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Long Distance Love as a Travel Nurse: Can it Work?

As a travel nurse, you’re something like a free spirit. You move from one location to another, ready to embrace new places, people, and cultures. Then along comes a new romantic interest  — AND an offer for a new 13-week assignment, hundreds of miles away.

Is sustaining long distance love possible as a travel nurse? The answer is yes — absolutely! Recent research even supports the idea that long-distance relationships may be even more successful than traditional ones — so long as they have certain positive qualities. Before you give up hope on having a fulfilling career and relationship at the same time, read on for advice on how to make it work.

Stay connected — but stay cool

In the first stage of a relationship, you’re feeling all the chemical rushes of attraction. Yes, you really miss each other. Yes, it’s tempting to spend every waking minute daydreaming and pining.

While it can be tempting to act on impulses to contact your sweetie 24/7, rein yourself in. Even though they really want to give you all the affection you deserve, too much pressure can strain your relationship.

Take comfort in that old saying: absence makes the heart grow fonder. Keeping reasonable limits on communication will help you value it all the more when you’re actually together.

Mix things up

So how do you stay connected in a healthy way? You’ll want to combine a mix of phone calls, video calls, and texts. You’ll also want to mix structured, routine contact with more spontaneous surprises. Try making it a ritual to text a good morning message every day. Then surprise your cutie with a call on a random rainy afternoon.

When you do talk, keep phone conversations interesting. Share your experiences and updates. Your squeeze wants to know what’s happening in your life. You know that you’re both missing each other a ton — so avoid wasting too much energy wallowing about how hard it is to be apart!

Remember the good old fashioned ways to express your love long distance, too. You can mail a letter or a send a homemade gift, like a knitted hat or a box of cookies.

Working overtime most days and don’t have time to put together a care package or write a note? An email is a quick alternative. Jot down a list of a dozen things you love about your sweetheart. Share a special memory or a joke.

Sending flowers is a classic choice for a reason. There’s really nothing more romantic! So, will it be red roses or something more exotic? See this list of the 10 Most Romantic Flowers and their meanings.

Carry a token

Sure, communicating regularly is great. You get to hear your bae’s laugh and the joy in their voice. Video chat can help you see the subtle smiles and worried frowns that a phone conversation can’t express. But there’s something to be said for the power of smells — and textures, too. Pack a T-shirt or similar item that you can hold close if you find yourself lonely or homesick.

Deal with jealousy

Don’t let jealousy be the elephant in the room. Speak openly about it with your partner and reframe it if you can. While it’s often vilified as a negative emotion, jealousy, in small doses, is a normal and healthy part of a relationship. It signals your attachment and is rooted in your biology. Instead of beating yourself up about it, understand it’s going to be a natural part of any relationship — especially when your time together is limited.

Visit often

This one’s a no-brainer! Plan times you can be together, either meeting up at home or splitting the distance to your assignment location. Being together will strengthen your intimacy and refresh your connection.

You might also see your distance and career as an opportunity to take mini-vacations together. (You don’t have to spend a fortune!). Or, if you decide to head home, chill out where you can relax and remember what routine life feels like.  

Focus on yourself

Perhaps it sounds a little counterintuitive, but the best way to sustain a long-distance relationship? It’s to focus on yourself! Your personal goals, work, and other relationships are a way to maintain a fulfilling life, which means you’ll feel less dependent on your (still very important!) romantic counterpart. You’ll also want to focus on making new friends and practicing self-care.

To make new friends while you’re on assignment, try doing happy hour or a game night with your fellow nurses, and especially other travel nurses. They’ll be able to empathize with the challenges you’re facing. You might also try finding a group through MeetUp or volunteering opportunities.

Don’t sweat it

Finally, remember it: no relationship is perfect. While it can be tempting to see your distance as a major hurdle — a tragedy of star-crossed lovers! — it’s really just part of the issues all relationships face. Research even backs up that long distance relationships don’t split up more than geographically close ones.

Frame your relationship in a positive perspective to avoid worrying unnecessarily about the state of your relationship. Worrying too much is truly the worst romance-killer. With confidence and commitment, you can make it!

Looking for more articles on travel nursing and romantic relationships? Check out our article on staying connected to your spouse as a travel nurse.

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