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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How We Survived 5 Years In A Long Distance Relationship

How We Survived 5 Years in a Long Distance Relationship - Tips for being in a Long Distance Relationship

One thing I know many Southern In-Law readers are interested in is our personal story. How did an Australian Girl end up marrying a Southern Gentleman who packed up his life and moved 10,000 miles across the ocean. That's exactly why our About Us Page is the most popular page on the entire blog. 

Recently I've received lots of emails from you guys wanting to know more about our long distance relationship - because I really haven't covered much about the times we were apart! I know there are dozens of SIL readers in their own long distance relationships - and many of you can't wrap your head around just how we did it. 

But let me first tell you something, it wasn't easy. In fact, we've joked about banning our future children from long distance relationships because we know how hard they are - but we also know how worth it they can be. 

So let me tell you a bit about how we survived it and what our relationship was like for those 5 years... This is just the tip of the iceberg as I explain our story - I could write an entire book about our experiences alone!

Long Distance Love Story - Tips for being in a Long Distance Relationship

First of all, you have to know how it started. Here's the longer story of how we met but I'll give you a quick rundown: 
  1. Kristy has Jesse's friend on Myspace (the social network that was once thriving and is now a social media zombie ;P
  2. Kristy finds Jesse in said friends "Top 8" (the place you wanted to be if you had myspace - it was your friendship ranking and you would NOT be happy if your "friend" didn't have you there)
  3. Kristy adds Jesse out of the blue on March 27th. 
  4. Jesse accepts Kristy straight away
  5. They start talking immediately and talk on AIM until Kristy drags herself to bed to sleep at some ungodly hour. 
Long Distance Love Story - How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship
Perhaps the most important thing in a long distance relationship is communication - and for us that was something that just happened naturally.

We wanted to talk to one another all the time - but we also had a life where we were. I was going to school at the time and Jesse was having surgeries and had just finished school.

Whenever either of us were at home - we were talking to one another. Through Myspace Messages/Comments, Instant Messages on AIM or video chatting on Stickam (because Skype wasn't really that big of a thing when we first started talking).

Whenever we weren't at home, we'd text eachother.... but that only lasted a month before a $600+ phone bill landed in both of our letterboxes and we upgraded to the first smart phones available... 

Long Distance Love Story - How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship

Welcome to the relationship, T-Mobile Sidekick - well actually, that's what Jesse had whilst I had Australia's Version... The Motorola Hiptop (in red because it was the closest colour to pink). This is pre-iPhone people so we were the coolest kids in town with our slide up phones and full qwerty keypads. 

These phones meant we no longer had $600 phone bills - and instead paid $40 a month for unlimited internet. That was also when we switched to Yahoo Instant  Messenger - because it was available on both of our phones and meant we could talk to one another wherever we were..... and we did. 

Long Distance Love Story - How to Survive Being in a Long Distance Relationship

Our friends and family used to joke that we were "Attached at the Hip Pocket" and we were.

Our only way of staying connected was through our phones - and we took them everywhere. You know how you see those obnoxious people with their head stuck in their phones 24/7 - that became Jesse and I. 

Whenever we were both awake, we were constantly messaging each other. I found a way to hide my phone at school without anyone ever noticing I was madly typing away (sneaky, I know... I apologise, past teachers - at least I still had great grades!) and Jesse would do the same at work so he could talk to me. 

Our phones were pretty much super glued to our hands - I'm amazed I never put my phone in a ziplock bag so I could IM whilst showering... actually no... I take that back.... that's really really odd (and now lets see what search terms I get from that!

Long Distance Love Story - Tips for Surviving a Long Distance Relationship LDR

A year later, Jesse came to Australia for the first time. It was his first time ever on a plane and his first time leaving the US.

Truth be known, up until this time I never called Jesse my "boyfriend" because I wanted to be sure that we could be together in person first (stubborn little mule, I was am). So Jesse became my boyfriend for real, met all of my friends and family and we spent two walks falling ridiculously head over heels in love. 

We really couldn't have asked for better - I think when you meet someone online before you meet them in person, you have plenty of fears. My fears were all about me - and not about Jesse. People ask me if I ever thought Jesse might be a crazy psycho mass murderer, but the truth is - I was only worried about what he would think of me. 

Was I as pretty as he thought I might have been? Did I live up to expectations? Would he like me in person as much as he did 10,000 miles away? Would he feel like he wasted all of his money? 

I think you have to know he wasn't a mass murderer when he spent all of his savings on a plane ticket that he worked so hard for, for an entire year. 

Long Distance Love Story - Long Distance Relationship LDR Tips

But Jesse's first trip to Australia was a huge success. I was sixteen and Jesse was eighteen and whilst our friends and family previously had doubts, they were all on team K&J by the time Jesse left two weeks later. 

And don't even get me started on when he left. Without fail, anytime Jesse and I have ever had to leave one another I turn into a bluberring, shaking, crying, sobbing, gasping, choking mess. You've seen Kim Kardashian ugly cry - but you haven't seen this girl ugly cry. 

When Jesse left, I went straight home to bed and cried for the entire night - and then refused to leave my bedroom the next day until I had spoken to Jesse again. I was heartbroken - and Jesse was too. 

How to get through a long distance relationship - LDR Tips

But things got better. We both still cried a lot and missed one another more than we knew we could ever miss something.

Things didn't go exactly as planned from then on. Whilst we were still 110% committed to one another, the wait between seeing each other was way, way longer than we ever expected. From the first time Jesse came to Australia and the next time he came back was two and a half verrrrrrrrrrrrry long years. 

But we were more in love than ever - and we knew what it was like to be together, so we were content (well.. as content as we could have been in our situation) with waiting for one another. We continued talking every single day, we got Skype phones so we could call one another and we planned for our future

That's what held us together.

We talked about everything. What we would do when we were finally together, how one day we'd no longer be apart (and yes, I would be tearing up right now thinking about how that dream did come true), what we wanted from our relationship, engagement, marriage, everything. 

It may sound odd, knowing that we were so young - but when you fall in love... true love.. you just know. My family knew, my friends knew - there wasn't going to be a Kristy without Jesse and vice-a-versa. 

Tips for Long Distance Relationships - How to Survive a LDR

And two and a half years later, my best friend and future husband came home. 

They say that Home is Where the Heart Is - and that is something we certainly learnt over the years. After that first trip, we never felt like we were truly home unless we were together. Sure, we had our families, our friends and the place we called "home" - but we didn't have that contentment. There was something missing. 

Before Jesse came back in December 2011, he'd already unofficially proposed to me. Well, actually, it was more of a mutual decision. We'd decided that when we were next together we would be officially engaged - but that didn't quite work to plan. Just try finding a wedding ring in a few weeks in the middle of the holiday season ;P 

So we spent an entire month inseparable. We spent barely a minute apart the entire month and we fell even more in love. Our family and friends knew for sure by now that we were meant to be together. 

There was just something about our relationship that stood out from the very beginning. 

Jesse left on New Years Day, 2012 and I was once again that ugly crying blubbering mess and completely heart broken (and don't worry, Jesse can blubber too) -  but this time was different, this time we knew when we'd be back together.

Tips for Long Distance Relationships - How to Survive a LDR

Next time it was my turn. Mama SIL and I returned to the US to meet Jesse's family and I spent two weeks with the man I loved whilst also getting to know my future in-laws. 

During this two weeks, we became OFFICIALLY engaged! You can read our engagement story here and I left knowing we were about to start the hardest part of our relationship - The Visa Process. But the future was bright and we finally knew we were reaching the end of our long distance lifestyle!

Tips for Long Distance Relationships - How to Survive a LDR

But enough yapping, let's talk tips. How did we survive 5 years in a long distance relationship? Here's our tips: 

  • Trust with your whole heart and forget jealousyNo long distance relationship is going to work without trust. It's simply not.

    Harsh, perhaps, but I'm being brutally honest here. Distance amplifies tension and it amplifies feeling. If you're someone who can't handle when your boyfriend sees another girl on the street, a long distance relationship isn't going to work with you.

    You need to wholeheartedly trust your partner and your relationship. Jesse and I would never have been where we are today if I had thought he would cheat on me or do things to hurt me. 
  • Be in a relationship with your best friend who you cannot live without
    Jesse isn't just my husband - and he never was just my boyfriend or my fiance. He's my best friend. We were friends first before we were in an official relationship. I could not live without him, I just can't fathom it.

    We both make the other a better person. We fit perfectly together and we complement one another. Jesse is good at the things I'm terrible at and vice-a-versa. 
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
    Communication is important in any relationship - but it's extra important when you're miles away. This is how you maintain an emotional connection when you have no physical connection whatsoever.

    Make the time in your day to talk to your loved one - and yes, that's make time. You can be the busiest person in the world, but there's still at least one moment in your day you can use to make time for the person you love.

    Phone calls, text messages, emails, video chats are all a must. 
  • Be clear from the beginning about your relationship
    Any relationship will end in disaster when you want different things from your partner. This is only amplified when you're miles away. You need to define your relationship, decide on exclusivity (you're either with that person or you're not - don't mess the other person around if you're going to be seeing other people) and talk about your future. 

    This saves a wholeeeeeeeee lot of heartache later on. 
  • Show them that you care
    We always did little things to show each other we were thinking about them - whether it was sending a care package, writing a letter or a long email just to let the other person know you love them. 
  • If you can, schedule visits
    Knowing when you'll next get to see the person you love makes it a wholeeee lot easier. You can plan for that trip and you have something to look forward to - but that said, as you can see above, it's not vital - but having those future goals and dreams are important. 
  • Don't be controlling
    You may want your partner to talk to you 24/7 but you have to remember you both have lives. You have to work, you have things to do - you can't control their life and what they do for your own selfish reasons, just like in any relationship.
  • Have your own life
    You also need to remember to look after yourself. Jesse and I still needed to have our own lives whilst living so far apart of we would have gone absolutely bonkers. I needed to spend time with friends, go shopping, have fun - or I would have been a boring little hermit when Jesse returned - and I probably would have been incredibly depressed and that would have affected our relationship. Remember that whilst your miles apart, you still have lives to live where you are. 
But there you have it, 
a little bit more about how we survived 5 years apart and some tips from us.

But tell me, have you ever been in an LDR? How did you cope?
And if not, do you think you could ever handle being in a LDR?


  1. Kristy, I adored this post - as someone who's experiencing the highs and lows of a long distance relationship with the love of my life right now, I can truly say I relate to everything you've said, and agree with it! Although it's different with Tom and I, we were together for a year before he left, and he's really only 3 hours drive away, the principles are the same. communication and being able to be open and honest is so important, and trust and loyalty. I think the most vital thing is to know when you can be together and have an idea of when the distance will end, and what the future holds for the two of you. it gives you that bit of hope and excitement to cling on to in the dark moments :) you're a strong, incredible girl Kristy, I know how difficult it all is and I really admire you! all the heartache most certainly paid off, you two are a beautiful couple :) xx

  2. Kristy @ Southern In-LawMay 20, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Thank you, sweetness! I definitely know exactly how you feel!

    You are so right, knowing that you have a future is the best thing to cling to. You can definitely get through it - just think of how worth it it will be in the end! xx

  3. Loved reading this post, Kristy!!! I've done the whole long distance relationship twice in my life...and it is SO hard. I can't believe you guys went for 2.5 years without seeing each other! I didn't realise it was that long. I completely agree with you that trust, communication, and living your own life are some of the essential components to making it work. The LDRs I was in ended in heart break, but I believe it's simply due to the fact that we were not meant to be and/or met at the wrong times in our lives. I'm certainly happy with how everything has unfolded, but definitely agree with you that having a long distance relationship can take an enormous toll on people. I think if you are truly meant to be with someone, then you can overcome anything (including 10,000 miles)! xx

  4. My husband and I did the long distance relationship thing for a while. I was in Singapore while he was in Las Vegas. Our flights to each other took 24hrs each way but being a little older and with a stable income, we could afford to fly to each other whenever time permitted (mostly due to our work schedules). I did eventually give it all up and moved to the US to be with him. Both our families have met and it's a wonderful feeling knowing that they all get along well despite cultural differences. We ended up having 3 wedding celebrations because everyone was spread so far apart and I'm glad we had the opportunity to celebrate with our families. I guess the main things to keeping the long distance relationship going are trust, communication and independence. You need to trust each other, find time to always communicate even if you're not physically with each other and learn how to be independent while your partner is not with you.

  5. Kristy @ Southern In-LawMay 21, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Thank you lovely lady! And you're right, if you're meant to be, you're meant to be!

    2.5 years was a veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrry long time haha - but now we've almost completely forgotten just how long it was!

  6. Kristy @ Southern In-LawMay 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Hey Chloe,
    I definitely know how it feels traveling over a day just to get to the one you love! We travel 28+ hours whenever we go back to Louisiana and it's a long and very very expensive trip!

    I'm so glad that you have a long distance success story too!

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  9. My boyfriend and I are currently in a LDR. He lives in the Philippines, and I live in Canada. I'm 16 years old, and he is 21. Given that we are both currently students, it is difficult to gather up enough money to visit each other, so that first visit hasn't yet happened. We have been dating for almost a year, and the earliest "foreseen" visit will be in 1.5 to 2 years from now.

    It is tough! Not to mention even when we make time for each other, the time difference is so insane, it makes it nearly impossible to schedule any skype calls. He recently got a phone with skype on it so we can chat, which is sooo convenient! However, it is always "in secret" away from the professors at his school (he lives there), since non-school internet use is forbidden on weekdays.

    I have met so many of his friends, and they are all so kind and welcoming! I have also met his mother and one of his sisters. He is good friends with my mother, and has briefly met my brother. I absolutely love him and don't want to give up, despite the distance!

    Unfortunately, not only funds stand in our way of meeting each other, but my mother doesn't want me travelling alone, so even if I DID have enough money, my mother doesn't have enough money to come WITH me, and I don't have enough to pay for her! *sigh*

    I do believe that there is a time for everything. God has perfect timing, and we just have to trust in Him for everything to work out :) It is thanks to him that we have endured such a tough time, and the criticism I have endured from my friends and people around me who "disapprove".

    Most of my aunts and uncles don't even know of our relationship because I am afraid to even mention it. Many people judge me for our 5 year age gap, and the fact that we met online. How do YOU overcome this? From reading your post, I don't gather you had to face much of this, am I correct? That is one thing, of many, I can't really address right now. How do I go about sharing the news? Or facing those who don't agree? Some of my friends just casually "support" me, but tease me about how when we meet, I'll find out he was a total creep and has 5 other girlfriends. Help? I need help with this. :(


  10. Hey Emma, I lost a lot of friends because they didn't agree with our relationship and many family members and family members didn't agree with it either until they met Jesse for the first time.

    I'm very stubborn and I'm also quite self confident so I just realised I needed to stop caring what everyone else thought and start caring for myself. My true friends accepted that I needed to make my own decisions and they're the ones still around today!

    Unfortunately you're always going to have criticism, but that doesn't mean you have to give into it. It's not a popular or common thing to do and people always criticise something that's not 'the norm'

    I don't know about your situation fully, but I just told all of my family and friends about Jesse and showed them pictures of him and then he came out to Australia for the first time a year after we started talking.

    There's always the worry that someone will turn out to be who they're not saying they are as that's all we ever hear on tv! My friends had that same worry, however, once they met Jesse they became much more open minded!

  11. My girlfriend and I have been dating for about 8 months. And it has been amazing we both went to a prep school so we pretty much lived together for that time. She is a year older than (18) and she just graduated and is going to college as a D1 athlete. Not to far away about 1 hour and a half. I repeated my freshman year in high school so I still have 2 years to graduate. Since she is in preseason it has been hard to talk but we still manage in the morning a little durning the day and allot at night we sometimes Skype and call. We will be seeing each other at least twice a month durning her soccer season and I am very happy about that. Since I am still in summer all I do is just think of her and miss her. I am very committed and she is as we'll. She doesn't like to party or do things like that because she is an athlete. I am in love with her and only want her. I feel to some people they have a hard time believing me. But this was a great post and I could really relate. People go years without seeing each other. So I consider my self very lucky to be able to see her as often as I do. And after the season I will be able to see her more and the great thing is that our vacations line up :). Thank you very much

  12. Hey David, long distance relationships are tough - but if you're with the right person it's definitely worth all of the extra work!

    I'm so glad you could relate to the post and I wish you all the best of luck with your relationship!

  13. If I could give you a standing ovation, I would. Your commitment and love is breathtaking, and it gives me hope.

    My boyfriends and I have been dating for nearly two years. We go to college 500 miles away from each other (which seems puny compared to your 10,000, but I feel like when it comes to LDRs, it's all the same if you want to be with them and physically can't be), and we see each other maybe twice a year for one week at a time. We are fortunate enough to have schedules that more or less coincide, so we can have frequent skype dates and such.

    As for long term...ee talk about living together and adopting pets and baby names. However, we've never outright talked about engagement or anything because I don't think our parents would be on board with it yet, since we're still young. (Bless both of your parents for seeing your love and approving of your choices.) But I'm going to marry this boy one day.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you and Jesse the absolute best.

  14. Rachel, you are so sweet! I definitely think that love can conquer anything. Long distance relationships are terribly hard, but if you truly love someone you'll do anything to make it work!

    Whether it's 10 miles or 10,000 miles - it's still distance!

    I wish you all the best of luck with the future - just keep on keeping on, it will all get better! xx

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