaper than a phone call.

4. Ditto all the Skype/webcam suggestions.

5. Make plans for when you're together! Even little ones ("I can't wait to try that new restaurant with you!").

6. Remind yourself (and her) that short-term pain will mean long-term gain. But, if need be, put a limit on it ("if this doesn't work out in 6/12 months, plan B is....").

Best to you!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:41 PM on August 27, 2006

I spent six months apart from my boyfriend the year before last. Lots of good advice here already.

Make sure you also focus on the life you're having while apart. Don't spend the whole time travelling pining for her (same goes for her, in fact, double for her). This is your life for now, make sure you live it. Weekdays aren't just for killing time until the weekend. If you have things to focus on the time won't drag so much and you'll have something to talk about when you're together. Particularly encourage her to get out of the house and have a life without you, she's the one left behind and it's easy to get into a waiting mode rather than a living one.

But then make sure you do talk about your lives when you are together. Switch the focus back to your relationship and how your lives fit together. It's not always easy to do but making a bit of an effort to be a couple when you're back home will pay off. At the same time don't feel bad if you need some alone time during the weekend, travelling is hard. Communication is key really, talk with her about what you both need.

Personally we talked on the phone once a week only, every day would have been time consuming and claustrophobic. I never understood that piece of advice. We saw each other every three to four weeks, fortnightly would have been better, and we emailed constantly (but we do that anyway, even when living together). The rest of the time we made sure we had things in our life to keep us happy. My whole life doesn't revolve around him now so why should it when we're apart? Some measure of independance is necessary to get through these times I think.

For us having a time limit was really important. I'd hate to live like that for an undetermined time. Knowing when it's going to end, or at least when it's going to be re-evaluated, really helps keep the worries in check.
posted by shelleycat at 4:19 PM on August 27, 2006 [2 favorites]

I second all the advice above (the webcam, or at least a voice chat that you can leave on in the background, is great), as well as using all the means you have available, like email and SMS to stay in touch.

But doing things "together" even when you're apart is a fantastic idea. One time we both went to Popeye's (yeah, it's fast food chicken, but we like it...) at the same time and had a date that way. Just like going to the same movie at the same time, it's a good way to cement the connection in the real world.
posted by anildash at 8:03 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Possibly take to collecting things from your destinations (like the little gift shop spoons or magnets, only use your imagination...)??

An idea that just came to me, what if you kept a journal and skipped every other page (or you write on all the left pages and she writes on all the right pages, etc.); and each week, you'd give it to her (or her to you) and the other person could respond on the blank pages that were left, like writing letters, but more intimate and already in a collection, of sorts. Seems more interesting to cuddle into reading in a hotel.

Pictures, pictures, pictures. Pictures of you. Pictures of dream houses that are for sale. Pictures of local haunts youve visited.

Carry a dictaphone and just talk to her on it and then mail the tapes home.

Hide little surprises at home and when you call her up from the road you can direct her thru the treasure hunt and actually 'do' something together. It could be as simple as a book from the library you think she'd like -- doesn't have to cost money.

That's all i got for you now.
posted by iurodivii at 8:13 PM on August 27, 2006

Email, postcards, letters with photos, phone calls, flowers, packages, etc. You don't have to send flowers every day, they usually last over a week. My GF and I get around the LDR quite well even though we are apart for several months at a time and almost half a world apart. With a seven hour time difference it is difficult but I typically call her in a small window right after work which works well for both of us. Both of us like to receive hand-written letters rather than emails but those take a few weeks to get to their respective destinations.
posted by JJ86 at 7:03 AM on August 28, 2006

I have a good friend that always writes letters to me while away from home. The letters never actually get mailed, but I always have something to look forward to when she gets home from her trip. She always writes them in the same notebook too (she just takes it with her while she's gone) - so I have a wonderful collection of writing, scraps of newspaper, other paper goods she thought would be interesting, photos, etc...
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2006

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