Long-distance needn't mean being apart.

I've been one half of a long-distance relationship for a year now so I consider myself not too much of an amateur. If anyone ever asked me for advice on dating long-distance, I wouldn't even have to think about the piece of advice I would give straight away: see each other as often and for as long as possible.

This is Taylor and my number one rule. We have been together just over eleven months and despite the fact that she lives in California and I live in the UK, we've spent approximately seven months of that together. Which really isn't bad when you think about it!

I've been asked by people who are attempting long distance how we manage this. It really is just that we follow my initial piece of advice. Taylor and I see each other during every break from university which is longer than a week. Nothing stands in the way of us being together. It's surprising to me from observing other long-distance couples that they don't seem to optimise their time together in the same way. What I consider to be very odd reasons keep them apart: one of them having an internship, one of them being at university, etc. And to be honest, there are loopholes to even things such as university commitments: my university operates with electronic submission, I can plan what books I need to pack and bring with me to America and I do all my theory reading on sites such as JStor.org, which allow you to search through thousands of theorists online, so unless I actually have lectures and seminars, I don't need to be in London to do or submit work.
As far as I can see, so long as one of you is free to come, there's no reason to be away from each other.
The only valid reason I can see for being separated is both of you having to partake in paid employment and/or an invaluable life opportunity, eg. a wonderful internship.

The first time I went out to see Taylor in San Diego was my spring break from university. She didn't get a spring break in the same way, so for the April I was there, she was in college. Obviously it would have been lovely if we could have had all our time at our disposal but it wasn't the end of the world her having classes. I came to some of her classes with her, and the ones I didn't attend, I went sight-seeing, shopping or relaxed on her (ridiculously stunning!) university campus. It would only mean we were apart for an hour or so which is an easy price to pay for a month together. I actually very much enjoyed being part of Taylor's university life. It was lovely to get that insight into her day-to-day existence, which I had previously only imagined. Also on our side was that as a college student, timetables are generally pretty flexible and we would normally have at least half a day to spend together, having brunch or hiking. We also had lovely weekends, visiting her parents, Disneyland and a beautiful beach resort in Coronado.

Over summer 2013, which we spent in London, we also both did internships. I had an internship which I was really excited about organised since Autumn 2012. Taylor successfully got an internship in London over summer too, and we coordinated to get them organised over the same week. We enjoyed experiencing what our working life could someday be like: getting up early and getting ready over coffee and then arriving home to each other at the end of a working day.
To be honest, when you're used to being in different countries, being in separate offices does not feel like the end of the world.
We put our well-practiced emailing skills to the test and left love notes in each other's packed lunches.

If money is an issue (as it is for most!), going to see your partner for as long as possible is also best for your bank account. As we are both students, Taylor and I are by no means finding it easy to afford seeing each other. By paying for just one flight out and one flight back, and then staying for a number of months, you are managing to see your partner for as long as possible without paying for multiple flights. Once you've paid for your flight and got out to where you want to be, it doesn't make sense to leave until you absolutely have to.

It seems odd that a long-distance couple would decide not to be together because of only one of them being restrained by an internship, employment or college. Couples who live in the same place are not permanently living it up in each other's pockets, they have jobs and school which cause them to be apart on occasion. When you're long-distance, it's no different. I feel like people deterred by commitments are approaching the relationship in the wrong way, as if their trips to see the other one are a holiday or travel experience. While obviously this is a lovely part of it, it's not the main reason. The main point is seeing your other half. It's not just a holiday. It's your relationship and it's your life.

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