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I think maybe if I had more time to readjust between visits, I would come out of my funk, but since each goodbye puts me back at square one, I never get to “ride it out” and see how I feel after a week or two. I’m not sure how I feel about the answer being “see each other less” since it hurts so much when I can’t see him and it seems crazy not to take advantage of how easy it is to see each other.
I don’t want to sound like I’m crazy co-dependent either. I’m actually incredibly fulfilled, I love my job, and I have friends in the town I am living in that I see regularly. I also have good solo hobbies–I like crafting, cooking, and reading, and I generally have a list of to-do’s that I would love to tackle (and could do on my own). Lately though, I’ve found that my feelings of depression when he or I leave each other are making it hard for me to get motivated to enjoy these things.
This man is without a doubt the person I want to spend the rest of my life with; however, I’m really struggling with how to cope with the continued long-distance. He plans to join me in a new city within a year, so we have an end-date, but until then, how can I deal with this ever-increasing feeling of loneliness? I thought the longer we were long-distance, I would get used to it and it would get easier, but in fact, the stronger our feelings for each other have grown, the more I’m struggling. — Long Distance Lonelyheart
I know this feeling you’re talking about. I used to get it back when Drew and I were long distance and we’d have a wonderful visit together and then I’d feel depressed when it was over. More recently, it happens to me when I get back from a particularly great vacation or weekend away. I call it “reality blues.” And you’re right — you aren’t giving yourself enough time to let reality feel normal again before you get lost in another weekend with your boyfriend where the demands of your daily life are put on hold. Luckily, you have an end-date to this long distance and it’s less than a year away. Until then, though, you need to figure out ways to decrease the feelings of depression you get when you and your boyfriend are apart. At the very least, you need to have more control over the dramatic up-and-down roller-coaster of emotions you go through every single week.
My first suggestion is the one you don’t want to hear: see each other less. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t or can’t see each other every weekend, but perhaps instead of spending the whole weekend together, you limit some of that time to just one night, or even one day. If you’re only 90 miles apart, you could easily each drive about an hour, meet in the middle for the afternoon and then drive home. That way, you’re still staying connected on a regular basis, but you aren’t spending an entire weekend getting lost in your couple bubble only to have it pop on Sunday evening when your carriage turns back into a pumpkin (I’m mixing metaphors here, but you get the drift). And if you can’t stand the idea of not spending the whole weekend together, why not split some of that time doing those solo activities you mention — the reading, crafting, and cooking — and tackling some of the things on your to-do list while your boyfriend does something else. Or, when you visit him in your hometown, spend an evening with your friends or family without him. Carving out time away from each other while you’re still enjoying a visit together will not only protect you from the low you’ll feel when the weekend is over and your couple bubble bursts, it will prepare you for what your life will be like when you aren’t long distance any longer.
Another suggestion I have is to exercise more. Among the hobbies you list, you don’t mention anything active. Incorporating some endorphin-releasing activities, like jogging, tennis, swimming, or dancing, into your daily life will help you stave off feelings of depression and loneliness and keep you motivated to enjoy your other hobbies. I would also set weekly goals for yourself. Choose something you’d like to work on — incorporating more exercise into your life, trying more recipes, reading more books — and give yourself a goal to work towards each week. You could even start a blog to help keep you motivated, or get an app to keep you on track. Back when Drew and I were long distance, I had to finish my master’s thesis, so my goals when we were apart were tied to that: write at least five pages in the next two weeks; find at least two new sources to reference — stuff like that. I was also committed to exercise and gave myself weekly mileage goals for running and biking. And, of course, knowing that I was going to be leaving my friends soon (I moved to Drew to end our long distance) gave me an extra incentive to spend as much time with them as I could before I moved.
Beyond all that, keep your eyes on the prize: one year is a very short time in the big scheme of things. Unless you’re pregnant in the summertime. Then every day feels like a month.