The end of February will mark the 5th anniversary of my relationship with D. Since he was a college senior when I met him, much of our relationship was long distance. He was in college for the spring and fall semesters of 2009 and graduated in December. It wasn’t until 2012 that I would also graduate and have the ability to live near him. During those years, we lived about three hours apart when I was in college and two hours apart when I was at my parents house.
I am a believer in long distance relationships. They require a lot of work, respect and trust, but they can work. Every relationship is different, but I still think people benefit from hearing about how others succeed. I’ve read up on how authors write their books. They all have different methods and take widely different amounts of time to complete a first draft. Each author’s process is unique. Still, there is something to learn there. I think relationships are the same.
Maybe yours is different from mine, but I hope you find something of worth here.
1. Start the relationship reasonably close together.
Although we lived two hours apart over the summer of 2009, we have February through May and August through December together. We spent a lot of time together and found a real connection. I’m sure that, if we didn’t have that time to establish a connection, D and I wouldn’t be together a day.
2. Making visiting each other a priority, no matter how far away you are from each other.
I have a friend who defies my first rule. She went to college with me at The University of Iowa and met her now husband online. This guy lived in the United Kingdom. That’s long distance to the extreme. Still, they made a point to see each other. I think he came to the states to see her at least twice and she traveled to the UK to see him as well. She’s living in the UK right now and they just got married. Clearly their long distance did not hinder them.
D and I made a point to see each other once a month when we lived far apart. We took turns. One month I’d go to him; the next, he’d come to me. Sometimes we’d have even more time together if it was a holiday weekend. Seeing each other was a priority. I can remember D going so far as to drive straight from work on Friday to see me. He’d arrive late at night, stay with me all day Saturday and Sunday and wake up painfully early to drive straight to work on Monday.
3. Don’t let the relationship get in the way of your goals and dreams
One of my greatest dreams for college was to study abroad. I finally did this in 2011. I asked D many times if he was okay with this. Would he be okay if he didn’t see me for six months. He was completely supportive. If he would have been against my trip, I would have ended the relationship. This was my goal and no one was going to hold me back.
On the flip side, I had a couple of friends in college who toyed with the idea of studying abroad but decided not to. They didn’t want to be that far away from their high school sweet hearts. That seemed unhealthy to me. A relationship should encourage you to do anything and everything. You should feel empowered. Most of all, you should trust each other enough to know that six months apart won’t destroy anything.
4. Prioritize your dreams
As we get older, dreams and life goals change. Some will never be accomplished because a new dream becomes a larger priority. I don’t think this is anything to be ashamed of. For example, a person may have a career goal, or plan to live in a specific city. A romantic relationship can change all that, especially if it’s long distance. What is more important to you, your current career goals or this relationship. All long distance relationships eventually become normal distance relationships. At the very least, someone will have to move to make that happen.
You should never ever have to give up your dreams. Instead, you need to prioritize them. Decide what is most important to you. If your relationship has become bigger than some of your other dreams, don’t think of it as ‘giving up.’ Instead, you simply have a bigger dream in your relationship.
5. Be painfully honest
I’d argue this is good for all relationships, but it’s especially important in a long distance relationship. Give voice to anything that worries you and makes you uncomfortable. It might be simple, like worrying about your car with all the driving, or it may be big, like jealously toward a friend he frequently hangs out with.
The key is to describe everything. Don’t just accuse him/her of cheating. Mention the friend and that you sometimes find yourself worrying he/she likes the friend as more than a friend. You don’t want to worry anything, but it is something you think about. Request that the two of you and the friend hang out sometime so you can get to know them. At the end of the day, trust them unequivocally until the prove themselves unworthy. If the day comes where they do prove themselves unworthy, it may be time to end the relationship. Sure, long distance is hard, but it’s no excuse for lying or cheating.
Don’t listen to anyone when it comes to long distance. Take it from someone who has been there, people will tell you it won’t work. They will try to destroy your trust. They will become jealous when you up and leave to go see your lover. Long distance relationships require a huge amount of mental strength and maturity. You have to put up with all the nay-sayers and keep believing in what you have. At the end of the day, a long distance relationship has the same potential of working out as a ‘normal’ relationship. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing a love you believe in.
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? Are you currently in one? What did/do your friends and family think of you being in a long distance relationship? What are the best tips you have for those trying to make long distance work? Do you think long distance relationships are worth the effort? If you’ve never been, would you ever consider a long distance relationship?