I don't know if there's any hikers on here who have a significant other who aren't joining them on a longer hike, or aren't sure what to do about it, but I came across a story from this redditor that I thought was worth sharing. If you plan on going on a longer thru-hike while committed in a relationships, be sure to consider this all!
Here's their advice regarding hiking solo while you have a significant other:
Not married, but solo hiked CDT and PCT while in a relationship.
1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, time apart can break up the daily doldrum, and very exciting when you do see each other again. It was much much harder for her, because she just continued on her daily schedule, while I was busy hiking, having fun, meeting people, etc.
2. 2 weeks, but usually could text once a day, or at least every other day.
3. Mostly texting on the trail, calls when in town for resupply and zeros. Have to save battery, and need phone for GPS, photos, etc.
4. Best thing is just some space apart. I think it is healthy for a relationship. I've taken her packing many weekends, which is also great, but I also really enjoy alone time.
The couple really needs to talk about it first, be very realistic about challenges of communicating on trail, and both have to be fully supportive of each other for it to work. It is also awesome if the partner at home can help with logistics; getting info on fires, trail closures, alternate routes, resupply options, etc.
Some thru-hikers are more casual, I am more of the hike 36-40 miles in 14 hrs type. This really doesn't leave much time to call, chat, or even text. It is hike all day, with brief breaks to quickly cook and eat and hit trail again before body gets too stiff. To save battery, I left phone off (airplane mode) all day, would only check for reception in morning and before bed. Even in town to resupply, you usually have to hitch (which can be slow), I would often get into town fairly late, so it would be a rush to eat as many calories as humanly possible, go shop and resupply, and get back to trail or get hotel. Even when I got hotel, that is my chance to shower, do laundry, pop and disinfect blisters, treat any wounds, sew and repair gear, charge devices and upload photos, etc. Plus answer a shitton of texts from family, friends, other hikers asking for details or trail/forest fire reports, as well as my SO.
She logically understood all of this, but emotionally often felt hurt and ignored, which you need to accept as perfectly fair feeling. She might see pics I uploaded at a brewery in Bend with other thru-hikers, and wonder why I have time to drink beer with these people but not talk more than 30 minutes on the phone. It can be a small bubble of reality you float in for 3-5 months on the trail, and really easy to get caught up in that reality and neglect things back home. After the CDT, I told myself I would do much better on the PCT, and I did not. It really is hard.
The best part were the times she drove out and met me at resupply points. She met me a few times on the PCT, take a couple zeros, get a nice cabin/room and spend a couple days with each other. It was so nice to see each other, so excited which is an awesome feeling you don't experience in daily routine living. Though she did make me take 3 showers and loufah my feet before bed.
Many of the couples I met thru-hiking together said it was really hard on their relationship. A lot of time together, without distractions, can magnify pre-existing problems or incompatibilities.
So I think either way it is challenging for a relationship, but what isn't? For solo hikers, I think it is best when the partner at home has their own life and friends which they are content with, so while you miss each other, it's not like s/he is waiting by the phone every night for your call.
tl;dr - communicating on the trail is hard and inconsistent, so be realistic and up front about it. absence makes the heart grow fonder, and reunions are very exciting. i am not boyfriend of the year.
This advice can probably apply to all relationships, to some extent! Anyways, I've never gone on a long solo while dating someone, so I have't experience this myself. Guess I'll live & learn!