My boyfriend and I have been together for more than five years, and although we live together now, for nearly half of our relationship, we were long distance. Like all other relationships, it wasn't always easy, and the physical space between us often created and emotional one, too. You can look in any women's magazine or online, and you'll find dozens of tips for making long-distance relationships work, but but of all the tricks I read about and tried over the years, I was most surprised by the positive role books played in helping my long distance relationship.
When you are in a long-distance relationship, it can feel like you are living two separate lives at once: the one of your everyday life in your apartment, at your job, with your friends, in your city, and another life, the one with your partner, the elusive voice on the other end of the phone, the weekend visitor. You may talk every day and try and see each other every month, but when you don't live in the same place, it can feel like you're always on different pages, and you are caught between the life you lead daily, and the one you want to lead with the person you love.
Luckily for my boyfriend and I, modern technology has made connecting easier, but our ability to text, call, email, and Skype still didn't make up for all the miles between us. Despite all the ways we had to talk to each other, it was really hard to balance both of our new, separate lives and our relationship, and we ended up separating for a few months. When we decided to get back together, we both knew we were going to have to try harder if we wanted it to work this time.
Now, you know how the old story goes: girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl moves away and breaks up with boy, girl decides to reconcile with boy, and uses books to help. Oh, you aren't familiar with that age old romance? Well, let me tell you about it with these 5 ways reading with my partner helped our long-distance relationship:
1. Reading Gave Us A Way To Spend Time Together, Apart
Date nights weren't just hard while my boyfriend and I were long distance, they were nearly impossible. We couldn't meet for drinks after work, or go out to dinner. We couldn't even do the boring, non-date things together like go grocery shopping or to the laundromat.
When it came to spending time together, we had to be innovative and open-minded about what that meant, and creating our book club for two was a great way of doing it. When I was reading my book at home in bed, I knew my boyfriend was at his house doing the same thing, and although we weren't sharing the lamp light, it made us feel closer and more connected. It was an activity we could do together, even if we were apart.
2. Our Book Club Always Gave Us Something To Talk About
A lot of maintaining a long-distance relationship is about communication. Because you can't do the traditional couple things like going on dates or hanging out on the couch together, you rely a lot on your conversations to keep your relationship interesting. There are only so many times you can say you miss each other, talking about work and your day gets old quickly, and small talk is like the slow death of long distance relationships.
Reading books with my partner while we were long distance helped us whenever we there was a lull in our conversations. Book discussions helped stimulate our conversations and kept them engaging and interesting. We could start out talking about a certain part of our current reading selection, and from there, our conversations would take us to brand new, fun places, which is basically like having the best long-distance relationship phone date ever.
3. We Learned New Things About Each Other Through Books
Getting close to someone means learning a lot about them, and in relationships, it's always fun and exciting when you can learn something new about the other person. In long-distance relationships, that can be hard because you don't get to spend as much time together. Short of saying "Tell me something new about yourself" during your regularly scheduled phone call, it can seem hard for new information to come out naturally.
When we stated reading books together, though, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon so many new things we didn't know about each other. Whether we were trying to pick out a new book to read or talking about one of the characters in something we'd already finished, we would discover things we hadn't known about one another before in a very natural, easy way. When we talked about books, it was never just talking about books. I was sharing likes and dislikes, opinions and theories, passions and desires. In exploring our reading, we were also exploring each other.
4. Reading Let Us Try New Things Together
In long-distance relationships, you'll have a lot of new experiences, but a lot of the time, they'll be separate from your partner. You're busy with your job, your friends, and the place you live, and in doing that, you're constantly having new experiences, just not with your significant other.
Starting a new series or trying our a new genre together gave my boyfriend and I a way to create new experiences together, even if we were miles and miles apart. We might have go to new restaurants without each other or try paddle boarding solo, but we could experience entire new worlds together through our own little book club. It helped keep our relationship exciting and interesting, two things that can otherwise be hard when you're far away from each other.
5. Reading Taught Us About Commitment
In my experience, there are two keys to a successful long-distance relationship: communication and commitment. When you're in a long-distance relationship, you have to be willing to commit to hour-long phone conversations at scheduled times, weekends away at the other person's place, and most importantly, staying true to one another. Surprisingly, reading can help with that.
Reading in itself takes commitment, but reading with someone else, whether it's in a big book club or one like mine that I started with my boyfriend, puts extra pressure on you to finish what you started. Reading together helped teach my boyfriend and I about commitment, both how important it was and how to stick with it. In a way, it was like a baby step — if we could finish this book together, we could handle another month apart.
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