I do not claim to be an expert at long distance relationships or relationships in general. I have, however, successfully enjoyed nearly 6 years of a long distance relationship. So when I’m asked for survival tips, I go on my own experience. (Feel free to add your own in the comments!)
Don’t question it
This is one of the most difficult things about being in a long distance relationship. Of course you’re going to question it. It hurts too much to be apart from the person you love. But if you’ve both made a decision to commit, if all signs say yes (thinking the same thoughts, connecting at the same time, weird “coincidences”), then ENJOY WHERE YOU ARE. You’re there for a reason.
Decide/Discuss contact options/availability
This is what Skype is for. Use texting, long phone conversations, instant messaging, whatever you agree upon to remain in contact. Even Snapchat is fun for those wanting a new way to stay in touch. Decide and agree on your expectations for contact as well. Let your partner know what words you need for reassurance. Do you need to hear “I miss you” or does that make you sad? And how often do you need to talk to each other?
Make plans together
Before you separate for time apart, decide when you’re going to see each other next. That way, you both have it on your calendars so nothing else gets in the way. Also helpful, plan trips together. Knowing when you’re going to see each other really helps during those moments when communication is via technology and not in person.
Be FULLY present when you are together
It’s so easy for your feelings to turn to depression when you know your physical time together is almost over. Try to share your thoughts and feelings with your lover but also remember to bring yourself back to the present moment. You won’t want to remember your last few moments together thinking about how sad you were. Make the most of your time together. Also, put away the damn phone.
Communicate and Respect
Talk about your feelings, your fears, your good days and bad. Check in on each other and listen. Be a best friend to your partner. Friendship is a solid foundation for a relationship of any kind. Make sure you’re on the same page in the present and your dreams for the future. Respect their feelings, concerns and needs and offer the same respect to yourself!
Also part of communicating is learning how to argue. In person, you can use touch to soothe. Over the phone or computer, an argument can feel very frustrating and helpless. Learn to use your words without blaming. Recognize when the frustration is the distance and not your long distance love. Most especially, learn how to listen.
Building trust takes time. It takes even longer across the miles. Each of you should remember this and do what you can to offer reassurance in your long distance romance. Take and send pictures of where you are. Text your love and let them know how your day is going. When you’re together physically, take them to your favorite hang out places, introduce them to your friends, let them see how you live your life, share yourself with them. That way, they’ll feel comfortable when you say you’re enjoying sushi at your favorite restaurant…. because they enjoyed sushi there with you one day too!
Be understanding when your partner needs reassurance. It is absolutely normal for your significant other to worry about you, who you’re spending time with, what you’re up to. What isn’t normal, however, is if your partner gets angry at you for living your life. It is still YOUR life and you still have to live it. Have boundaries. Nurture yourself. We’re creating strong bonds of interdependence here! Not codependence!
Remember YOU are responsible for your peace of mind
Yes, your partner can and should offer reassurance if you’re feeling weak or insecure. However, there are some times that fear can drive you out of your mind. Your partner may or may not be accessible to help you through those things. Try to separate what’s real versus what you’re making up in your mind. You could very easily jump to a conclusion or assumption that isn’t the truth at all because you’re alone to obsess about it. Find a way to distract yourself. Find a friend, a routine or exercise or meditation or prayer that calms you so that you don’t rely on your long distance love to “fix” it for you. Learn to calm your fears without expectation of your partner to do it for you.
Take care of you
As with any relationship, don’t let yourself go because you can’t get your mind off of this new exciting relationship. This advice is even more prevalent to those in LDR’s because we spend so much time trying to stay in touch with our partner that we would otherwise be taking care of ourselves! Honor your time to yourself. Offer and request the same of your partner. If your body feels healthy, your mind will too. And vice versa! Take care of your body, your mind, your spirit, your household, your children (if any), and for goodness sakes, spend time with your friends and family!
Build a support system
You’re not single. You’re not with your partner. This can feel a little strange when it comes to your personal life. Single friends may not fit. Being around other couples, you may feel like a third wheel. Enjoy time with people who support and respect your decision to continue a relationship long distance. Don’t isolate yourself and expect your long distance love to cheer you up. You have to surround yourself with people who will listen when you’re struggling and can help you smile when you need it.
A friend, when I told her this last bit of advice, said, “Yes, I know I should trust that he’ll do what he says he’s going to do so we can be together.” But I’m not saying, “Have faith in him.” What I’m saying is, Have faith in the plan. Whatever the “plan” is. Something brought you two together for some reason. Be grateful for the time, the love, the technology, the reason you found each other in the first place. Be where you are. Have faith that everything works out the way it’s supposed to…. and either way, you WILL be okay. Stay present in love so that past fear doesn’t win.
For those with overactive libidos, masturbation (and even phone sex!) definitely helps during those times when you can’t be with the love of your life. Also, as an added bonus, it keeps up the stamina for when you can be together and you’re squeezin’ all the lovin’ you can into a 2 or 3 day weekend.
As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, good days and bad. It is a choice you shouldn’t take lightly but as long as you’re both willing to stay the course, an LDR can be a positive experience.
Here’s to many wonderful moments with your long distance relationship love.