Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going the Distance: How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for surviving a long-distance relationship, and it made me think-- how do Alex and I do it? 

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It's hard to be away from someone you love for weeks, or even months, at a time.  Little things that wouldn't be an issue if you lived in the same place wear on you after a while, and it's hard to keep things in perspective when your friends are going out on dates or coming home to their significant other every day and not thinking twice about their good fortune.

All that being said, here are my tips for toughing out the time apart and coming out in love, and TOGETHER, on the other side:

1. Be a team. People will throw you all kinds of statistics or reasons why long-distance relationships don't work out, and it can be easy to get discouraged.  The two of you have to be united in how you fee about each other and what you want the relationship to become long-term.  Try to have a plan in mind of when the separation will be over so that there's light at the end of the tunnel.  You can stand up to all of the questions and challenges if you both know where the other person stands.  Remember, it's your relationship, not everyone else's.

2. Visit each other. This makes all the difference for me. When Alex first moved to California, I was anxious mainly because I did not know what to expect or what his brand-new life would look like. When I went to visit, I saw everything firsthand and experienced daily life with him.  When you're in an LDR (hopefully you understand my abbreviation by now!), you live very independent lives and it's important to be comfortable with what the other person is up to during all their time away from you.  If finances and schedules allow, you should each make an equal effort to visit the other.  You can think of your visits as mini-vacations, and it's so fun to have a countdown until your next visit! 

3. Trust each other. If you don't enter into your LDR with full trust in each other, you might as well prepare to join the ranks of those whose relationships have failed.  Long distance means so little time together and so much time with other people and opportunities for things to happen.  But if you know that you are serious about each other and want to wind up with them long-term, other people you encounter while apart won't be an issue. Being paranoid and constantly wondering "what if?" will not only get very old  for your significant other, but will also make you crazy!

4. Communicate. You shouldn't be in contact 24/7 by any means, but communication via some kind of technology is the only way you can maintain your bond when you're not in each other's physical presence.  It can be hard with time differences and packed schedules, but talk somehow every day, whether by Skype, a quick phone call to tell each other goodnight, or even a flirtatious text conversation to keep the spark alive.  And, speaking from personal experience, Skype and FaceTime (if you have iPhones) are an LDR must-have!

5. Keep yourself busy and stay true to your own identity. While I emphasize the importance of communication, I have to encourage you to stay busy and pursue your own hobbies while in an LDR. I find that I get the most mopey about being in a long-distance relationship when I have too much free time to sit and think about what we could be doing together. Allow plenty of time to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend, but make weekend plans with friends and keep busy with school/work and whatever your hobbies or interests are so that you don't dwell on the present separation. 

6. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture. Remember why you are with the other person and focus on that--if they weren't worth it, you wouldn't be with them. Not everyone can handle long distance, so just the fact that you are enduring it and still head over heels for the other person says something about your relationship and your strength as individuals.  Your time apart is only a short chapter in what will hopefully be your long love story. 

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