3 methods to help you survive involuntarily Living Apart Together

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Our uncoordinated first messages on Pair: we sent each other butts.
My dude Scott got a new job in another state this spring, so…he lives there now. We’re coming up on three months of living seven hours apart and running two households. Other than my complete inability to care about cleaning anything and my transition into a nocturnal phantasm unable to wake before noon, I’m good. Scott sounds like he is enjoying exploring a new city, and neither of us feels overwhelming loneliness.

Now, part of our continued good morale is definitely due to the fact that we are both only children. But we’ve also been using a few tools to get through LAT:

  1. Using Rdio together. Scott bought us a family subscription to Rdio. It’s hard to feel lonely when I can distract myself with just about any album I want (currently popular: Nine Inch Nails, El-P, fun.). Scott’s often my new music discovery source, and it’s even easier now — I can just pull him up on Rdio and check out his history. It goes all around the house with me: it plays from my computer while I blog downstairs, it keeps me company in the garden, it lulls me to sleep on my alarm clock radio, and it’s great for late-night dance parties when I pull it up on our laptop-powered stereo.
  2. Pairing up. Pair is an app for iPhone and Google phones, and it’s stupid-simple: it’s a private messenger linking ONLY you and your beloved. It features cooperative drawing, fee-free messaging, and introduced the concept of thumbkissing — but I love it for its privacy features. I have Pair set to say only, “Scott has sent you a message.” so when he sends me a hot manly beard porn or calls me pet names, my secret soft underbelly is safe in my phone until I log in to check it out.
  3. Jeremy Renner. I do not know if Scott has a me-stand in, but I have been enjoying the company of Jeremy Renner, who is roughly Scott’s build and definitely my type: thick cut, big nose, intense eyes. So I’ve been enjoying The Avengers (awesome), The Hurt Locker (great), Dahmer (not my proudest moment, but does the job), and <Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (not even worth it).

We don’t talk on the phone or FaceTime as much as either of us would like, but it helps us feel much more connected when we have simple shared experiences and a private line JUST for us.

And Jeremy Renner’s arms.

Do you have tools for getting through long-term long-distance relationships?

Comments on 3 methods to help you survive involuntarily Living Apart Together

  1. This post was a lot of fun. I appreciate your suggestions. For the last 15 years, my husband has been mostly working out-of-town. Sometimes, it’s just for the week. It has been as long as four months at a time though. It seems like, unless it is a military-family situation, one doesn’t hear much about the challenges of varied long-distance relationships.

  2. My husband and I are finally living together after 3 years of mostly living apart. We lived 7 states and an 8 hour drive away from each other for grad school purposes, but we lived together during breaks. We lived together pre-grad school, tried and failed to get into the same school, then moved from the west coast to the east coast together but apart. His program is over but mine isn’t.

    It was much better once we got Iphones and could do Face Time and send each other picture messages! We also made it a rule to never go more than 3 weeks without seeing each other, and to talk at least twice a day. It also helped that our relationship was really solid before we moved.

    Now he is moving into my apartment and *that* is a challenge! I have gotten used to having my space to myself, and I don’t know where we’re going to put his stuff! Maybe we should move to a new place together.

  3. My now-husband and I were apart while I finished undergrad and he was already a grown-up with a job. The one thing that I found really helpful was counting weekends until we could see each other again, rather than days. Because 20 days seems so long, but two weekends (seeing each other on the 3rd) goes by so quickly. Weekdays were also easier because they were just so busy anyway.

  4. For a good part of our pregnancy my husband lived in his truck so he could find work before we moved to the city. I bought him a traveling magnetic chess set so we could play over the phone.

  5. One thing I found worked in a long distance relationship was “movie nights”. Ideally you both watch the same movie at the same time and chat about it via a method of your choice. If that’s not an option (or you’re one of those people who hate distractions during your movies) you watch it at different times on the same day or whatever works and then discuss it later.

    It works with other things too, like making the same dinner or listening to the same album but seems most effective with movies.

    • My dude and I did this for a long time. We would both watch a movie on Netflix on the Xbox (I would join his “game” or whatever), and then either of us could control the movie (pause it when we want to say something) and we would be on our headsets (either phone or Xbox) and chat whenever we felt like it. Even when we never really had anything to say, the shared experience was nice, and then we would have something to talk about after.

    • Every relationship I have been in until this one has had to go through an LDR phase. And all before smart phones, too! Doing things together definitely helped. When I was taking the running PT test at the end of Basic training, my husband back home got up with me (1000 miles away) before dawn to run it with me. His time absolutely smoked me, but it was still an incredibly sweet gesture.

    • we did this too
      although amusingly my DVD player always played faster than his, so I had to pause mine every so often and listen til I could hear that his was at the same point!! lol

  6. My dude and I were long distance for the first 3 months or so. We’d been on 3 dates so this wasn’t a switch from being together all the time. This was the period of getting to know one another! We had met online so using messenger was normal. Texting became obsessive (we both became people who never left our phones at home).

    But the best thing we did was start writing stories together. Okay, not everyone is into writing, but finding a hobby that you can share that keeps you both excited about contact and that is about building, not just maintaining, was fantastic for us. We don’t write as much now that we’re married and living together but we’re trying to get back to it. So whether it’s designing things together, jointly making digital art, planning meals, planning trips, playing a tabletop game or whatever floats your boat, try to think of creative things you can do. Ours was totally asynchronous but you better believe we both jumped when there was new stuff to read and it was our turn to write. We also spent hours plotting our stories. We learned a lot and grew a lot. Together. We still plot things out and we get excited about it. It isn’t just a “so how was your day?” type conversation which can feel kinda stale and be easy to let it ride.

  7. My boyfriend and I were semi- long distance for the first three years of our relationship, in that we lived 2 states away, but saw each other about twice a month. When we started to miss falling asleep next to each other, we’d put gmail video chat on right before bed, and leave it on all night (provided the internet connection lasted).

  8. So I’m not the only one who call’s in a DVD replacement when my partner’s away (about twice a year work will take him away for 3-6 weeks at a time) and the last time this happened I held what I called the First Annual Rachel is Alone Michael Fassbender Film Festival. Good times.

  9. This post is super relevant to my life and made me laugh a lot. The reason: I am indefinitely apart from my live in SO while I deal with some medical issues with my Dad (he’s recovering, so no worries) and my stand in is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner in the Avengers. My boyfriend is a shy curly haired science nerd with similar body type (to Bruce, not the Hulk) and dress sense.

    I hope everyone has an Avengers boyfriend because it’s a really great system.

  10. My husband and I lived apart for 2 1/2 years. Met the day I moved into a 5 person loft which he was one of my roommates. We were going to school in Vancouver, BC and my student visa ran out after I graduated so I moved to Seattle. 2 1/2 years later I got to move back, after getting engaged, getting married, and getting my immigration approved! Lots of texts, iChat (no Facetime then), and we had to call each other every day even if for only 5 minutes just to feel included in one another’s day. My driving the 3 hours to see him once every 3 weeks too.
    My stand in was Zach Braff 🙂

  11. My partner and I were apart for four months once – and we lived on different continents, so meeting up wasn’t exactly an option!

    One thing that helped us a lot was online video games. This was shortly after World of Warcraft came out, and we’d spend many an evening playing together. That way it felt like we were still doing stuff together!

  12. I am currently living in a different country than my husband. It’s for grad school, so it doesn’t feel quite the same as military spouses. Reading stuff like this makes me realize that I’m not alone in my situation.

    We skype a lot. And I send him care packages in the mail.

  13. Living this puzzle right now! It has wreaked havoc with my housekeeping skills, we skype and text almost nonstop, and being still in the excited-and-new phase of the relationship, it all feels deliciously frustrating most of the time.

  14. Skype dinner – put your tablets/ipads at the dinner table and enjoy a meal together like a pair of deaf Italians, gesticulating wildly and yelling about your day. My other half also puts the cats on the phone for me 🙂

  15. My now husband has been doing truck driving for Swift since Nov ’11. He’s gone for varying times and home usually only for a couple days. Longest he’s been gone is 6 weeks. I feel very lucky that he started doing it almost a year before we got married because I’ve had time to get used to it. It’s still very hard sometimes though. We tend to text each other at least every other day and it’s just little cutesy things but it links us and lets the other know we’re thinking of them. I don’t generally call him because I never know when he’s sleeping or in the middle of driving or unloading. He calls me though and we just bs for a while.

  16. I tried looking up that app and it seems it was re-named to “Couple”: http://couple.me/

    I second the playing online games together. My fiance and I have to live apart while we go to different colleges, and we play Minecraft together sometimes.

    • Pair became Couple and Couple while still available for download is no longer updated, and since iOS10 came out has been pretty buggy. Very sad because my husband and I have used it since 2012!

  17. My fiance and I have been living 8 hours apart 1.5 years (our entire relationship). For one of our most epic distance dates, I sent him a package with half a battleship board and bottle of wine. We drank and played Battleship over Skype.

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