Relationships are hard work even when you two live close to each other. Add a few thousand miles into the mix and “hard work” doesn’t even begin to sum up what it takes to survive the relationship. That’s right: survive. Long distance relationships are often talked about as exercises of survival because they are not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be prepared to throw all your old notions of relationship to the wind, overcome your jealousy, and then there is that issue of sex.
Doesn’t sound like a long distance relationship is worth the trouble? It might not be. But, if you really think your relationship is something special, follow this advice for surviving a long distance relationship.
Decide Whether It is Worth It
Before you jump into a long distance relationship, ask yourself whether it is really worth it. There are two basic types of relationships that can end up with the distance factor. Depending on the type of relationship, you will have different issues to consider when deciding whether it is worth pursuing.
1. The Long Distance Attraction
This type of long distance relationship is when you fall for someone who lives far away. Maybe you two met on a cruise vacation. Maybe you met when he was in town on a work trip. Maybe you two met at a Star Wars convention and were smitten by your equal levels of nerdiness…
These attractions usually just end up being flings and nothing more. After all, you probably won’t be willing to put in all the work required of a long distance relationship for someone you just met.
But let’s say that this person is someone truly special and you don’t think that you will ever meet someone as great. If you want to pursue the relationship, then you better be REALLY flexible in your life right now. You better have the financial resources and time to go out and visit. And, assuming that everything goes well, you better be willing to drop everything (friends, family, career, your home…) to move out and be with that person.
2. Split By Distance
This is the more common type of long distance relationship. It happens when the two of you have been seeing each other for a while and then one of you has to move, such as for a new job. Suddenly find yourself in the position of deciding whether it is worth it to pursue this nice thing you have going.
If you two just started dating or you still aren’t sure that he/she is “the one,” then it probably isn’t worth it. Sorry. But that is just how it is. You’ve got to have a really solid foundation to your relationship if it is going to survive the distance test. Or, you’ve got to be flexible enough in your life right now that you are willing to drop everything and move to be with that person. Keep in mind that it might not work out, so you will have moved to a completely new city (or country!) for nothing.
Make Sure You Are On the Same Page
Regardless of what type of relationship you have right now, you two better make sure that you are on the same page before you start doing the distance thing!
You just met the girl and are willing to drop everything for her? That is fine if she feels the same way – but not if she wants to see other people and plans on spending her summer vacation in Bermuda with friends and not visiting you!
You two have been in a relationship for years and love each other. You think you can survive the distance test. But be sure to talk about your plans for the future. That plan better include living together. If neither of you is willing to give up their job or home and relocate to be with the other person, then you two probably don’t really love each that much.
Make Time to Visit
Skype chats and text messages are great, but they are poor substitutes for actual physical contact and in-person connections. So, if you expect your long distance relationship to last, you better make time to visit. Yes, this will probably cost a lot. Yes, this probably means you will be going someplace dull like Gary, Indiana (or wherever he/she lives) for vacation instead of the tropical paradise you’d planned on. It might also mean you will have to choose between your family and him/her for the holidays. Be prepared for these sacrifices!
When you do have the chance to visit one another, keep this advice in mind:
1. Clear Your Schedule
When your long distance love comes to visit, you better clear your schedule so you have nothing to do except spend time together. Okay. You might have to work, but at least let your friends and family know that you are unavailable.
2. Spend Time Doing Nothing Together
Since people in long distance relationships don’t get to see each other that much, they often try to pack their limited time together with all sorts of exciting things, like going to concerts, sightseeing, or taking trips together. This sounds nice, but strong relationships are built on the boring and mundane.
It is easy to get along with someone when you are constantly doing something exciting. But relationships gather strength during the “down time” – that time you spend looking frumpy while vegging out in front of the TV, or when you cook and do the dishes together. It is in these mundane situations that you two will really get to know each other.
3. Get to Know Each Other’s Lives
While it is tempting to spend every single second alone with each other during the visit, it is also important that you get to know the intimate details of each other’s lives. This will help you bond and your relationship grow. So, organize a dinner party so he can finally meet your coworker Sylvie who you’ve been ranting about on Skype for weeks now, or take her to the park so she can see where you go running every day after work.
Long Distance Communication
Long distance relationships used to be virtually impossible. I mean, even staying in touch was difficult when you had to pay long distance rates, and try building a relationship when you are worried about the phone bill!
Today, surviving a long distance relationship is a lot easier because of the internet, cell phones, and other technology. But you’ve still got to make sure you are using this technology effectively if you want your long distance relationship to last. You will want to:
1. Schedule Time for Communication
Instead of just randomly trying to catch him/her on Skype, it is best to set up a schedule for talking to each other. This way, you can build up a routine and anticipation for your “dates.” It also means that you two will be free to talk to each other at that time, instead of having your love call you while you are in the middle of a Skype work meeting with your boss. The first time your love calls you and you don’t have time, he/she will probably understand. But if you are constantly unavailable, it can lead to resentment and jealousy.
If you are unable to attend one of your dates, make sure you tell your loved one in advance! If you don’t, then some resentment is likely to build.
2. Get Dressed Up for Your “Dates”
One of the downsides of a long distance relationship is that you don’t have the fun of getting all gussied up to go out together. Of course, it is good for your love to see you in your natural, frumpy, undone state too – but you will have more fun if you spend some time getting prettied up before your scheduled Skype chat.
3. Use Full Sentences
Since the advent of email, grammar has completely gone to the wind when communicating. Text messaging and IM have only worsened this. While all those emoticons and abbreviations may have their place, they don’t always make for the best communication.
Image this: your love has just had the worst day of her life and she is telling you about it on chat. You respond with a frowny face. She probably isn’t going to feel very understood! Do your relationship a favor and take the time to type out full sentences.
Jealousy is part of our human nature and even the most trusting couples are likely to experience some jealousy when they are in a long distance relationship.
The first thing you need to do to assuage the jealousy is to understand it will be there. Don’t get offended if your long distance girlfriend gets that look when you talk about Janine from work, or if your long distance boyfriend wants to know why you wore that miniskirt when out with friends last night. The best thing you can do is be open and honest. So long as you are communicating effectively and putting in the effort, the jealousy should pass.
Here is some other advice about how you can avoid the jealousy issue when in a long distance relationship.
1. Hang Out with Couples
Your single friends probably act a LOT different than your friends who are in relationships. They are the ones who are flirting, partying, and open to meeting members of the opposite sex. Your single friends also probably aren’t going to understand why you are bothering with a long distance relationship when you’ve got so many singles right in front of you. It can be hard to stay faithful when you are in the midst of this single vibe. By contrast, you’ll find it easier to be faithful (in mind and body) in the company of couples.
2. Share Pictures of Your Day
If your love knows what you are up to, he/she is a lot less likely to feel jealous. So, take advantage of the camera on your phone to snap selfies of you throughout the day. Send the picture right after taking it. This way, your love will know that you are thinking of him/her even while out on the town with friends. The pictures also help build a connection with your long distance love by sharing the details of your life.
Show Random Acts of Love
When in a long distance relationship, it is really important to build a routine for communicating with each other. But you don’t want your love to be on a schedule! Whenever possible, make an effort to show your love.
Your love told you on Skype that she had a bad day? Contact a local florist and have flowers sent to her at work with a thoughtful card.
Your love is complaining about how bad the food is on base in the Philippines? Send a care package with his favorite foods.
You are feeling a bit lonely, so make a photo collage of pictures of you two together and send it to your love. It will show how much you miss your love!
Yes, these random acts of love can seem a bit sappy, but they are necessary for keeping the long distance relationship alive.
Plan for an End to the Distance
You might be able to handle the distance thing for a while, but the distance factor should always be temporary. Plan for an end to the distance. Start looking for a new job near your love. Make plans for a future together. If you are really serious about each other, then you both should be ready to make sacrifices so you can have a life together instead of a relationship apart.