It takes great effort to be in a relationship, and adding distance to that only invites disaster, right? Not entirely. Long distance relationships have a bad reputation for being the death of any good relationship. We are advised against it by most people – our family, friends, even the coworker that minds their own business will look at you with pity upon learning that you are in a long-distance relationship.
However, sometimes you will see light in a dark tunnel – hear a rare success story that will incite a glimmer of hope – that hey, perhaps we can make it work.
Just like any relationship, long distance isn’t the same for everyone, so if it worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. It requires work, a lot of it. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth putting in the effort. As the age-old saying goes, success doesn’t come without hard-work and effort. So, if you are starting a long-distance relationship, or are currently in one and feel way over your head, fret not! We have compiled a concise and cohesive list of do’s and don’ts to make your long-distance relationship work!
DO: Keep Each Other Updated
The main thing that makes a long-distance relationship fail and plummet to its demise, is feeling disconnected with each other. To avoid the disconnect make sure your partner knows what’s happening in your life all the time, without sparing any details, no matter how mundane they may seem. Communication is all you have with the distance looming in front of you. Pick a time of day where you are both free and can make time to talk about your day!
DON’T: Over Communicate
Less is more! You don’t need to talk to your partner 12 hours a day to feel connected to them. You both need space to live your own life without the added pressure of constantly being in contact with each other. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so allow yourself space to communicate in a healthy manner. Remember it’s not about how long you talk, but the quality of your conversations.
Don’t be afraid to fight with your partner, if there is something that isn’t sitting right with you. Take it from renowned therapist, Dena Ward who explains, “Fighting is normal,” and “it is actually is very important. The key is fighting with a purpose.” So, don’t fear your relationship is in shambles if you and your partner have been arguing. Fighting is often a great way to convey your feelings to the other person – just make sure your fight is over something that actually needs fixing. A fight is healthy as long as it is productive and not hurtful.
DON’T: Fight Over Petty Things
Unlike in a normal relationship where you can make up ten minutes later over something as small as, “you didn’t text me back fast enough”, in long distance these things can be trickier. The petty, meaningless fights snowball into something bigger, because the frustration of distance looms over your heads. Especially since you aren’t face to face to solve problems rationally, it’s normal for it to escalate. Learn to forgive the tardy replies, and focus on the bigger picture.
DO: Share Your Fears
The one person who knows what you’re feeling in long distance, is your significant other – because chances are they are feeling the same thing. It’s normal to rant to your girlfriends about your fears and insecurities about the relationship, but the person you should truly be talking to is your partner. You’ll both be happier if you’re transparent about how you’re feeling! Remember, your partner isn’t a mind reader. Furthermore, don’t let your fears pile up. Deal with it in its infancy, to avoid it becoming something bigger.
DON’T: Mistrust Your Partner
Our insecurities often morph into distrust and worry. We start seeing things that aren’t actually there, through our lens obscured by our own self-doubt. The key is to remember that it’s not your partner that’s in the wrong, but your insecurities that you need to deal with. The more you distrust your partner the more you push them away. Trust and communication are key in any relationship. If there’s something that is bothering you – ask yourself, am I overanalyzing the situation and blowing it out of proportion?
DO: Spontaneous Gestures
It’s hard to keep the spark alive when you are miles away from your partner. Surprise each other with spontaneous gifts or messages. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just a simple message saying how much you miss them on a regular Tuesday morning, will keep the spark alive in your romance.
DON’T: Keep Score
When you keep score in a relationship – ‘I always text first’ – you’re fostering resentment. This ‘score’ creates an imbalance in the relationship, where you forget to empathize with your SO. When you focus on how much you’re giving and how much your partner isn’t, you’re automatically turning the relationship into one with strings attached. A relationship shouldn’t function on the idea of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’ Think of yourselves as the collective ‘us‘ – not just you or just him. It’ll help you see that it’s not you OR him, it’s you AND him.
DO: Recommend Things To Each Other
Just because your miles away doesn’t mean you can’t do things together. You can recommend a movie to each other or watch it together on Skype or FaceTime – a movie date without actually being together. Or suggest a book to your partner so the two of you can discuss it later at length!
Be 100% sure you see a future with this person before committing to a long distance relationship. You don’t have to necessarily be sure you’ll marry the person, but clarity on whether you actually want this person in your life for the foreseeable future, is enough. Often, out of convenience people commit to long distance without thinking things through. The stress, anxiety and effort isn’t worth it if you aren’t sure about the relationship. You’ll only be wasting your time and his.