10 Challenges of a Long Distance Relationship That Have Nothing To Do With the Relationship

Over three years ago, my partner and I embarked on the long-held lesbian tradition of falling in love with someone who lives thousands of miles away. At first, I assumed any longevity was doomed. I’d been in relationships that became long distance in the past — often circumstantial due to school and work — and the distance always signaled the end.

When people talk about the challenges of long distance they often discuss jealousy, infidelity, and poor communication. This had also been my experience. But, with my current partner, these issues were gone. Not to brag, but we love each other and trust each other and are very good at communicating with each other.

Long distance is still fucking hard.

There are so many things about long distance that are challenging beyond the health of the relationship. They vary depending on how far away you are, the flexibility of your jobs, and an endless number of other factors. But here are the ten biggest challenges I’ve faced as someone who splits my time between two countries because an Instagram crush got out of hand and whoops I fell madly in love.


10. Time Zones

This is no longer relevant to me, since I’ve moved from LA to Brooklyn and my partner and I are now both on EST. But for years, one of the biggest struggles was time zones. I didn’t realize until after I moved that my bad sleeping habits were in part due to going to sleep on PST and waking up on EST. Not sustainable.

9. Where Is My Favorite Pair of Jeans?

Going back and forth between my place in Brooklyn and my partner’s place in Toronto doesn’t exactly have the glamor of being a rich celeb with multiple homes. Instead, I feel like I’m always forgetting where stuff is and losing stuff on each trip. For example, where is my favorite pair of jeans?? I had them the last time I was in Toronto. I don’t have them in Brooklyn. My partner can’t find them at their place so… where are they?

8. Books and DVDs

Much like I have to choose what of my wardrobe to take back and forth, I also have to decide what books to bring. I love having my whole library! I don’t always know what book I want to read next or what old favorite I want to revisit. I make it work with books, but I’ve accepted that my huge DVD and Blu-Ray collection has to stay entirely in Brooklyn. And being restricted to what’s streaming on Crave is no fun.

7. Subletting

Another way I am not like rich people with two homes is that neither my partner nor I can afford to leave our places empty when we’re away for months. When it’s a shorter trip, I love being able to let my friends use my place for free, but for longer visits I need to find a subletter. And that can be really complicated!

6. House Plants

For one, not every subletter is great at watering plants. RIP to many a plant in both of our homes.

5. All My Products and Toiletries

Thankfully, I am now employed full-time so I have started to simply keep some hair and skin products and basic toiletries in both places. But for years, it was very challenging to travel as a transsexual femme with curly hair. Now I just consider my leftover products an amenity for my subletter.

4. Doctor Appointments and Hair Cuts

Speaking of hair, making hair cuts and doctor appointments when living in two places is very challenging. I don’t know what city I’m going to be in three months from now! I make the appointments and hope for the best, but I’m often having to cancel and reschedule.

3. Prescriptions

This is unique to dating someone in another country, but getting my meds when I’m in Canada for months is extremely hard. You’d think being on the same drugs for years would allow me to get a bulk supply. Nope! Apparently people are overdosing on estrogen so I can only get 30 days at a time. Even when I get a special prescription from my doctor, the insurance company often refuses to cover more than a month so I have to pay out of pocket.

2. Challenges of Travel

Have you traveled since the start of the pandemic? Have you traveled since 9/11? I know some people have to travel constantly for their jobs so taking a few flights a year shouldn’t be that big a deal. But God is it annoying dealing with the hellscape created by airline companies when all I want to do is see my partner. I looked into the train from NYC to Toronto and unfortunately it’s 12 hours long and there’s no overnight option so… I’ll keep flying.

1. I Just Really Miss Her

All these logistics are just logistics. The biggest challenge is being away from my partner for so long. Independence is good, but no one should have to be away from their favorite person for five whole weeks! We should abolish borders and end capitalism and improve train travel and make life affordable for a myriad of deeply important sociopolitical reasons — we should do it, as well, because I miss my partner. Also has anyone seen my favorite pair of jeans?

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 566 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. I am a huge train lover and talk it up all the time. It is longer, but minus soooo much of the annoyance with tsa! And it’s a beautiful ride up through new york! And you can bring all your own snacks and drinks and any size liquid!!!!! And the observation car that’s all windows 😍😍😍
    The best part is that it can be like a fun bar where people are friendly and interested in getting to know each other. It makes getting to the destination part of the fun :)

    Also — I’m all for a huge investment in them, just love them now :)

  2. When I was doing my first masters, one of my professors was in a long-distance marriage. They had been together at that point for 20 years and never lived in the same state. My prof in NYC and his husband in Texas. They had (seemingly) a very happy, very loving relationship (I graduated a decade ago and lost touch with him, but I assume they’re still together). I have zero interest in a relationship like that, but I always admired him for it…the amount of work those two must have put in to communicate, especially since they got together in the 90s when dial-up internet and phone calls charged by the minute with no Facetime or texting. That’s communication goals.

  3. “1. I Just Really Miss Her” got me as a long-distance baby as well!! I support better access to public transit as an activist but even more so as a lesbian.

  4. i also really recommend taking the train. you can literally LIVE those 12 hours instead of just suffering through them. no weird gendered TSA nonsense. you don’t even have to show your ID! you can bring more stuff! look at the country! with your laptop and headphones you can do most of what you could do sitting at home at your apartment. i find the speed of the train stimulates my creativity.

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