Your parents, your friends and even the clerk at the whole foods store has probably warned you against pursuing a long distance relationship. Sadly, most of them don’t work out, and they can cause more heartache than they’re worth. If you aren’t completely committed to a long distance relationship, things can fall apart surprisingly fast, leaving you to wonder what went wrong.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the long distance relationship work – even in your favor. Depending on how far you live from your beloved, regular contact is feasible, and absence does make the heart grow fonder. Spending time away from your partner can grant you the knowledge of what your life would be without that other person, and teach you how to make the most of your time together.
Obviously, long distance relationships are much easier when you have known the other person for quite some time. A couple that is suddenly parted after months or years of commitment will do better in the long-distance setting than a new couple because there is more of a foundation from which to proceed. A new couple requires more physical proximity in the first few months of the relationship in order to establish boundaries and rhythm.
Regardles of the age of your relationship, however, here are a few tips to get you started on the long-distance journey.
1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
When you are first parting, it is easy to make promises that are not feasible because the rush of emotions is so strong. “I’ll write every day” and “I’ll fly up there twice a month” may not be realistic goals, and will eventually crumble the relationship.
Instead, consider your schedule and that of your partners and work out how often you will be able to see one another. If you both have e-mail, a daily note might be possible, but don’t guarantee that it will happen. Your partner will be pleasantly surprised to find a “New Mail” message every day, rather than disapointed when you have to miss a couple.
2. Plan visits in advance.
If you are living so far apart that flying is the necessary mode of transportation, plan those trips well in advance. That way, you’ll get better rates on airfare. It might be tempted to visit on the spur of the moment, but since you are both leading separate lives, planning is necessary.
3. Don’t raise your expectations.
Just because your partner is moving away doesn’t mean that you should raise your expectations of him or her. Refrain from requesting the impossible, such as a flight to their town every weekend. Don’t expect major gifts every time you see one another, and don’t require him or her to go out of their way to please you. This will only work if you are both willing to compromise.
4. Talk about your day.
When you speak on the phone, don’t limit your conversation to major events that have happened over several days. Talking about mundane, ordinary happenings will retain a sense of normalcy between partners. Bring up the growth of your flowers in the front yard, the long line at the grocery store, and the funny think your colleague did at work. If you don’t talk about ordinary things, the relationship will lose its appeal.
5. Plan for the future.
If this is a serious relationship, don’t stop planning for the future. You shouldn’t rush a new relationship, but if you have been seeing one another for several months or years, its okay to continue gazing into the crystal ball. Sometimes, discussing the time when you will again live in the same town will provide the momentum needed to continue the long distance relationship.
6. Don’t harbor resentment.
If your partner is the one who had to move, don’t let resentment build in your, because it will eventually explode. If you are angry with him or her for leaving, talk it out. Your partner deserves to know how you feel, and if the relationship has a hope of survival, you must be open and honest with one another.
7. Be honest.
If you meet someone else, let your partner know. Its only fair that you both be kept in the loop, and harboring a secret crush will only make things worse. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, and you have to keep moving forward with your life.
Likewise, you will probably be meeting new people and making new friends. Even if your friends are of the opposite sex, your partner should know about them. You don’t have to disclose every detail of your life, but remain true to your partner by keeping him or her informed of your activities.
Last of all, good luck in your long distance relationship. If it is meant to be, then you and your partner will get through this difficult time and be stronger, healthier, and more in love than you’ve ever been before.