Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work: 7 Tips from Someone Who Has Been There (More Than Once!)

Eric actually took this picture from the plane as we were landing in New York at the beginning of our recent trip.  I edited it (obviously), but I thought it was an appropriate image for today's post.

I used to refer to myself as "The Queen of Long Distance."  (Lovely title, I know.)

Seriously, though ... During my dating years, I seemed to have this weird habit of getting involved with guys who weren't physically around on a regular basis.  This wasn't always the case, of course, but each of my 3 most serious relationships were, at some point, long distance relationships.

Obviously they didn't all work out, but in each case we made it work for a pretty long time.  It definitely wasn't easy, and it required a lot of effort from both people ... But living far away from someone you love doesn't have to mean giving up on the relationship.

Many of the tips I'll be sharing with you today are common sense, but these are some of the things that really helped me deal with the distance.  And, if you ever find yourself in a long distance relationship, maybe they'll help you too.

1.  Make an effort to talk at least once a day every day.  There will be times when, for whatever reason, this just doesn't happen, but those precious minutes (or hours) you have to talk mean everything when you're in a long distance relationship.

2.  Talk about "real" stuff.  I'm not saying you should only have deep philosophical discussions or that you can't ask your boyfriend/girlfriend how his/her day was, but you should definitely push yourself to share more than your favorite color/song/book/movie or the mundane details of your last physics exam.

3.  Don't be afraid to express your feelings.  Obviously if a relationship is in its early stages, you may not be all, "I love you so much and want to marry you and have your babies."  (I mean, I guess you can say those things, but you run the risk of forcing your significant other to run screaming in the opposite direction.  Trust me ... When guys were like this with me early on, I immediately began weighing the pros and cons of remaining in the relationship.  It typically didn't last long.)  When you're apart, though, you have to primarily rely on verbal (or even written) communication to tell the other person you care.  So if you want your significant other to know how you feel, just say it.

4.  Surprise each other.  Grand gestures really aren't necessary ... It's the small things that can really make a difference.  Once, after I'd flown to visit an ex-boyfriend, he met me at the airport.  When we got to his car, he turned it on and asked me if I recognized the music playing.  He'd gotten me a CD I'd mentioned I wanted a few weeks prior and it acted as the soundtrack for our drive back to his place.  It was simple, but nice because he'd obviously been listening (even though I'd just mentioned the CD in passing).  An even better example?  I lived in Wisconsin (about 7 hours from Eric) for a little over a year.  I had no plans one weekend, and was just hanging out in my bedroom, wasting away on the internet.  Suddenly, my apartment buzzer went off.  I kind of got freaked out since it was kind of late on a Friday night, I was in my pajamas, and I wasn't expecting anyone.  I thought maybe someone had buzzed the wrong apartment, so I didn't bother to go to the intercom to check.  My phone started ringing ... It was Eric.  As I answered it, the buzzer went off again.  I told him that someone was outside and that it was kind of freaking me out, and he said, "Maybe you should answer the door."  It still didn't click, so I responded with, "Well, what if it's some weirdo or something?  I don't think any of my friends from work would be stopping by without calling first, and I'm in my pajamas and ..."  He then cut me off and said, "I really think you should just answer the door."  And then I knew.  He'd driven the 7 hours just to see me for a couple of days.  Best surprise ever!

5.  Make the most of your time together.  When you actually have a few days to spend together, enjoy it.  This is an obvious one, I know, but really ... Make every moment count.  Try something new in your city, take a short road trip to a cool place (Eric and I drove to both Chicago and The House on the Rock when I lived in Wisconsin), cook dinner together, spend copious amounts of time cuddling ... The list of options goes on and on.  It doesn't really matter what you're doing, as long as you're having fun and doing it together.

6.  Make plans for future visits.  When you're in a long distance relationship, the end of a visit can make you feel like your whole world is caving in.  There are tearful goodbyes, rib crushing hugs, and kisses you wish would never end.  I'm not going to lie ... It's fucking awful.  That's why making plans for future visits is so important.  If you at least have some sort of plan in the works, it's not quite as hard to say goodbye.  Okay, that's not entirely true ... But it's still nice to have something to look forward to while you watch half of your heart (this probably sounds dramatic, but it's so true when you're in love) head into the airport or drive away.

7.  And, finally, the two most important things you need to make a long distance relationship work: trust and honesty.  Yes, you need trust and honesty in any relationship, but you literally cannot have a long distance relationship without these two things.  You're not going to know what the other person is doing every second of every day, so if they don't pick up the phone when you call, you can't freak out and start imagining that they're out with someone else.  You also can't hide things from each other.  If you're having an issue (especially if it's an issue with them!), you have to be able to talk about it.  If you don't, it can make things awkward at best (or, in a worst case scenario, possibly lead to a blowout fight and an eventual breakup).

Long distance relationships can actually be pretty amazing if you're both willing to put in some effort.  One of the best things about these types of relationships is that they allow you the opportunity to really get to know one another.  You spend a lot of time talking (instead of making out for hours or having sex every chance you get), which helps you build a strong foundation.  The other stuff is great too, of course, but in a long distance relationship it becomes even more special because it doesn't happen all the time.

Long distance relationships also give you the opportunity to share your hometown (or new city, if you've moved) with the other person.  Every time you visit one another, it's like a mini vacation ... And that's actually pretty cool!

They're not for everyone, but they can work out.  The only catch?  If you're really serious about one another, you'll eventually have to live in the same place.  I mean, Eric and I wouldn't be married now if I hadn't taken the plunge and moved to Omaha to be with him.  I won't lie ... I was fucking terrified to make that move.  But I'm so glad I did.

1 comment:

  1. […]  How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work: 7 Tips from Someone Who Has Been There (More Than Onc… (originally posted […]