While the end of the year is a time when many people come together to celebrate, it's also a time when some couples part ways to travel, visit their hometowns, and see family. If something comes up, or you aren't at the stage in your relationship where you'll be doing all that with your partner, it can mean spending a few weeks apart. But you can still stay close during the holidays and make it feel special, even with a little distance between you.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn't be a big deal to have separate plans. But it can still feel that way due to what the holidays entail. "Popular culture celebrates love during the holidays," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "Also, the holidays are often focused on couples activities and you can feel awkward or lonely if your partner can’t attend. As a result, even if you have a partner, if that person is far away, it can create feelings of loneliness and being left out."
It might be weird in the moment, but it can help to embrace other aspects of the holiday, like seeing friends and visiting family, while also doing little things to stay close. And the best place to start is with communication. "Have a regular time to check in, whether that’s a call before bedtime, or first thing in the morning," Haley Neidich, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "That way you can still ask each other about your day, and feel like you’re part of one another’s experiences."
To make it extra special, jump on FaceTime. "You can share many of your important moments over video calling," Bennett says. "One example is to open presents together over video." Or give each other tours of your home, your decorations, and food. That way you'll be showing off your traditions and learning more about each other's families, while also strengthening your relationship.
You can also send texts whenever you remember, or when a moment stands out. "Maybe it’s a photo of you with your family, or a video of your niece or nephew doing a silly dance," Neidich says. "It could even just be a heartfelt 'I miss you.' These brief notes send the message that your partner is still top of mind, despite being out of sight."
And then, of course, are the presents. Even if you can't open them together, Bennett says, you can still take the time to exchange a little somethin'. Have a gift mailed to their house, or send them home with one when you part ways, and it'll serve as a nice reminder of your relationship.
If you're on a budget, writing notes is also sweet. You could even write one for every day you'll be apart, if you're feeling creative and/or energetic. "It's easy to get busy while at home, especially during the holidays, and these letters or gifts can show your partner that you are still important to them while you are away," Rachel Elder, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle.
Keep in mind, though, that these tips aren't the only ways to stay connected during the holidays. "Be flexible and listen to how you can meet your partner's needs and be sure to be specific about how your partner can meet your needs," Ellen Ross, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. Whether it's with a phone call, a note, or something else entirely, listening to each other will help keep you both feeling excited and connected, until you're back together again.
Haley Neidich, LCSW, licensed psychotherapist
Rachel Elder, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor
Ellen Ross, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist