Opinion | You can make the long D work

By Anna Fischer, Senior Staff Columnist

The season of love is here — blegh. Let’s face it, February’s a tough month, whether you’re single, taken or your mom is the only person who’s asked you to be her Valentine for the last 20 years. 

Valentine’s Day often burdens people with expectations, pressure and plain loneliness. The season of canoodling couples can be particularly painful for those of us who are riding out the long D. It can be hard, but if you know how to handle it right, the long D can be very rewarding, especially during the month of valentines.

Wait, what? Oh, you thought I was talking about — no! Get your head out of the gutter! I was, quite obviously, referring to long-distance relationships. How could you think I meant anything else? Nasty!

Well, I’m glad we cleared that up. Anyway, long distance is hard, and many of us have tried to navigate the twists and turns of a relationship separated by hundreds of miles. In fact, about a third of college relationships are long-distance relationships, and at least 75% of college students have at one point been in a long distance relationship. Certainly, Pitt students are no strangers to the long D… sorry, that’s the last time, I promise.

As someone who’s been in a long-distance relationship for the past three years, I’m here to tell you that you can make it work. I know it isn’t easy — my partner and I broke up twice because of how hard it was. But we found a way to make it work, and, frankly, we’ve never been happier.

There are a few essential cornerstones of a long-distance relationship that I’ve discovered, and because I am working through my gatekeeping tendencies, I’m here today to share all my secrets with you lovely readers.

First — at the risk of sounding like a cliché — the pillar of all healthy relationships, but especially long distance relationships is, say it with me, communication. Make sure you and your partner communicate consistently with one another. 

When my partner and I first began our long-distance relationship, our plan was to text and then call each other whenever we felt like it. Well, that strategy crashed and burned pretty quickly. First of all, both of us are awful texters, so our text correspondence would consist of a good-morning text, a goodnight text and maybe a half-hearted how are you text. Also, since we hadn’t planned any call times, we were calling infrequently. The communication was at an all-time low, and neither of us felt emotionally fulfilled by the other.

Now, understanding our mutual abhorrence of text, my partner and I simply FaceTime each other every night to talk about our days. This method of communication works much better for us, and it helps to make the distance feel shorter. Consistent communication is essential in a long-distance relationship, but it’s not the only aspect of communication that matters.

Because you aren’t with your partner physically, it can be hard to get an emotional read on them. For example, if they haven’t texted for a while, it can be easy to overthink that silence and assume that they’re upset with you. Therefore, you not only have to communicate consistently, but directly as well. You have to be willing to say, “Hey, it feels like you’re less communicative today. Are you upset with me? Can we talk about it?” These direct questions may feel uncomfortable to ask at first, especially if you’re worried about assuming they’re angry when they’re not. But, it’s essential to ask these questions. If you let the anxiety build up, nothing good will come of it.

You can also use communication to get ahead of these situations. For example, if you know you have a super busy day, just shoot your partner a text letting them know you won’t be on your phone much, but you’ll be thinking about them. These little acts of communication make a world of difference.

Another important part of communication is asking for what you need. If there’s a need that your partner’s not fulfilling, bring it up to them. If they don’t know, they can’t fix it. It’s as simple as, “Hey, I’ve been craving some more romantic intimacy lately, do you think you can do that?” Always ask if you can do anything for them as well — especially when it comes to romantic and sexual intimacy, which is the most difficult part of a long distance relationship.

Now, if you’re my mom, my Papaw or any other relative, stop reading now, I beg you. I’m about to talk about sex.

Sexual intimacy in a long distance relationship is hard, especially if you’re uncomfortable taking and sending intimate photos. One thing that I recommend is calling instead — or FaceTiming if you want to get really spicy. That’s right, I’m talking about good old-fashioned phone sex.

The point of sexual intimacy is to be close to the person you love. That can be hard to do while sexting because there’s still a degree of separation there. If you’re able to hear the other person’s voice or see them live, the connection is far closer to the connection you have while being physically intimate. And don’t get me wrong, phone sex can definitely be awkward. You can run out of things to say, or maybe you’re just not used to the format yet, but you just have to be able to laugh with your partner and move on when things get weird.

So, with the major advice out of the way, I’ll leave you with some small tips and tricks for celebrating a long distance Valentine’s Day. 

My first suggestion is to download a food-delivery app, set it to their location and order them dinner! You can sit down together on call and have a dinner date with the food you bought each other. Another idea is to make presentations for each other. Last year, my partner surprised me on Valentine’s Day with a presentation called “On Believing in Love” where he listed all the reasons I made him believe in love. Finally, and mostly just because I’m running out of space, not ideas, send each other virtual Valentine’s Day cards throughout the day! It’s a very fun and cute way to get in the V-Day spirit.

I hope you lovebirds have a wonderful season of love. Long-distance relationships aren’t easy, but love finds a way. It takes work, but it’s worth it. And to all of my long-distancers out there, you aren’t alone. We’re all surviving the long D together.

Anna Fischer writes about female empowerment, literature and art. She’s really into bagels. Write to her at [email protected].