“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
Pat and I grew up in the same town in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Church was a huge part of our upbringing and still remains as a big part of our lives. Jesus Christ is our Lord and savior, through him all of our sins are forgiven. After “talking” for over a year through text messaging, hanging out with friends at church and doing weekend activities with our youth group, we finally both stopped denying our “liking” of each other and started dating at the ripe age of 16! I can specifically recall my earliest memory of Pat, when we were probably around eleven years old. He wore a woven button up tee-shirt and snap pants. Yes, you all have to remember those athletic pants with the snaps running from top to bottom on both sides of the legs. Pat totally disagrees, he claims he would have never worn such outfit, especially to church, however, I remind him this is before he sprouted into the stylish young and handsome man he is today!
Pat proposed to me two weeks ago from today! We had planned and planned and thought things over and over again about how we could get both of us in the same town. We have been dating for about eight years and six of those eight have been long distance. After a ton of thinking we reached out to our family and friends for support. Pat and I had come up with a plan that would enable me to make the move we dreamed of. I would leave my corporate job behind and move in with him. I would take this time to pursue my blog and see what is next for me! What I had no idea about was that the second I arrived to our tiny little humble abode, the greatest man I know would propose to me. I was so surprised and it was such an intimate moment of me and him realizing what we have talked about for years was finally coming true.
I thought I would share some advice on long distance relationships, what I have learned over the years that have yielded for mine and Pat’s relationship to be successful. I included some random photos of us too! I love looking back and seeing how far we have come!
You already know it’s not going to be easy.
We dated two and a half years in high school and then dated long distance in college for four years. During school, we would see each other once or twice during the semester. After school, Pat got a great job in Greensboro, North Carolina and I landed my first buying job in Columbus, OH. Neither one of us expected us to be long distance for this many years. We both had things we were off doing in this world by ourselves. I think we were young and we were discovering who we are and who it is we wanted to be.
Pat and I at our senior prom! He asked me to prom by showing up at my parent’s house with these massive balloons that spelled out Prom. I literally had just walked in the front door from spending a week in New Orleans for the Hurricane Katrina relief. I had ordered my dress online without trying it on! I would never do something like that these days!
You have to set a schedule.
I had a job where I worked long, long hours everyday. Pat was in a program our first year out of school where the hours were more set, however, then he would be at the gym for another hour or two afterwards. The time I would get home at 8pm and work out myself, it was late and I was exhausted. We quickly discovered that it was crucial to set a time each night would we would pause our personal lives and dedicate to face timing each other and planning our next visit together. Pat is not a planner by any means; he likes to go with the flow and when it happens it all happens. While I consider myself a laid back person, I could not take the backseat and not know the next time we were seeing other. Once we nailed down a date, I had something to look forward to. It would kill my anxiety and stress and Pat and I could talk about what we were going to do that weekend!
These were from a sorority sister’s wedding in Columbus, OH a few weekends ago! We got to see a lot of my friends from school and living in Columbus! Pat proposed that next Thursday and none of them had any idea! He kept it as a massive secret!
You have to communicate nonstop.
Pat would totally agree with me that this is one of the most important things in our relationship that we cherish. It’s something we work on every single day. Men are not mind readers, nor are women. You have to communicate to your partner about everything. So often did I brush my feelings a side, to only feel disappointed or upset again. Now looking at this, it’s to no surprise that the next time a similar situation came around, I would be upset again. How unfair of me to think that Pat would be able to know what was in my head and change his reaction or behavior! I think sometimes I feel very passionately about something and I come off as very assertive. Pat takes this as aggressive and relentless. I have worked on this by addressing my concerns by simply stating, “I am feeling…xyz..” If there is something coming up that I wanted Pat to be there with me, as soon as I found out, I would immediately talk to Pat about it. Pat has one of the calmest, most laid back personalities and loyalty is one of the most important qualities he seeks in his partner. So often I didn’t think I was deeply hurting him if I would get side tracked and miss being home to call him at our set time. I would think, “oh it’s no big deal, he won’t care”, but he took it as me not caring about our relationship. Communication, communication!
Our first family photo taken when we brought Ruby home on July 3rd, 2015! Our bear is a year and a half years old! The below was taken at Ruby’s one year birthday celebration!
You have to stop comparing your relationship with others.
This is a tough one. So much of our lives consume of looking at what other people are doing, where they are going, who they are with, etc. It’s easy to see another couple off doing something and you are miles a part from your partner, sulking in sadness. Don’t let this prevent you from going out and making friends and experiencing things. If what you have with your partner means the world to you. then it will amount to something far greater than anything you are “seeing” in other relationships.
Take the time for self-reflection.
This is a tough one. I am sure you have heard of the saying “You can’t make someone else happy if you’re not happy yourself”. As you grow separately, (Pat and I were in different states for college and then different states again with our first jobs) you will experience many different things that your partner will not. It’s hard to be in a totally different environment meeting new people, doing new things and not feel conflicted at times. Our early twenties are meant for all these new experiences and encounters. I would by lying if I didn’t say that this was really, really hard for me. I am a very outgoing, sociable person and I tend to surround myself with high energy, extroverted people. There were so many times when someone would ask me, is this really worth it? Are you going to do this long distance thing forever? How do you know you two are the same people who were in love years ago? Did I ever question what Pat and I had? I have always known what Pat and I have is special, to me, it was always whether we grew a part in what we wanted from the world and what our goal was to put back into it. There was a time in school where we both were so busy, we hadn’t seen each other in months. We were frustrated, our phone calls were short, we were quick to turn to anger and we had to make the heart breaking call. “If you love someone set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it does not come back. it was not meant to be”. This time a part undoubtedly clarified that we wanted to be together now and forever. In that time a part it really made me realize the qualities that I love about Pat, and perhaps the ones that I thought I wanted but I was wrong about. It made me be self-aware of how I was overanalyzing different situations, and how I needed to show more appreciation to him. He was busting his butt in school all day long, studying for upcoming exams each night and needed me to destress him from that. Pat and I reflect on ourselves all the time. What is it that we want? What do we want to accomplish this year? What are our personal goals that we are striving for that we need each other’s support on? I think you have to understand who you are in this world, who your partner is, and who the two of you are. The world is this massive puzzle and you need understand how the two of you fit in it as one piece! Don’t be afraid to pause and have a hard conversation with yourself, reflect and from there understand if you need to change
Pat and I went to Las Vegas last September! I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Italy my fall junior semester of school. It’s a dream of mine to take Pat there one day and show him the world I fell in love with. This photo was taken at the Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino, not quite the same but brought back many memories! See my travel post on it here– I also shared some of my photos I took in Italy!
This photo was taken during a weekend trip away with Pat’s sister and brother in law. We went to Gatlinburg, TN. See my travel post on it here.
Lastly, trust each other.
Pat and I talk about how unfortunate it is for couples who do not have this. We don’t know how you could ever commit yourself to someone if you don’t have that trust. Again, so many comments from friends who would hint that perhaps Pat wasn’t doing what he was saying, or maybe he did go out and now I can’t reach him. Okay, so if he went out with friends, maybe he can’t hear or feel his phone. Maybe he’s busy. It’s that simple. I think the world of Pat and he is my entire world. If you question your partner’s honesty and intentions, what makes you think this won’t be the root of so many issues in the future? I think there were so many times that friends didn’t intentionally mean to upset me but they were talking about their issues through questioning the lack of issues Pat and I had. It’s sad, but most of the times people don’t want to admit their conflicts, but rather try to give you advice or talk about it through raising questions in your head to make themselves feel better. I encourage you to always, always communicate with your partner on what you are feeling and trust him. This is a big world, I am beyond grateful to have Pat dreaming by my side, I hope that is what you find too!
This photo was taken right after a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon! See the trip’s round up post here!
I hope you enjoyed this! I know it was a different post than what I typically write. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
xx, Brittany Ann