Long Distance Relationships

By Samantha De Bono

Being in a long distance relationship can be very challenging on many levels, but the longing to be together is probably one of the hardest aspects to deal with. One minute you're feeling the loneliness of being apart, the next you're feeling the elation of being back together and in between you're running a gamut of emotions.

There is no doubt that long distance relationships are difficult, but the good news is they can and do work, but certain areas of necessity need to be met for this to happen.

  • Knowing when you will see each other again is important, so that you have an end date to the loneliness. Try to visit as often as possible or certainly as often as your budget permits. It is better if you can plan your next visit as soon as possible after the last visit, so that the distance doesn't feel open ended.
  • Knowing that this is not how it's going to be for ever and that you will be together at a certain point in the future, but in the meantime get to know each other. Learn what your partner likes to do for a hobby, what they do from day to day when you're not together. Research each other's interests so that you have more to talk about and possibly more to do together.
  • Make history together. When you spend time together have your own special rituals, such as doing "us" and "our" stuff, like eating at "our" favourite restaurant, cooking "our" favourite food together. Don't always meet at each other's house's, arrange to meet somewhere that's new to both of you.
  • Having long term plans and goals together. Talk about the future and what you want it to look like. Make sure you are on the same page.
  • Be in regular contact by phone, Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook and email. You don't have to have long lengthy or deep and meaningful conversations every day, it's more about regularity, so for example making sure you are in contact every day just to tell each other about the little things that are going on. Remember that your schedules will not always match, so make sure you let each other know when it might be difficult to maintain lengthier contact and make sure you send quick messages to let your partner know they are still in your thoughts.
  • Flexibility is a must, so use your time apart to your advantage, don't just sit and wait for your partner to contact you, or┬álive only for the phone calls and messages. Get a life that you are excited to share with your partner, that way you will have more to share when you are together and more to talk about when you are apart.
  • Support each other. There will be times when your partner needs you to be there for them and the fact that you can't be, is bound to make things feel even worse. Making yourself available for your partner during these times is an absolute necessity to avoid having to deal with problems and upsets alone. Even triumphs won't feel that great if they can't be shared with your loved one. Depending on the magnitude of the problem, consider making yourself physically available if needs be.
  • Be okay with the boring side of your relationship. Proximal relationships probably reach this point sooner than long-distance relationships, because the newness wears off much quicker if you're seeing each other on a very regular basis. Life is not always going to be full of fun and excitement, so when you have your evening Skype, it stands to reason that you're likely to talk about mundane things. That's okay! It will give you both a feeling of normality in each other's life, just like you will have when you eventually live together. When you spend time together try to do a few mundane things too, such as grocery shopping or cleaning the house, because that's what the reality of living together will be. You don't want to start living together and feel that you don't recognise the relationship at all.
  • Trust each other. In any relationship trust is crucial, but with long-distance relationships it can be put to the test more, because you aren't going to be involved in many aspects of your partners life. Try not to be jealous or suspicious and question your partner's movements. Try not to put demands on your partner for her/his time as this will start to create the very situation you are afraid of - more distance.
  • Avoid putting yourself in situations where you might be tempted to cheat on your partner, or you stand the chance of losing everything you have been working so hard to maintain.
  • Do things together. Even though you aren't in the same place at the same time, doesn't mean you can't do the same things at the same time (time zones permitting). Think about what you might be doing together if you were living in the same house. Would you be playing a game? Cooking a meal? Watching a movie? Making a scrapbook? Watching a YouTube clip? Reading a book? All these things and so much more could be shared at the same time regardless of the distance. If you have a larger time difference, try making an online scrapbook together or write a journal together. If you are in time zones that don't permit doing things at the same time, you can still do the same things together, such as cook the same meals, read the same book, watch the same movie, which you can talk about when you do get your talk time.

At the end of the day, long distance relationships can be risky and hard work, but with understanding, consideration and empathy and adjustments in attitude and lifestyle made on both sides, there is every reason to believe that your long distance relationship will stand up to the test.