Anyone who has even considered having a long-distance relationship has stumbled onto these words at least once: "Long distance relationships never work. Period."
The reason why people hold such a cynical perspective on this seemingly cliché love from afar is because long-distance relationships take a lot of work. I'm not kidding: these types of relationships are the most work intensive. However, the benefits and outcomes are even better than those that originate out of common relationships. After being in a long-distance relationship that ended terribly after two years, I still have faith in these types of situations. I genuinely believe that we could all learn a thing or two from these types of situations, both to improve as people and as romantic partners. If applied well, these small details could carry out a very happy, long-term LDR.
Believe it or not, being in a long-distance relationship helped me get in touch with my extroverted side by forcing me to become a very straightforward communicator. Since LDR couples don't get the benefits of reading each other's body language or hearing the slightest change in each other's voices, clear communication is a must. Once you have that clear communication with your partner, you will find that the relationship will become a billion times more intimate. In my case, I eventually began talking to other people in this same way and the results were astonishing! My friendships improved and the conversations became so much more substantial and open, which leads me to another wonderful thing I learned to develop from my two years of geographical separation from my former partner: trust.
As a former clingy, invasive girlfriend, I can definitely say that trust is a major component in every relationship. If you do not trust your partner, don't even bother trying to keep a long-distance relationship alive: It will be the most stressful and anxiety-producing experience of your life. Accepting a lengthy distance between you and your partner with some extensive time apart requires an acceptance of other terms and conditions. You must also accept the fact that you will not always know and you don't need to know what they are doing all the time, the fact that you must rely on their own word and your own clear communication to know what is going on between you, and the fact that he or she is not worthy of your time if you two cannot work out that mutual respect and trust if both of you are loyal.
Now the major problem with long-distance relationships is the self-discipline. Yes, your partner is miles and miles away, and you have all these attractive people to check out. Could it really hurt anyone to get that one girl or guy's number? Think again. The more leeway you give yourself, the easier it will be to slip. My best advice is to end it right off the bat before you completely and irredeemably break your partner's trust, or take some time to think about that other person and your genuine feelings for them. Are they really worth it? Is there something more to them than just an appearance? Do you genuinely care about the other person's feelings?
Nevertheless, the most important thing I took out of my two-year journey was the gift of learning how to spend time with myself. There were times when I envied other couples with their ridiculously obnoxious public displays of affection, even though I had never found PDA appealing and I had never felt the same way when I was single. The more I bumped into these couples, the more miserable I felt without my former boyfriend at my side. Little did I know that my own happiness didn't have to hang on the thin string that was my relationship back then. I began going out with friends in lieu of dates. I picked up various hobbies to refrain from spending all my time glued to my phone and, therefore, placing all my happiness under the responsibility of one person. Due to this self-reliance, the breakup was not as hard as I thought it would be. Believe me, it hurt to break away from someone that I trusted with my deepest secrets, but in the end, I was glad that I had my own separate personal life going strong to remind me that I had other things to get back up on my feet for.
In the end, I was happy. I had failed to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship, but I had learned a lot more about my insecurities and interactions with people than I would have ever learned with a geographically close relationship. For all of those reading this and in an LDR: don't lose hope. It's hard, but doable. Follow what makes you happy, but most importantly, keep it positive and nourishing.