If one of the best feelings is when the wait is finally over and you’re in each other’s arms.
Then, saying goodbye to your long distance partner after a visit has to be one of the worst.
But here’s the good news:
If goodbyes are heartbreaking, it means the love and emotional connection you have with each other is worth fighting for.
That doesn’t mean long distance relationship depression after a visit won’t kick in. But we can learn how to navigate it.
Here’s what will help before, during, and after saying goodbye in a long distance relationship.
How to Make Goodbyes Easier in a Long Distance Relationship
1. Try to keep your mind in the present before departure day
The first time Mike and I met we spent two weeks together. Towards the end of that two weeks we were at the house of some mutual friends, in Melbourne, and both of us had an evening where we felt tired, quiet, and low. One of my friends looked at us that night and remarked, “you two are already saying goodbye, aren’t you?”
She was right, we were. We knew we’d be parting ways in 48 hours for an indefinite amount of time, and it was dragging us down.
So it can be hard to do this (I know!) but try to keep your mind in the present while you’re together. Don’t waste too much time and energy thinking about goodbyes or what will come next. Especially if you have less than a week together, focus on actually being together. You’ll have plenty of time to think or talk about what comes next after you say goodbye.
2. Plan to do something that will be good for you after saying goodbye
Plan something that’s good for you after you bid farewell. This might not always be what you feel like doing in the moment, but you know yourself.
If going out for dinner with friends will be better for you than staying home alone watching TV and eating a whole container of Ben & Jerry’s (always my preferred method of dealing with goodbyes) then go out to dinner. Do this even if what you would rather do in the moment is stay at home with the TV and the ice cream.
Ask yourself what will be good for you, not just what may feel good in the moment (although sometimes they’re the same thing). When they’re not the same thing, though, do the thing that is good for you.
3. Remember you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster for the next few days, in particular
Long distance relationships put everyone on an emotional roller coaster. Some weeks, however, the climbs and drops and loops are steeper and faster than usual.
In the first few days to a week after saying goodbye following a visit, you’ll probably be in a real up-and-down section.
The ups are really fun—and the happiness and energy you can get from looking at photos and reliving a visit usually feels awesome. But there will probably be some down times mixed in there, too—moments when you feel really depressed, or second-guess yourself or your relationship, or feel overwhelmed by wondering if you’ll ever be able to make it work.
During the down times it can help to remember that you’re on a roller coaster, and this section of the track will pass. Just hold on and hang in there.
4. Do something nice for your significant other
After they’re gone, take some of that post-visit energy and do something nice for your significant other. Put together a care package, send them a postcard, or write them a write them a bunch of open when letters.
This is a great way to do something with all your pent-up emotions and give your partner a real boost when they receive it, a week or so later. Because, chances are, they’ll get your package right around the time they’re starting to hit a post-visit low.
5. Do all that life admin that needs doing
Look, I’m not saying that coming home from dropping your partner off at the airport and putting on two loads of laundry is fun. It’s not. But if you’re going to feel low you might as well feel low AND like you’ve taken care of some life admin “stuff” that needs doing.
So clean the bathroom, put the laundry on, do the grocery shopping and organize what you’re going to eat for the week, pay some bills, buy those things you never get around to picking up (hello, oven cleaner and paper towels). Do something that needs doing. That way you can feel like you’ve accomplished something, and that’s moving in the right emotional direction.
6. Start planning for the next hello
After the sadness of a goodbye, it can really help to start planning quickly for the next hello!
When will you be able to see each other again? It doesn’t matter how far into the future that’s going to have to be. Even if you know you’ll have to wait a year or more, start planning now for when and how you’ll be able to see each other next. It will give you something to start looking forward to, right when you’re probably feeling your most depressed.
How Will You Deal With Saying Goodbye?
Remember, it’s totally normal to feel broken and even cry when saying goodbye to your long distance partner.
If they leave, or you come home from saying goodbye and the house (and your life) feels completely and unnaturally empty without them nearby, that means you care.
Let the heartache remind you that this whole long distance thing is worth it, and that you will see each other again.
How long the heartache continues is totally up to you. Learn what helps make them slightly easier for you, and lean into them when you start to struggle.
If you still find it hard, we recommend joining our free LDR Support Group where you can chat with other long distance couples that have had to navigate similar issues when it comes to saying goodbye and what they did to make it bearable.