Trying to sustain any kind of romantic relationship can be a difficult task. Attempting to make time for each other, while keeping in mind your responsibilities. But let’s think about it from a long distance relationship perspective. How can you maintain that relationship and not go crazy? Should you even enter into a long distance relationship in the first place? If you’ve ever been in a LDR you will know what I’m talking about. It takes a tremendous amount of trust and openness. It also requires you to change your expectations. Not necessarily lower them, but understand that not every moment together is going to be perfect.
LDR’s require strength. I mean incredible strength. Not getting to see someone regularly can wear on you. It can make you question your reasons for being in this relationship in the first place. As you might have guessed, I am in a long distance relationship. I was talking to someone the other day who is on the cusp of an LDR himself. They haven’t made any plans yet, but he asked me how we make it work. Some days I wonder myself, but I will share with you the things that help me stay positive. LDR’s can be extremely rewarding as well. Finding the balance between the ups and the downs can be challenging.
In this two-part series, I am going to explore the things that you should and shouldn’t do when in a long distance relationship. Keep in mind, I’m no expert on this. A lot of these things are “easier said than done”. But if you really want to make it work, you need to keep these things in mind. If you can get through some of these things in a long distance relationship, you’re going to be able to get through a lot bigger things when you’re finally living nearby or even together.
Being Physical Matters More Than You Think
Feeling close to your partner isn’t always easy when your visits are infrequent. Take the time to be physical when you see each other. Hug, kiss and hold hands as much as you can. It has to carry you until your next visit. At the same time, your time together shouldn’t just be about sex. When you’re not together, try using FaceTime to keep that connection strong.
Your Partner Will Spend a Lot of Time with Other People
Your partner is going to be spending time with other people, so it’s going to be easy to get jealous. Keep in mind that your partner might be jealous of you spending time with others as well. It’s a natural part of any relationship, and especially natural when it comes to a LDR. The truth is your partner isn’t interested in them. They want to be with you. Why else would anyone enter into a LDR?
Defining the Relationship
Make sure that you both know what this is and what this isn’t. If it’s a serious relationship (and I don’t think you can have a casual LDR), set expectations. What is a reasonable frequency to see each other? Will you rotate visits? If there are children involved, figure out how you are going to tell them. And when you’re going to tell them. And then define what those expectations are going to be. While you can’t plan for every situation, it’s important to ensure that you’re both on the same page. For example, if you both have children and one partner says they want to wait a year before introducing their partner to their children, and the other says six months, what will you do? Ask the tough questions up front and figure out what that is going to look like. Your relationship is unique, so you can define it however you want. And in whatever way works for you.
I think this is key for any relationship, but for a LDR, it’s even more important. Your partner doesn’t know what’s happening in your life (good or bad) unless you tell them. They’re not there to see the expression on your face when you get news, so you’re going to have to come up with a way to communicate with them effectively. I have never really been that good at communication. Full stop. But I have learned how to be a better communicator because of my LDR. It’s not easy and I would guess that I over-communicate now. Every morning, I send my partner a good morning text. Just to let him know that I’m awake and thinking about him. You might want to try sending a short video every day or sending pictures at different times during the day so your partner knows what you’re up to. These things can improve the communication tremendously.
Make a Future Plan
Why are you doing this in the first place? No one enters into a LDR because they want to. You meet someone that you connect with, and because of life circumstances, you have to find a way to make it work, in the meantime. That’s key. LDR’s are not meant to be permanent. The conversation I had the other day about LDR’s made me think about how the LDR itself, is you making a promise. It’s a promise of a more traditional relationship sometime down the road. You both need to be on the same page about where the relationship is going. For those of you commitment-phobes out there, this means you’re going to have to have this uncomfortable conversation. Why else are you in a LDR? Let your partner know what you’re thinking and if you’re not on the same page, you should reassess the relationship.
Talk A Lot and Talk Often
In theory, you should be talking to your partner daily. That does sound like a lot, but keep in mind, this is the only contact you have with your partner. If you can’t manage daily because of your schedule, consider every other day. Or if there is a time-zone difference, schedule a weekly call or video chat when it’s just the two of you. The more often you chat, however, the better your relationship is going to be. You’re going to feel closer and that’s important when there is distance.
This is both in relation to the literal method of communication and the iPhone app as well. Make sure you’re video chatting with each other. Maybe you can’t FaceTime daily, but perhaps weekly? This is also extremely important. When my partner and I get to FaceTime, I definitely feel better. Seeing his face and being able to look into his eyes when we are so far apart is very important for me. It also makes me feel closer to him. Being able to FaceTime lets me mentally “check in” with my partner as well. Sometimes it’s hard to know if someone is tired or having a bad day based on texts and an occasional phone call. But it’s hard to hide it when it’s written all over your face. I find this helps to understand my partner and allows me to be more sympathetic to his day. Being apart can make you feel like you’re living in separate ecosystems. FaceTime helps you connect those ecosystems so you don’t feel as isolated.
Be There For Each Other
This can mean different things. Being there for your partner when big things are going on in their lives is important. But you also want to be there for them for the “small” day to day things as well. This is one case where you need to be able to modify your expectations. If you are used to talking to your partner every single day, but suddenly you don’t hear from him, don’t jump to conclusions. There’s a good chance that something came up in his life. Maybe his boss gave him additional work at 5 pm, and he hasn’t been able to call you. You remaining calm is going to help him. Yes, he wants to talk to you, but tonight isn’t going to work. Let him know you’ll be available when he is. On the other hand, don’t blow off your partner because your friends want you to hang out with them. You can still do both, but don’t ignore your partner unnecessarily.
As far as the big things go, these can be challenging. Your partner might have responsibilities in his life that make seeing you every two weeks difficult. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to see you. You need to be flexible with this one. Not only that, things might come up from time to time – kids might get sick; parents might drop in for an unexpected visit. Whatever it is, be there for your partner and don’t make it all about you. They’re potentially dealing with some pretty big things. You don’t want to be another “thing” he has to deal with.