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As more and more people are finding themselves in long distance relationships, the belief that it is bound to fail has been proven to be unsubstantiated.
Many are in fact bound to flourish. I know from personal experience. I jumped in heart first to a long distance relationship nearly three years ago, and that has blossomed into what will soon become a marriage.
Over the past three years we have had times spent together and apart in three different countries. We have had times of intense connectedness and times of utter despair, but most importantly together we have learned how to use the ebb and flow of distance to our advantage.
Like other relationships, there are an infinite number of things that play into the success of a long distance relationship. I can offer ten tips that I wish someone would have shared with me. These won’t guarantee success, but I can assure you that they will make your long distance love life more about the two of you and less about the distance in between.
Although this distance may seem daunting at first glance, my hope for you is that you can soon see the challenge as an opportunity to grow individually and with your partner.
- Honesty must be your first policy. By that I mean you need to be honest with yourself and with your partner. Long distance relationships offer no room for guessing games of hard to get or otherwise. Be honest about your feelings regardless of how irrational they may seem. Tell each other where you stand in the relationship. That means both people know if the relationship is open, closed or on hiatus. This is even important for any lengthy separations.
- Set appointments. Whether it be for skype sessions, phone calls or however you communicate with each other, this is important. It gives each partner something to look forward to and prevents any arguments over why one person didn’t call or answer. This also means that you need to be on the same page about how often you want to talk. What each person expects may be different, so find a compromise.
- Make an effort to actually see each other. Even if it is just some sort of video chat once a week. We are very visual creatures. Seeing each other can really kindle the fire between the two of you.
- Continue to share your common interests. This can be anything. Is there a website that you both visit regularly? A show that you both watch every week? A sport that you both enjoy? A movie you both want to see? Maybe it’s a book, a class, an artist. The point is that you keep doing the things that you like to do when you’re together, even when you are apart. It gives you something to talk about when the conversation wanes and more importantly, you can feel connected to your partner despite the lack of physical presence.
- Do something unexpected. This could be something as fun as a surprise visit (provided your relationship has reached “surprise visits are okay” status) or as simple as handcrafted snail mail, which is my personal favorite. Text messages are also a sweet way to be reminded that there is someone special in your life. Be creative and find what works for you and your partner.
- Discuss your expectations. Especially your expectations regarding the future of the relationship. Expectations have the potential to ruin any relationship if they are not considered thoughtfully and kept in check at times.
- Be realistic about when you will see each other next. This is really simple, but it’s sometimes forgotten when you’re desperate to see each other again.
- Enjoy your time. Long distance relationships are not for the faint of heart. You need to really be able to examine yourself as an individual. Stay involved in your own life, after all this is most likely one of the reasons your partner was attracted to you in the first place.
- Accept bumps in the road. They will come. If you are not resilient and truly committed to the health of the relationship, you will give up easily. Remember that you will feel lonely and not connected at times. Rest in the fact that feelings are transient in their nature.
- Talk to each other. Of course, you are going to talk to each other on the phone, through email or otherwise, but I’m referring to talking when nobody is around. Yes, this sounds a little crazy but it does provide some comfort just to express yourself out loud. Plus, it’s better than just talking to yourself.
As for the rest, experience is the best teacher. There are many successful long distance relationships out there, and I’m happy to be part of that group.
Editor: Jennifer Cusano
Image: Dear John/IMDB