Long distance relationships: Finding time for each other
As a childless couple just on the right side of 30, my boyfriend (let’s call him Mr North, living in London I am approximately 400 miles south of him after all!) and I are lucky enough to enjoy an active social life together.
Dividing our weekends between his city and mine, there’s always a group of friends or family vying for our time. Or should I say Mr North’s?
While I’ve been busy falling head over heels for him, it seems everyone from my flatmate to my great aunt Mae has been doing the same. As a result, conversations about Mr North with my nearest and dearest now go something like this:
Flatmate: “When is he coming down next?”
Flatmate: “Great, well I was thinking we’ll go to the Italian for dinner on Friday, then out for a bit of dancing. I love how he always makes me breakfast when I’m a bit hung-over on a Saturday.”
Best friend: “I really fancy Andy Murray. Maybe it’s the Scottish thing. In fact, he just really reminds me of Mr North.”
Mum: “When will I get to give Mr North a kiss? All your aunties seem to get in there first – do I need to form some sort of queue?”
Cue a series of perplexed looks from me. Just whose boyfriend is he exactly? It’s time to back off, ladies!
But we do enjoy our time with friends, and so Friday to Sunday we drain both our energy and financial reserves indulging in dinners, drinks and late night dancing. It helps us put the stress of the working week behind us. But in forgetting about the individual responsibilities we face while we’re apart, we’ve become guilty of overlooking the responsibility we share to nurture our relationship while we’re together.
You see, Mr North and I rarely get to enjoy any quality ‘alone time’. While having a busy shared social life isn’t unusual at our age, (and most therapists say it’s healthy for relationships!), the distance between us during the week means we rarely get the chance to focus on just us.
Now I’m not suggesting couples who live together spend Monday to Thursday sitting on the sofa, gazing into each other’s eyes, crooning Celine Dion songs to one another. But even just cuddling up with a glass of wine in hand and Corrie on the box can really help keep a couple feeling close.
Mr North and I miss out on this downtime together, but it wasn’t something I thought much of until my trip to see him last weekend.
Our usual action-packed weekend was rounded off on Sunday night with a meal with friends at a much-hyped new restaurant, something I’d been looking forward to it all weekend. But as we settled into our seats opposite each other, I felt a sudden and entirely unexpected pang of longing for the sofa.
Suddenly all I wanted was to be curled up in my pyjamas, tucked under his arm, scoffing takeaway pizza and watching Family Guy re-runs. I wanted him to quit chatting to the guy next to him about David Beckham’s Bond-likeness at the Olympics Opening Ceremony and focus all his attention on me. Selfish, I know, but I was dying to cut the night short and have him all to myself.
In the car home that evening I made a promise to myself that sometime soon we’d spend a weekend alone; just the two of us, no friends allowed. As I sat and considered how best to convince my Beckham-obsessed boyfriend that a weekend without anyone to enjoy a coherent conversation about football with could still be fun, he turned towards me and took my hand:
“Hey, how about next weekend we turn our phones off and spend it just the two of us? I don’t know about you, but I think we’re due a bit of time alone.”
Sometimes it’s just comforting to know you’re on the same page.
Do you and your partner struggle to find time along together? Do the kids get in the way, or is it friends and family who are always vying for your time? Why not take a look at the Finding Time for Each Other section of the CoupleConnection for some useful hints and tips that could help you find ways to fit in some quality couple time.
For more advice for couples living apart, check out our new content here.