5 Tips for Making a Long-Distance Relationship Work
Giving the Long-Distance Thing a Try
It's a curse of our modern age that sometimes we can meet people who just seem so perfect for us, but who live many, many miles (or many counties) away. This is the dreaded (and for some, inevitable) long-distance relationship, and a lot of people struggle with this kind of arrangement every day. It's hard when your partner is so far away, and a lot of people--even those who are giving it a shot--wonder if such a relationship can even work out in the long run. Of course, you never truly know until you try, so here's a few tips that might help keep things running smoothly until circumstances can change:
1) Seriously consider whether you will be willing to move (or have your partner move) in the near future. Sure, this isn't something you necessarily want to discuss the first time you meet, but eventually it's something that you will probably have to face. It is very hard for a relationship to grow if you can't spend physical quality time together on a regular basis, and it's almost inevitable that this will become a problem at some point. If you seriously address this with your partner and you are both unwilling to budge when it comes to relocating, you relationship doesn't have very good future prospects. A lot of things can happen while your partner isn't physically present with you and, especially if you're in a hugely transitional period like you early twenties, they can miss a lot of changes that can re-direct the course of you life, and thus you relationship. In certain periods of life it can be critical to have your partner around.
This doesn't mean that you need to part ways altogether if you can't live in the same city, but it wouldn't be fair to each other if you didn't at least keep your options open for dating other people.
Can it work if it's too much work?
2) Split the trips equally. Some people like to travel, but it can take a lot out of a person, and if just one of you is constantly going out of his way for the other, this is an unfair arrangement. In addition, if one person is burdened with too much of the work of the relationship (which includes traveling), he'll be more likely to lose interest in the face of "better" prospects nearby--i.e. someone interested in a more equal relationship.
Don't shut yourself in.
3) Get out of the house. It's tempting when you're visiting each other to spend every waking moment together and shut everyone else out of the equation. Indeed, a few days of alone time is always a beautiful thing, but it can be suffocating when you neglect your social life. Cabin fever is a real thing, and sometimes when people feel crowded they can become the worst versions of themselves. Give each other some space. Go out with friends. Go out in public. If your relationship is serious, you may even want to start introducing your partner to your family or to other people in your life who are special to you.
More importantly, you want to see how your partner behaves around others, because that gives you clues to a piece of their personality that you may not otherwise see. How your partner act? Is he nice to your friends or is he a total douche bag? This is important to learn as early on in the relationships as possible. Once you're "sucked in" to the relationship and have deep feelings for the person, you're more likely to turn a blind eye or make excuses for any of their negative traits. It's better to make these judgments with a clear head before you've invested too much, and getting out into the open space, seeing friends and family and even strangers, will help facilitate that.
Communication is a priority.
4) Keep in touch. When your relationship is a long-distance one, it's so much easier to just ignore your partner or put them on the back-burner when things are rough, since they can't just appear at your home very easily. This can be a blessing sometimes when we need space, but it makes communication all the more important. Your partner needs to know that you still love him and are still committed. Jealousy and other negative emotions can pop up if there's a mysterious vacuum in the place of communication--he will likely fill it with all his insecurities.
Of course, there is a balance to this. If someone is so deeply insecure that they require you to call them and update them every second of every day, and they don't trust you even if you've never given them any reason to doubt your fidelity, you may want to re-consider the relationship. This sot of behavior can bleed the life out of an otherwise good connection. By all means, don't forget about your partner, but if they're behaving a little too needy and clingy, there needs to be at least some discussion of boundaries. You certainly don't want to lose you independence to a long-distance overlord who is requiring you to check in with him at every moment.
Technology can close some of the distance.
5) Use technology effectively. Maybe you can't be there in person, but you can certainly attempt to simulate it. Get on Facetime, or Skype, or some other video chatting service and--assuming you trust your partner to be discreet--show him a bit of what might be waiting for him next time you meet. It doesn't even need to be costly. These days, most laptops come with web cams built in, and most phones come with some sort of front-facing camera so that you can both stare into each other's virtual eyes. Since you can't touch each other's bodies all the time, the next best thing to keep you on his mind may be to show him something special that is only for his eyes to see.
It can work...if you make it work.
Just remember that a long-distance relationship isn't all doom and gloom. It has its perks, like having plenty of space and to have time to yourself. Spend your time "off" from each other happily pursuing your own individual interests, and then when you do meet up, you'll both be in a good mood and ready to spend quality time together.
Keep the lines of communication open, above all else. A long-distance relationship that works requires a lot of trust, and a lot of mutual understanding (and, yes, love) to carry it through its challenges. It can be hard, but there are many people who have made their relationships work in spite of the challenge. After all, if you are truly committed to a person you love, it makes all these external challenges less of a factor.
How About You?
Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship?
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