THE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS FOR FREELANCERS
There can be a lot of downsides to the freelance life. Your income is variable, there are no health benefits, and lack of a regular paycheck can make it hard to apply for mortgages or loans. Taxes can feel more complicated, and you spend a lot of time working alone without the support network and motivating comradery of an office full of colleagues.
If you travel for work then add to that list being away from friends and family, missing out on parties and important events, and getting used to sleeping in a different bed every night. It can sometimes feel that traveling all the time and dedicating yourself so completely to your career gets in the way of forming romantic relationships too.
There are upsides to living the freelance life though, especially if that life also involves travel. New places, interesting experiences, diverse food, and meeting tonnes of new people all the time; it’s hard to get bored when you’re constantly on the go and in new places. My life as a freelancer not only led me to meet my partner, but has actually proven to function very well within the structure of a long distance relationship.
Long Distance Love
Flirt Game: Weak
I met my partner on tour passing through a small town I thought I’d never be coming back to. My gig was at his local bar and we got chatting after the show. I flirted so poorly he didn’t even realise I was interested, and I was already in the tour vehicle about to leave when something told me this wasn’t someone I should let go quite so easily. In a rare moment of boldness I walked back in, put my number on the bar in front of him, and told him to text me if he wanted to hang out the next day before we left town. Two years later, and many, many trips back to that small town, we’re in a very happy, healthy, long distance relationship.
It’ll Never Work
People always tell you that long distance only works (if it works at all) if you have a date planned where you’ll “close the distance”. We don’t have that, and the way our respective jobs are we likely won’t have that for a long time. He has a home and several businesses in his town, I have a career as a touring musician that can really only be done from Nashville. That’s just the way it is right now and packing up and moving is a sacrifice that neither of us are able to make, nor ask of the person we love. But so far it’s been really good, and my freelance work and the flexibility he has being the boss of his businesses has a lot to do with that.
Everyone knows about the hard aspects of distance dating, but the combination of long distance love and being a freelancer also has these benefits.
Being in a long distance relationship obviously means having periods of time alone, and that time can be invaluable for freelancers as a chance to really focus on your work. If you’re someone who is easily distracted, having long stretches of time to focus solely on work can help to keep you on task and get more done. Knowing that you’ve got 2 days/2 weeks/2 months until your next visit can be a great motivator to work hard and finish up as much work as possible, so you’re in a position to take a break and really enjoy that time with your partner when the next visit comes around.
A long distance relationship can be a challenge for people who tend to pour all of themselves into new romantic relationships, deprioritizing work and the other relationships in their life as that new relationship energy entrances and consumes them. Whether it’s to focus on work, or to focus on the other aspects of your life, a long distance relationship forces you to take space and time for yourself: something we all need.
Recharge and Reset
Having a second home-base can mean the chance to really get to know and enjoy two different places. Whether it’s two cities, two smaller towns, one beach area and one mountain location; you end up having two different places to call home. I live in a city and my partner lives in the woods, and over the last few years I’ve grown to really value the reset and recharge that visiting his home provides. My summer is usually incredibly busy with touring and the last few years I’ve spent 2 weeks with my partner just before the touring season starts, planting out the garden at one of his businesses as part of that time together. Digging in the dirt and spending that block of time together doing something totally outside of my music work has become a great way to clear my mind and prepare myself for the craziness of the coming tour season.
Being in charge of your own freelance schedule means you can find more time to travel and be together. If I had a Monday to Friday job there’s no way I would’ve been able to see my partner as much as I have, because the round trip travel time alone would’ve eaten up the entire weekend. The strict work hours and lack of flexibility of a 9-5 job would probably have stopped us before we’d even gotten started building our relationship. My touring schedule is usually a week or two on and then a week or two off, so I’m able to either spend my downtime in Nashville, at his place, or somewhere else taking a vacation and exploring somewhere new together.
If you already travel as part of your work, an extra bonus is the ability to travel to see your partner on someone else’s dime. I’ve been very lucky to have touring parties who were happy to send me there instead of home if I wanted, so long as I was at the next tour stop in time to meet them and it didn’t cost more than travel to Nashville.
If your work isn’t location specific you might be able to split your time between your home and your partner’s home with very minimal disruption and without even necessarily needing to take any time off. Most of my work just requires my laptop, my phone and sometimes a bass, so I’ve left an electric bass permanently at his place for learning the songs of upcoming tours.
Side note: being able to work from anywhere can be a little too easy sometimes, and it’s worth remembering that not everywhere is an appropriate time or place to respond to emails. My partner scolded me when he caught me responding to work messages while standing in line for a roller coaster at Disney World on vacation together. The flexibility of working from anywhere can be amazing, but when you’re waiting to ride Space Mountain you should probably put the phone away and just be in the moment with your loved ones, $20 pretzel, and novelty Mickey ears.
Aside from the work benefits there’s also the fact that spending time apart gives you the chance to miss each other again. Couples who don’t deal with distance could still do well to take a leaf out of the long distance book and try harder to maintain some independence and autonomy. If for no other reason than to feel that overwhelming joy and excitement of finally getting to see the person you love again after some time spent apart.
(Pic: snaps from our South Island, New Zealand vacation)