As most of you know, I just got back from visiting my boyfriend, Josh, since he recently returned home from his deployment. We always have THE BEST time together. Kid you not, we are always laughing about 90% of the time we're with each other. He cracks me up. That's probably why I extended my flight 4 times, and turned my original 2 week trip, into a 5 week trip. LOL.

A Little Background Info For Ya...

Josh and I have been dating for 6 years now, and all of those years have been long distance! We met at the end of our senior year in high school. We spent the whole summer together, and then both went off to separate colleges. He went to a military college in Vermont, and I went to High Point University in North Carolina. The first few months of our relationship was crazy. He couldn't have his phone for the whole first semester of college (because of strict rules at the military university), so we would email back + forth.

Flash forward, now he's been in the Air Force for 3.5 years. During his initial basic training we couldn't talk for 2 months. However, we did get to write letters to each other. It was super cute. I remember he told me,"It'll be like 'Dear John', except 'Dear Josh' instead." HAHA.

His first duty station was at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, and he's remained there since. So that's fun being on the opposite sides of the country from each other. Let me tell ya, I've gained a lot of rapid rewards through Southwest Airlines going back and forth.

Through it all, we have always remained positive and lighthearted in our relationship. We're lucky if we see each other once a month or once every other month. Somehow, we've made long distance work for us, even if it isn't the most ideal situation. Gotta make lemonade out of lemons, am I right? I wouldn't trade our long distance for anything, because truly it has allowed our relationship to grow that much stronger. When we do get to spend time together, we cherish every single moment. We don't really experience petty fights like some other couples can, because why would we want to spend the little time we have together fighting over little things that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things?

So What Has Helped Me With Long Distance?

I wanted to share some things that have helped me deal with all the craziness and hardships of dating someone long distance. It can be the most rewarding experience. Long distance is tough, but so are YOU. So here's what has helped me. :)

1. Always Know When You're Going to See Them Next

Whenever I'm saying goodbye, it's always easier if I have a plan for the next time I'm going to see Josh. That way I can count down the days until I get to see him again. That is, if the uncertainty allows us to plan. LOL. Things are always changing with the military and I've learned to be SUPER flexible.

2. FaceTime Is A Lifesaver!

Technology makes long distance bearable! I cannot imagine if I wasn't able to see Josh's face at all. We try to talk every night we can, just depending on his work schedule. Sometimes he's on night shift so we don't talk those days, but other times he's on day shift and it works out great. My one tip would be to communicate with each other about a FaceTime schedule that you both think will work best. It's so important to make time for each other. I love planning little FaceTime dates to look forward to, at the end of a long day.

3. Watch a Movie or T.V. Show Together

During Josh's last deployment, each week we would collectively pick a specific show that we'd been wanting to watch. It was fun because we would watch our agreed upon show, each on our own, and then talk about the episodes whenever we were able to FaceTime next. I don't know about him, but doing this made me feel more connected, almost as if we were watching the show together (even if we weren't on the same couch).

4. Make Time For Your Girls

I cannot stress girl time enough. Living apart from Josh has allowed me to have all the time for my girls! Whenever he is deployed, I always try to plan a fun trip with some of my best friends. It gives me something to look forward to in the midst of a deployment. It's a great distraction, and of course wine and girl talk is AMAZE for the soul. Sadly due to COVID-19, my friends and I had to cancel our New York City girl's weekend that was supposed to be my little outlet during Josh's most recent deployment. Oh well, we'll just make our next trip that much better once COVID-19 is past us!

5. Let Self Care Shine

Do a face mask. Move your body. Go get a fresh mani. Take time for yourself! Focusing on my mental and physical health have always helped me while I spend time away from Josh. I'm not sure if it's all the endorphins or what, but I always feel so much better after I get a good sweat in. Or even after I try out a new Whole30 dish for dinner. Doing things for yourself isn't selfish; it's nourishing!

6. Plan A Fun Trip or Activity For When You Both Are Finally Reunited

I think by now you probably realize how much of a planner I really am. Anywho, I love looking forward to things Josh and I will do together once we're reunited. Whether that be a weekend trip to a nearby California town or a date to our favorite brunch spot, it's so important to talk about things you both are looking forward to doing together. It get's you more excited!

7. Faith

Lastly, but certainly not least, when I'm having hard days or times when I'm just feeling down, I always put my trust in God. I find so much hope in scripture. I know that long distance with Josh is only temporary, and leaning into my faith is what get's me through those tough days. So with that, I want to leave you with one of my favorite bible verses that has kept me going:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8

I really hope my story and suggestions can provide comfort to those who may be experiencing long distance as well! Let me know if you guys have any specific things you do to make time apart from your loved one a little sweeter!

xoxo - ashley g.