I’m currently writing this from my girlfriend’s apartment in France. I have been in a long distance relationship with her for over six months now.
I also had another ‘LDR’ with an American girl, (I’m British, by the way), so I have a fair amount of experience with this and have decided to share my feelings on the subject with anyone who happens to read this.
I’m going to delve into some of the things I’ve learned over the course of my relationship, and discuss some of the commonly held misconceptions surrounding long distance relationships.
Can a long distance relationship work?
People who tell you that a long distance relationship can never work are simply cynical fools. If there were stats on this sort of thing, I bet you’d discover that they work out just as often as a ‘normal’ relationship. Of course, you can’t maintain such distance for the entire relationship. However, more often than not, a year or two apart at the beginning of a relationship makes it that much stronger, and teaches you a lot about yourself and each other.
The practicality, or lack thereof, of a long distance relationship is what most people would point out when discussing the matter. I do think this is a good point in general. Compared to an average relationship, long distance relationships do have their pitfalls when it comes to finding a suitable time to see each other, or to call each other, especially if there is a time difference in play.
The reality is, whether a long distance relationship can truly work, really depends on your circumstances. If you’re broke, it’s going to be very difficult to maintain a relationship between Australia and the United States, for example, for obvious economic reasons.
What I consider to be the main rule for whether or not a long distance relationship can succeed in the long term, is that one of you can eventually move to live with the other.
So, if you’re currently in a LDR, I think you should ask yourself this question; can one of you, or both of you, definitely abandon the life you have and move permanently to pursue a life with your partner? If the answer is no, I would say that you’re wasting your time. If you’re not willing to give up your job, for example, then you should reconsider your relationship, because you always have to make sacrifices in your life if you’re seeking to pursue a life with a long distance partner.
If you are willing to make sacrifices for your significant other, then there is no reason why your relationship can’t work out. As long as you know eventually that you have the possibility to be together permanently, then you shouldn’t have any doubts about moving forward with a long distance relationship. If you can truly see yourself sharing a life with this person, then it would be foolish to waste such an opportunity due to pre-held misconceptions about long distance relationships and their functionality.
Why long distance can be better
I strongly believe, that a long distance relationship can have huge benefits in terms of strengthening the bond between a couple, and really appreciating what you have with your partner.
The principal reason I would consider a long distance relationship to be better, is that you are much less likely to take your relationship for granted. If you only have the chance to see each other four or five times a year, you begin to genuinely appreciate the time you do spend together, and make the most of every second you have with your significant other. You never waste your time arguing or sitting on your phones not really talking to each other. Everything is that much more special because you haven’t had the chance to experience it for at least a few weeks usually, sometimes months, depending on your situation.
I am also a firm believer that long distance relationships have the potential to grow much stronger, much quicker, than any other relationship. This is mainly because when you’re together, you’re always together. You are literally living with each other from day one, spending all of your time together. You quickly adapt to this and become much more comfortable around your partner than you otherwise would. I believe this can really accelerate a relationship.
Sometimes it doesn’t always work out of course. Some couples simply can’t handle living together so early on in a relationship, so many long distance affairs don’t actually make it off the ground. Those that do, however, grow into extremely strong and stable relationships, where you feel almost too comfortable with your significant other at times. Living together so early on is a positive thing, as it forces you to adapt to some of your partner’s otherwise hidden habits or quirks that may have changed the way you see them later on in a relationship.
Another huge benefit to long distance, is that you skip the bullshit ‘dating’ phase. You discover everything about the other person all at once, there is nothing hidden from you. You can probably tell pretty early on in a long distance relationship if you think it is going to work deep down, as you get a full picture of this person, often within the first few weeks of knowing them.
The ‘rules’ for a long distance relationship
Since we now know that a long distance relationship can in fact work, given the right circumstances, what does a long distance couple need to do to ensure the success of such a relationship?
Well, beyond the standards for a ‘normal’ relationship, there are definitely a few things long distance partners should take into account in order for their relationship to flourish.
Define the relationship
Any normal relationship can have its complications and misunderstandings to begin with, but these are often amplified by distance. This is why it’s so important to discuss things with your partner at the beginning.
You should make sure you’re both on the same page about the relationship, where you see it going in the future, and if the relationship is exclusive or not. This may be awkward to discuss, but it’s very important to define a long distance relationship before you invest yourself into it.
Know each other’s schedules
Communication is key in any relationship, but it takes a different form in a long distance relationship. It’s obviously much more difficult to communicate when you’re thousands of miles away.
You’ll need to figure out each other’s schedules, and find regular times for Skype calls and whatnot. This is really important as you could end up going days without truly speaking with one another if you don’t set a regular time to call.
You have to ensure you put in the effort. A few texts a day just isn’t going to cut it with your long distance lover. You need to ensure that you’re really communicating with one another, not merely sending a few texts every now and again because you feel obliged to.
It’s always better to have a Skype call every other day than to simply send a load of pointless texts to each other all day, without really saying anything, or even wanting to say anything.
Understand each other
This encompasses a lot of different things, I’m aware. What I mean by this is that you need to understand that you each have your own lives to live and you can’t be communicating all the time.
In these types of situations, our brain seems to naturally predict the worst. Maybe your partner has gone out with some friends, and doesn’t text you for a few hours, and you worry about what they’re doing. You need to really trust each other and comprehend the love you have for one another. The reality is, most people aren’t scumbags who would take advantage of a long distance relationship and the uncertainty it can present, and go cheating on their partner with the first thing that moves.
Don’t be so paranoid.
Plan things together
One of my favourite things to do with my girlfriend is to plan trips. We met whilst travelling and we continue to travel together all the time. So when we are apart, we feel so much better when we are planning, or speculating on our future travels.
I feel like this is a common trend among long distance couples. Many couples meet each other while travelling these days, due to the facility of travel, and the ease of meeting other people from around the world in backpackers’ hostels and whatnot. Therefore, long distance couples are often keen travellers, and why not keep travelling together?
If you’re not into travelling, you could just plan what you’re going to do on your next visit to see each other. It’s always fun to think about how you’ll spend your time with your significant other, especially if you’re heading off on adventures around the world.
So, that’s it!
Long distance relationships don’t have to be that difficult, providing you have the right circumstances, you trust one another, and are fully committed to making the relationship work.
It can be difficult at times, but it is also so much more special when you’re together, as you appreciate every moment.
Don’t doubt yourself if you’re thinking about diving into a long distance love affair. Ignore those long-held misconceptions and go for it if you think it is right.