The world is an ever-expanding place, and we are able to enjoy the ride like never before.
If you recall from my last piece, I talked about how technology and applications are making it easier and faster to note and record important moments of our lives. Technology has also allowed us to connect with new people, as well as stay connected with old friends like never before, from seemingly light-years away.
It is because of these drastic changes in our ability to communicate, that long-distance relationships have shifted from being a rarity to fairly common. Yet despite the advancements in communications due to technological improvements, people still seem to struggle with making LD relationships work. Caring for someone doesn't mean that you have to be right next to the person, and as the past 20 years have shown, you certainly don't have to.
Being in an LD relationship myself (if you want to consider 200+ miles an "LD" relationship) for nearly two years now, there are several things that I have learned about myself and my significant other that have made the distance easier to cope with and actually have allowed us to thrive. These are the things that I believe can help those in LD relationships thrive.
1. Find commonalities
Every relationship, be it LD or right across the street, starts and thrives off commonalities. Specifically, with long-distance, it is essential that you find and maintain the things that drew you to the other person, to begin with. My girlfriend and I share the joy of reading and books, talking about books, and shopping at the local "el-cheapo" bookstores to keep us grounded. Sometimes we read the same novels and are able to talk about them via FaceTime, text, Snapchat, etc., and it makes for a very interesting way to pass the time. So finding common ground in the things that interest you, as well as being able to maintain those commonalities is essential for your LD relationship's survival.
2. Find time to talk
FaceTime. Text. good old fashioned phone calls. Communication is KEY in any relationship, but especially long-distance ones. You both have to understand that there will be times when you will probably go several hours without speaking to each other because well, life has to take priority sometimes. However, you have to always make sure that you set aside time throughout your day, at the end, or even at the beginning of your day to make time to simply talk. FaceTime has always been a really good way for my significant other and I to unwind and see each other face-to-face for a little while each day to keep the relationship fresh and enjoyable. Without that type of communication, anxiety and thoughts can get in the way of what is most important, which is where trust can be jeopardized, and then you have a whole new set of things to stress about. Regular communication is a MUST in an LD relationship because, among other reasons, it helps the other person believe that you are still very interested in them on an emotional level.
3. Keep it interesting
It might sound crazy, but I am unashamed to admit that my girlfriend and I kept a Snapchat streak going for a whopping 420+ days, and that could not be any less of an exaggeration. Basically, we would send each other silly selfies playing with the filters (obviously), send each other snaps of where we are currently, as well as what we are doing. As we all know, Snapchat is a unique way for people to see your daily life's happenings and musings, but for us, it was one of the ways we kept the relationship interesting. We would also regularly ask each other interesting questions that would cause us to go on discussions that went on for hours at a time. Finding ways to keep the relationship interesting from miles and miles away can be tricky at times, but if done correctly, it can make the other person feel that much more special.
For example, there was a new book (John Green's 'Turtles All the Way Down' for those that are interested) that she wanted very badly, but was going to have to wait several weeks before she could get it in stores for herself. Not to toot the proverbial horn of mine, but I took the liberty of ordering both of us a copy of the book off Amazon, and had her's shipped directly to her house, where I sat with her on FaceTime the day it was scheduled to be delivered, and waited for it to arrive and see her face.
It's little things like that that make the LD relationship seem that much more worthwhile! When you are able to surprise the other person with little gifts and such, it makes them feel like no matter the distance or time, you are thinking of them and committed to them.
Like all relationships, romantic or not, trust is one of those things that is difficult to gain and easy to lose. However, in a long-distance relationship, TRUST is truly a MUST. You have to trust the other person, and this means more than simply trusting them to go out with their friends every now and then. You have to trust them in the sense that sometimes you won't be able to talk 24/7, all day every day like you want to. You have to trust the other person enough to be able to leave the phone alone for potentially longer periods of time.
5. Leave it all on the table
Similarly to #2, you have to be open to all types of communication. Furthermore, you both have to be willing to talk openly and honestly about anything that might be bothering or upsetting you. We've all heard that holding everything in can cause more harm than good, especially for our interpersonal relationships, and this can be especially true when referring to LD relationships. When we don't talk about things with our significant other, we may become distant, which can cause the other to feel alienated about what is going on, and in a relationship where regular communication is crucial, not discussing our issues, no matter how big or minute, can cause a snowball effect.
I don't want to give the impression that talking about things can only help alleviate and even avoid the bad things. Talking about things can most certainly bring out the best of a relationship! For one, it can help build on #4 in the post, which is trust! You can also learn things about the person that you didn't previously know about them. There are a plethora of other reasons why leaving it all on the table is important in an LD relationship, however, the main thing to understand is that being open about your feelings and thoughts makes you display vulnerability, which is key. Don't wall your emotions off to the point that your significant other can't get close to you on a deeper level.
6. Practice patience with each other
Along with the occasional lack of communication thanks to life and its daily demands, comes the need for practicing patience with each other. They always say that patience is a virtue, and I am a firm believer that a lack of patience is one of the key reasons why so many LD relationships fail. So many people lack the wherewithal to handle patience, thanks to society and its development of this need to have everything at the snap of two fingers, and it leaks (or floods) into our relationships. However, if you are able and willing to practice the simple "adulting method" of patience, I believe that much more can be gained outside of a happier partner. For one, it shows that you are able to handle a standstill. When there is nothing happening and you are able to sit still and just enjoy the moment, you are showing that you can handle stress very well, and they can trust you to let them be an individual who has a life outside of the two of yours'. So sit back, relax, and hang in there. Everything will be fine.
Many people believe that being in an LD relationship leads to nothing but heartache, distrust, despair, strained feelings, and missing emotional pieces. However, I am here to tell you from experience that it truly doesn't have to lead to any of that. All it takes is effort from both parties, patience, the ability and willingness to communicate and, most importantly, the desire to MAKE IT WORK. Above all the other little pieces of advice given, this is probably the most important one of all. If you lack the basic desire to make it work with your significant other, than you have already most certainly lost the battle. It takes a fair bit of honesty with yourself, but if you are truly willing to make it work no matter the sacrifice or work needed, and the other person does the same, then I truly believe that any LD relationship can be successful, until the time comes when it no longer has to be an LD relationship anymore.