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Simple Ways to Excel at a Long Distance Relationship

I'm a Midwesterner with a background in writing and media. My articles are mainly about relationships, dating, and heartbreak.

Being in a long-distance relationship isn't for the faint of heart. It takes a great amount of willingness to prevent getting into limbo.

The goal will be to close the gap in the relationship. Usually, long-distance relationships are continuations of already established relationships. It might prove even harder to start an LDR with someone you have only recently met. What is the definition of a long-distance relationship? That depends. For some people, living on the other side of town could be too far away -- but if you're having to travel more than an hour and a half -- you're definitely in long distance territory. What makes a long distance relationship really hard is when you live in places where there is no chance of seeing each other without long travel. When you live in separate states or in countries on either side of the globe, this can make things especially complicated.

Some of the most important things you need to know about navigating through these terse waters:

  • Use the Internet to your advantage. There are lots of websites and tools you can use to connect with your mate. Doing an LDR in the present is much easier than it was 30 years ago.
  • Know each other's schedules. You might go to sleep and wake up at different times. You need to respect each other's sleep time.
  • Be honest. Cheating concerns do come up. Discuss ground rules with each other. You can try seeing where things will go, and if someone seems to be making a connection with someone else that is more convenient -- than maybe it is time to let them go.
  • Stay positive! This should probably be your number one rule. You don't want your conversations with your partner to always go south. Try to keep it upbeat, have fun, bring in some enthusiasm. Your partner is dating you for a reason, and it's not because you're their nagging accountant.
  • Celebrate their accomplishments, show empathy when they are sad.
  • Snail mail is your friend. Don't be shy when it comes to mailing someone things that they would enjoy from gifts to letters. Keep the romance alive!
  • Try to set goals of when you can meet up. A long distance relationship needs time for when you can actually see each other in person, have physical contact, and all that jazz.
  • During the course of the long distance relationship, you should still be progressing. You need to talk out what is going on between you two, what you want, what you need, what you love, what you hope. All of that. If you don't seem to be growing, you may want to consider what exactly is happening.
  • Don't just keep the relationship because you enjoyed it when he or she was closer. If it seems to be falling apart when they leave -- then don't hang on for dear life. Be patient, but don't hold to it if it's no longer working. Relationships are there for you to test the waters before making larger commitments with someone.
  • If you are getting sad, seek your friends, family, or professional help. LDR can be draining on you both mentally and emotionally. Not to mention several other factors that have to do with your wellbeing.

Don't Be Upset With Them For Leaving

It may be sudden, it may be practical, but it is very easy to be upset when someone leaves. Sometimes an LDR is planned, other times a new job pops up, and it's time to check out that job. People get involved in the military, they go to school, they travel around the world, and they get jobs. LDR is a phase that many relationships see. You should discuss what you want out of the relationship, you should discuss your feelings and hopes -- but don't rat them out too much for wanting to take an opportunity. If you are married they should come to you before committing to a decision, but don't jump to conclusions about their motives.

Being upset with them will make it harder for them to leave. Understand that when a person leaves to go on their adventure, he already has a lot of stress. To help your partner, enjoy your time with them. Support them by being a comforting person, give them some pointers, and let them know you are there for them. Don't throw them under a bus just for the sake of throwing them under a bus. They need you right now, even if you can't go travel with them physically. If they are having to move suddenly, they will have to look for new housing, get new car tags, move items, buy groceries, make new friends, and literally destroy the world they know. It isn't the easiest step in the world for most people, so do your best to stay supportive.

Be there to be the shoulder they cry on. Be graceful and understanding. If things need to end, take the high road, and be considerate through it all. Breaking up in these situations, especially in early romances, can be hard, but it doesn't have to mean that your connection was bad or injured. It's more than anything a logistical issue.

As for marriage, try to fight for the commitment as much as possible. Consider why you are not moving closer to them, and if you have to legally separate, or if it is something you need the patience to overcome and see-through.

Scheduling With Your LDR

An LDR needs some amount of scheduling.

  1. Set up a schedule of when you can meet next. You may want to talk well in advance about when you can spend your vacation time around each other.
  2. You should strive to talk to each other on the phone, Skype, FaceTime or another application about once a week. You need to keep up with each other. If once a week isn't enough, make it twice a week. If you don't hear from your partner once a month . . . you may be on thin ice.
  3. Schedule when you can send gifts, letters, and the like. Make a document about things you can talk about if you feel like there is nothing you can say. Plan ahead what kind of questions you want to ask, what kind of things you want to know, and keep it lively! You don’t want your time together to be in silence.
  4. Plan out whether you will see each other during the holidays or not. Will you see each other for Christmas or Thanksgiving? Why or why not?
  5. Try to have a rough plan of what you will do when you see each other. If you are flying into an airport, you need to get there at a time that is reasonable for them to pick you up, ideally. If you know they are coming to see you on a certain weekend, you should see what events are happening in town that might interest them. You want to show them how great of an adventure everything will be.

Stay Positive

I know it is all too easy to get strained by an LDR. But you want to put in as much positive energy into the relationship as possible. Continue to be enthusiastic, excited, and genuine. See this as an opportunity for your relationship to grow and for the two of you to get to know each other. Don't let your mind or emotions get the best of you. It is all too easy to have a breakdown or 17, and most of that is triggered by worrying too much. Do what you can to relax, stay healthy, and know that the universe and God have your back. It might not be easy, it might be terrible for those who are impatient, but there is an end in sight.

If the person is worth continuing the relationship and seeing where it goes, then don't panic. If they like you and want to see where it goes, then you are in a good spot.

Try to be as supportive and kind as you can. It is especially difficult for someone who moves to have to control their anxieties, so the other person will need to help support them and comfort them emotionally. If you can do this, then you will win favor with them beyond just a simple relationship. You might not end up together in a happy, bow-tied-up-nicely marriage, but you can show this person love. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Don't walk all over them, be manipulative, withdraw emotionally.... just try to be the best version of yourself.

Remember, one of the most important vows in a marriage is that you will be with them whether in sickness or health. If you can prove that you are together in a long-distance relationship, it will be that much easier to prove that you can stand by them when they are sick, which is the ultimate test of a relationship.

Unfortunately, all of us are mortal. We will all end up reaching our last day on this planet, and for many of us, this means we will have a battle with some sort of sickness. It makes a huge difference when you can have somebody you trust by your side helping you as you take your last breaths.

When in Doubt, Get Help

You are not alone! Many people you know have been in an LDR. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who have been through similar experiences. Seek your friends and family. If you are struggling with your emotions and mind, go seek professional help. There are counselors who specialize in relationship troubleshooting. They can give you an idea of how to cope with the situation, and they can also help you develop a game plan to better approach the scenario.

Also, encourage your partner to seek help if they are starting to feel lost in the mess. You are not the first person to wander through the uncharted waters of a long-distance relationship.

You can also head to the bookstore, look online for help, and go to a church or similar religious body to get advice. There are lots of books out there on relationships — and sometimes knowing some Myers Briggs will help you navigate the reasoning of why your partner is responding to you the way they are. Just remember you are not alone. You need to continue being you, striving after your hobbies, and developing your social network. This may be a good time for you to take a philosophical quest or get closer to God. You might find yourself with more free time — so try filling it with things that make you happy.

Don’t solely depend on your partner for happiness. In the words of Cher, men are a luxury. She doesn’t mean that as a bitter comment, but they are dessert. You do not have to be in a relationship. It isn’t required. Relationships are a comfort and a luxury. It is supposed to be enjoyable. It is supposed to help you through the tough times.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Andrea Lawrence