"I am in a long distance relationship and sometimes I only get to see my girlfriend one weekend per month. Her best friend lives closer and sees her multiple times per week. How can I work on not being jealous that she gets to spend more time with her than I do? Also, how can I just be better at long distance?! It's so hard."
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Thanks so much for your question! I completely understand how difficult long-distance relationships can be. Shortly after we got hitched, my wife and I had to spend a year and a half living in different states, visiting about once a month. It’s tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I honestly think that our time apart made our relationship much stronger and healthier.
Let’s start with your question about jealousy. There are two different types of jealousy you might be feeling in this situation, so I’ll address both. The first kind of jealousy is the kind where you’d be jealous of anyone who gets to see your girlfriend—her best friend, her co-workers, her cat, the cashier at the grocery store—because you love her so much and wish that you could see her, too! That kind of “jealous” is more connected to a feeling of longing, which is a totally natural way to feel when your sweetie lives far away.
The other type of jealousy is dicier. If you find that you’re only jealous of your girlfriend’s best friend, and not anyone else your girlfriend sees, then you might want to consider why you feel that way. Are you suspicious or distrusting of this friend? Is there something about their friendship in particular that makes you uneasy? This kind of jealousy is connected to uglier roots, like insecurity and fear. And it can do really bad damage to a relationship, since relationships are built on trust and fail without it.
If you’re jealous of your girlfriend’s best friend because you don’t trust them together, then you need to think hard about why that is and how you might be able to work past it on your own. Because if your girlfriend has to feel guilty every time she sees her best friend, or has to feel like she must choose between making you feel jealous and sad vs. seeing her best friend when she wants to, then after awhile this could build into resentment. Especially because she may be seeing her best friend so much because she misses you and being around her best pal cheers her up!
When my wife and I were apart, we both saw our friends way more than we would have if we were still living together, in large part because we were both a little lonely, and also just because we each had more time on our hands. And guess what? It was so good for us. We grew as individuals and could therefore grow together in our relationship. By nurturing friendships and staying focused on our own separate lives, we practiced independence, which made us both stronger people. This, in turn, made our relationship stronger, too! It’s kind of like if Batman and Robin both started working out and practicing their ninja skills separately—it’s not going to detract from their Dynamic Duo crime-fighting chemistry one bit. It’s just going to make them a stronger team.
So with all that out of the way, let’s talk some more about long-distance relationships. By far the most helpful tip I can offer is to encourage you to shift your perspective about this time apart. When my wife and I first began our LDR period, I was bummed. I knew I’d miss her so much, and I’d been living with her already for five years—how was I going to adjust? But then I started to focus more on why we were spending time apart—for her to follow her passion and begin a PhD program in poetry and for me to follow mine and start a teaching job at my dream school. When I focused on that, I couldn’t be sad we were apart—only joyful that my wife was doing what made her happiest in the world, and proud of her for going for it.
You can also reframe all this in your mind by focusing on how great an opportunity this is for you both to grow individually in exciting ways. Change is a good thing, not something to be afraid of. Remember that old saying that “Real gold is not afraid of the test of fire.” You have nothing to worry about here. Your love is real, and it’s awesome, and so is this time in your life and relationship.
Second (and related) biggest tip: stay in touch regularly and consistently, but not constantly. Live your own life and respect your girlfriend’s independence by letting her live hers. Try not to be clingy or controlling; again, stay positive and see this as a time of independent growth for you both—growth that will ultimately make your relationship as strong as Batman and Robin’s.
Here are a few other quick tips:
- Have some kind of ultimate plan and/or end date in mind for when your time apart will be over. It’s way easier than thinking you’ll be apart indefinitely.
- Likewise, always know when you’ll see each other next for an in-person visit. It gives you something to look forward to. Cute-barf alert: I gave my wife a jar and always kept it full of Hershey’s Kisses equal to the amount of days left till we’d see each other again—a kiss a day. Pinterest has lots of other pretty adorable LDR ideas if you’re into that kind of thing. Also, if she has roommates (or maybe that best friend of hers?), they can be great co-conspirators on cute surprises you can pull off while you’re away.
- Be clear on ground rules and expectations. How often do you each want to be called or texted during the day? Do you always want a goodnight call? That kind of thing. This will avoid a lot of arguments.
- Do things together, especially Skype dates. Watch the same movie at the same time (you can use a program called Rabbit to share a screen), be in a book club together, have dinner together—be creative! There’s also an amazing app called Couple (and a bunch of other good ones, too) that lets you do “thumb kisses” where you can kind of virtually touch each other.
- I also recommend being “Skype roommates” if you’re both hanging out at your homes at the same time. Just have each other open on Skype and be “together” without even needing to talk. I found that if I was folding clothes in the bedroom and had my wife on Skype in the living room while I talked to her, it gave a pretty believable impression that she was really just in the next room over!
- Send handwritten letters in the mail. Send postcards. Send little gifts. Send care packages. These are your opportunity to be physically there with your partner in some small way.
My brilliant friend Rosie and I made this mixtape for you to listen to while you’re pining for your sweetie. Music is so good for these kinds of feels. While you’re listening, keep in mind e.e. cummings’ beautiful reminder that even when you’re apart, you’re always with the one you love: “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).” Good luck, friend! I’m with you all the way.
Alyse Knorr is the author of Mega-City Redux, Copper Mother, Annotated Glass, Super Mario Bros. 3, and two chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Greensboro Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. She is an assistant professor of English at Regis University and co-editor of Switchback Books.
Rose Campbell is a public historian at Regis University in Denver. Her work focuses on war experience and how narratives about war are constructed and conveyed. She also researches and writes about Colorado’s music history as a consultant for the History Colorado Center. She received her M.A. in History in 2017 and is currently pursuing her MFA at Regis.
Cover Art designed by the incredible Isabella Rotman!