With more and more people meeting online, it’s much easier these days to connect with someone who may live on the other side of the country, or even the other side of the world. Of course, you take all the steps to make sure it’s a “real thing” and not just a mutual fantasy you’re both indulging in, but once that line gets crossed and things get serious, how do you handle the distance? Or, what happens if you fall in love with someone locally, and suddenly their job or school requires them to live far away from you? Can it still work?
The common belief is that it can’t work, and that you should back away from these kinds of complicated arrangements. But that isn’t always necessary. Many long distance relationships can not only survive, but actually flourish. Here, I talk from personal experience. I entered into a long distance relationship three years ago, and it has now blossomed into something so much bigger and will soon become a marriage.
It’s hard to maintain intimacy in any relationship, leave alone when you are miles apart, but I learned how to use the natural ups and downs of long distance to my relationship’s advantage. Here are some of the ways I came up with to help you have a healthy and successful long distance relationship.
1. Tell them you love them as much as possible
There has not been a single day I forgot to tell him how much I love him. This is a very important tip. What I did, even when I felt cold, when I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy about us, I did not let him feel it. And I’m not talking about lying — I meant every word I said every time I said it. Truth can go deeper than your temporary feelings. Tell your partner you love them, it doesn’t matter how many times a day but whatever you do, don’t forget. And you don’t always have to reinvent a Hallmark card for yourself every time. Sometimes I send him relationship quotes I come across on the internet.
2. Set relationship rules and expectations
When your partner is far away, you can find yourself with mixed feelings and potentially compromising situations, especially when there are no clear expectations. What we did to get through this was to sit down together and agree that neither of us would date other people. We also agreed to communicate daily, and that we were both to be making efforts to see each other every 2 to 3 months. We just set simple boundaries for us that helped us maintain the “definition” of who we are and what we’re doing. This really helped me a lot in maintaining a sense of connection and intimacy with him.
3. Communicate on a daily basis
This was one of our “rules.” Many relationships, whether long distance or local, fall apart due to communication breakdown. We both understand the importance of communication to our relationship. So we take advantage of modern technology, such as instant messages, emails and Skype. I invested in a webcam and make good use of video calling features used by most instant messaging software. You’d be amazed how much this helped us.
4. Be clear about your feelings
Know who you are and what you want. And he needs to, too. Being unsure of what you want will only create uncertainty and doubt in your long distance relationship. I took some time and analyzed my feelings and aspirations, so I was sure of what I wanted. And we shared our feelings with each other honestly. If you don’t have honesty with your partner, what kind of relationship will you have?
5. Send care packages
It’s good to send your partner personalized gifts. They can be cards with romantic quotations (especially related to LDRs), photos, stuffed animals, and collectibles. With a great distance separating us, it is important to have something tangible in hand to remind us of each other. And every time I get something in the mail from him, it really makes me feel more loved and cared for.
6. Meet regularly
Another of our “rules.” It’s good to plan regular meetings, and if at all possible, avoid postponements. It gives us something to look forward to, and makes each reunion special. This strengthened our bonds and definitely helps keep our love burning.
7. Trust one another
Trust is very important in every relationship. Since you are in a long distance relationship, failure to trust your partner will do more harm than good. I understood that if I had constant doubts about my partner it would be detrimental to our relationship. We had agreed on guidelines and a mutual definition of “us”, who we are, and now we have to trust that each of us will act accordingly. This may be one of the hardest parts of a LDR, but again, without trust, what kind of relationship do you really have?
8. Patience matters
I understand that in a LDR things seem to move slowly, but remember that time is just another factor that you must overcome. Patience allows the space for true love to grow and deepen. And it’s also a test, a challenge, that helps strengthen us along the way. We know once we’re together permanently that we’ll have the perseverance to make it work.
9. Make special occasions extra special
Holidays and special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries, can be hard when you are not together, so go out of your way to make them special. Since we are far from each other, we spend long hours communicating on Skype or chatting. We make sure we know we are not alone, that even with the distance, we are right there with each other. Sometimes we’ll even make surprise visits — and I can assure you, that is always special.
10. Enjoy your time
Turn the challenge of a LDR to your advantage. Being in such a situation does not mean you shouldn’t have fun or spend time with friends and family. Go out, have fun. It will keep you healthy and sane as a person, and help time fly until your next meeting. Stay engaged in your normal life. Maintain those safe and healthy relationships. After all, this is probably one of the reasons he/she fell in love with you.
Long distance relationships don’t have to be dreadful. They can be beneficial to your personal growth and even fun if you choose to make them that way. Appreciate that you are special in someone else’s heart even if that someone is miles away. With trust, commitment and patience, combined with some of these tips, your relationship holds much promise. Just like mine! And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.