Challenging and difficult, though they may not be what we want to hear, are the words that best describe long distance relationships. Keep in mind however, that the words are challenging and difficult, not impossible. Many people choose to give a long distance relationship a try, with the constant curiosity if it was the right decision to make and if it even stands a chance. The truth is, a long distance relationship has just as much a chance of succeeding as any other relationship!
Long Distance Relationships share the same facts as an average relationship. It involves two people who share an interest in each other's lives, care for one another and of course have a love for each other that they hope will only continue to grow. On the other hand, a long distance relationship does have its differences as well. It takes away your ability to see each other on a frequent note, as well as the choice of being intimate whenever you desire, not to mention that there would be major trust required. Being unable to spend time together in a physical presence makes it harder to hang on to, but does not spell out doom for your relationship.
The first step is to make an agreement of what your expectations are in the relationship and how much of a commitment you are willing to give and receive. If the two of you decide to be monogamous, then it is clear that neither of you will be dating anyone else as long as your romantic relationship exists. Being clear about what you both want is extremely important, especially in a long distance relationship, in order to prevent future misunderstandings and mistakes. Do not feel afraid to tell your partner what you really need and want from him or her, you deserve the chance to speak from your heart and he or she deserves to know the truth and judge whether they can give it to you.
Trust is a major necessity if you wish to have your relationship from a distance. Without trust and honesty, the relationship is in for danger and unsuccessfulness, just as it would be any other relationship. By accepting the challenge of a long distance relationship, you also accepted the fact that you will have to have the trust and faith that your partner will not be seeing anyone else as promised. Being paranoid and accusing will only grow doubts, insecurity and tension between you and none of those three will help the relationship survive successfully.
Making a Long Distance Relationship Work
- Ask the important questions at the onset, to make sure you are both clear on the parameters of the relationship. Setting parameters such as naming your relationship (dating, seeing each other, boyfriend-girlfriend, engaged) as well as defining exclusive (limited to one person,) or non-exclusive. These can be difficult and awkward questions to ask, but will save you great heartache and misunderstanding down the line. Example: "Are you open to the possibility of relocating if the relationship should become more serious?" or "What are you looking to get out of the relationship?" Stating your end goal or ideas will allow each person to maintain what they need.
- Do things together. Defy the distance. As a long distance couple, it's important to do other things together besides the usual phone call. In a long distance relationship, interaction over the phone can become dull in the long run. Incorporating other forms of interaction are important. Just think... People in short-distance relationships do not spend the majority of their time talking, but rather doing things with each other. Try to replicate this by finding things to do together such as watching a TV show or movie simultaneously.
- Communicate in some way every day, more than once if possible. Since you won't be seeing each other, it's important to establish and maintain an emotional connection. These don't always have to be long, in-depth conversations. Tell each other about your little triumphs and tragedies. Ask for advice. Use an instant messenger program or VoIP for real-time chat, or web cams for that visual connection. E-mail is great so make sure you use it, especially if long-distance phone calls put a strain on your budget. Remember that e-mail and even instant messengers can increase the possibility of misunderstandings. Write love letters. Send small gifts or flowers for no reason. In this case, quantity is as important as quality. You may discover an advantage over others whose partner is close at hand—you don't take communication for granted!
- Take advantage of the benefits a long distance relationship offers: more time with friends and/or family, no arguments over toothpaste caps, the pleasure of seeing your sweetheart again after a long absence, time to mull your options (rather than snapping at your partner impulsively) before you respond to that email s/he wrote that seemed so rude the first time you read it, etc. Most important, being far apart gives you a chance to maintain your individuality—something that can get lost in the shuffle when couples spend all their free time together.
- Pursue common interests, even if it means pursuing them apart. If there's a movie you're both interested in seeing, watch it individually and then call each other afterward and talk about it. Read a certain book at the same time. Stargaze while you're on the phone. Set your watches to go off at the same time every day, and synchronize your alarm with that of your partner. Make it a point to think of each other when your watch goes off, and revel in the fact that he or she is thinking about you, too. Find creative ways to bond.
- Avoid the temptation to be controlling. People have free will and no one can or should control another person. As long as you are both interested in being in the relationship, you will stick with it and distance will not make a difference. As soon as one of you decides the other is not a good match—or someone else is a better match—your relationship ends, whether you live 3000 miles apart, two streets over, or share the same bed with your wedding picture on the wall. You are going to have to trust each other completely if this relationship is going to work.
- Try challenging each other. This is not the same as being controlling. You may find that you can do things for each other that you couldn't quite find the motivation to do on your own. Perhaps you could motivate yourselves to get some exercise or to cook better or more often. It will give you something to do while you wait to see your partner again, and it will give you both something to strive for and talk about until then.
- Talk about your future together. Assuming that ultimately you'd want to live together, discussing how you're going to get to that point will help you prove to each other that the relationship is going somewhere and that your efforts and frustrations are not in vain.
- Remember: Things will get better with time, and even the relationship will become better. Have hope.
- Visit often. Try to make the time to visit each other as often as possible or as often as your budget permits you to. A relationship cannot thrive if the only thing you have is the phone call. You need to see each other up close and personal every chance you get. The key here is to set up some "rules" about frequency of communication and visits and stick to them. Consistency can help a long-distance relationship survive.
- Avoid jealousy and be trusting. One of the easiest ways to destroy a perfectly healthy relationship is to poison it with jealousy and drama. When you start a long distance relationship, you must be realistic of the difficulties ahead. It always helps if you go in a relationship with the idea that everyone is innocent and worthy of trust until proven otherwise. Don't fall in the trap of interrogating your partner every time he/she decides to go out for a drink with people you haven't met or he/she didn't get back to you right away when you called and left a message. Just because you are in a long-distance relationship doesn't mean your lives will pause. Your partner will naturally have a social life where he/she lives and so should you. Sure, it helps to have your eyes open and not be totally naive, but being overly suspicious is unhealthy for you and your relationship too. You should both maintain your social activity and be happy with yourselves.
- Be positive. Staying positive and not focusing on the negative aspects of a long-distance relationship is essential to keeping your relationship blooming and your partner content. Being away from your sweetie is not all bad news. Use the opportunity of personal time to pursue your interests and hobbies as well as your career objectives. Another positive point is that long distance dating pushes both of you to be more creative, to communicate better since you don't have "face-to-face" time and to test (and express) your feelings. As long as you see the long-distance relationship as a temporary state, you will keep your chin up and transmit that feeling of security and happiness to your partner too.
- Give them a personal object of yours so in a time of need, when they miss you, they are able to hold on to something that once belonged to you. This will provide comfort, happiness, and the thought of being with you.
- Work towards a balanced relationship between partners. A relationship must be built on strong foundations of trust, understanding and determination to make it work. The two partners should be reasonable about their expectations and willing to cooperate so that the relationship can lead to a happy ending. If these parameters are taken care of, you have nothing to worry about. But don't forget to ask some questions because if you don't, your partner may start to think that you're losing interest.
- Create your own set of relationship standards that both of you have mutually agreed upon. That creates a common goal for you to work towards, developing a strong relationship whether you are together or apart. For example, agree to disagree, accept each other as you are, practice trust and honesty, strive towards compromise and self-sacrifice, seek spiritual unity, and maintain open communication.
- Remember that you're still in a relationship. You HAVE to be there for your partner. If your partner is ever in trouble, or hurt, or whatever, you have to be there for them. And sometimes, distance permitting of course, that means being actually, physically there for them. You aren't having a cyber-relationship.
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