Long distance relationships can be weird and awkward no matter what time of year it is, but being in a long distance relationship on Valentine’s Day is basically the worst — unless, of course, you’re like me, and have spent the majority of your dating years in the dreaded LDR, in which case Valentine’s Day has kind of become your specialty. You've celebrated away from your significant other so many times, you're practically a pro.
See, I wasn't socialized properly. In high school, I was terrified of my parents even knowing that I talked to b-b-b-boys. Thus, I am quite familiar with having crushes that lasted for years and went nowhere, and dodging chances of rejection by not doing anything at all to put me in a position of rejection. When dating finally became a "thing," long distance relationships were my jam. While some people are forced into them by circumstance, I loved the opportunity of having a state between us for a while. It gave me a lot of time to realize if I actually liked the guy before I made any kind of rash decisions, like — you know — moving closer. And yes, these were actual guys I knew. Not online friends, or some creepy dating profile random who's actually 40 and married with children.
The good thing is, I learned how to be charming and girlfriend-worthy without actually being physically present. If you're in a situation where your loved one isn't within arms reach, here are a few ways you can celebrate the well-known day of love without gorging yourself silly on chocolate and lonely tears.
1. Write a love letter
If you're the type of person who participated in Friendship Books and Slam Books with your 80 pen pals, this is the perfect opportunity to bust out your glittery gel pens and send an actual letter. No doubt about it, this will be the best mail your significant other gets. Just don't get too graphic, since you never know how it might be circulated, or which roommate might stumble upon it and get the wrong idea about your character.
2. Have yourself a Skype dinner
When you can't go out, might as well order in. Choose a similar cuisine together (so, uh, likely Chinese food), and go crazy by having it delivered. During the mandatory 45-minute wait, open Skype and start your romantic evening. The best part is, you can keep the argument about where you're going to eat in tact, like any non-LDR couple, but you don't have to make a reservation, or feel awkward by realizing that you've been totally eavesdropping on lovers' quarrels happening at the table next to you.
3. Send flowers
Listen — if you send nothing, it's going to make the recipient feel more alone. You might get a text with a bunch of sad emoticons near the end of the night if you blow it off all together, and possibly a few "they might be drunk?" texts asking about the status of the relationship.
I firmly believe that both men and women enjoy a fresh bunch of flowers, but if your significant other thinks this might be tacky/is allergic, there's plenty of other stuff you can send. Like candy. An envelope filled with candy.
4. Make a CD of songs that remind you of him or her
Not necessarily songs that you think your SO will like. You can keep pushing Mumford And Sons, but after 90 reminders about how amazing they are, you need to come to terms with the fact that he'll discover them himself when he's ready. Have him (or her) do the same for you, and make sure they're sent by the time Valentine's Day rolls around. Play them the night of. Not only is this mega-romantic and totally something that might happen in a rom-com, but you'll always have the disc around whenever you start to miss them. Being old school is so adorable.
5. Think about the future
Already married? About ready to get married? Unless you've been dating this guy or girl for less than 6 months, it might make you feel pretty good to think a little about the future. You know — when you won't have to spend Valentine's Day alone anymore. If you're waiting for a financial boost, or for a return home from the Army or the Navy or school or what have you, start scouting out some good options for your new apartment together once you're back in the same state. Or, just think about what the holiday will be like once you reunite with your one and only. It's similar to how everyone "dreams of their wedding" — it'll probably happen someday, so it's totally fine to snoop around and daydream beforehand.
6. Buy your loved one something that you'll use together
So, you know you'll be seeing your SO this May. And you know that he or she really wants to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Your inbox has been filled with brand new trailers and trivia about this potential blockbuster for months. Think about buying a gift certificate to the movie theater, good for two adults. Maybe put some extra cash in there for popcorn and a soda. Once you've purchased your gift certificate, now totaling 75 dollars, make sure they know the specific plans behind it.
These types of gifts are cool, since it definitely proves that you're invested in the long term, and seriously can't wait to see them again.
7. Celebrate with your single friends
Or, the couples who don't give a crap about Valentine's Day. Or better yet, your friends who know the pain of being in a LDR. Just make sure that you don't head to any type of place that'll make you feel like bait in a sea of sleazes. While you know that you won't cheat (or even flirt to an extreme) with another lonely heart, getting any kind of attention on Valentine's Day might make you feel a little bit sadder. "Why am I in a long distance relationship when Joe Schmo is here, partially attractive, and willing to buy me drinks?" you may ask yourself after one overly strong cranberry and vodka. The answer is, you're in your long distance relationship because guys like Joe Schmo go to bars on Valentine's Day and prey on lonely women. Your significant other wouldn't ever pull a move like that.
I digress. Hanging with people who don't care that it's Valentine's Day may help make you realize that there's really not just one day for love. Love should be celebrated every day, even if it's through sappy text messages or sentimental e-mails.
Images: Kathryn Connell/Flickr; Giphy (7)