In a couple of weeks my boyfriend Vince and I will have been together for 2 years. To some people this might not seem like much but to me it is a milestone because we have a very peculiar relationship. Vince lives in the United States and I live in Europe. Out of the (almost) two years we’ve been a couple, we have only been together at the same place for a few months. Maybe half a year or so if we add up all the weeks that we spent visiting each other. Many people have asked me how a relationship like ours can work. To me the situation we are in has almost become natural but sometimes I realise how crazy we must sound to others.
I hope that with this post I can inspire people who might be going through the same thing or are thinking of starting a long-distance relationship but are not quite sure what to expect. I also hope I can give clarity to those who don’t completely understand how these things work.
Before I start rambling away, let me clarify that I am not able to give advice on relationships that were formed online. I personally don’t think it is a good idea to be in a relationship with someone you have never met, especially not if they apparently live far away. It is not safe and you could easily become a victim of ‘catfishing’.
A Little Bit of History
Vince and I met when he was studying abroad at my university here in London. For me it was ‘attraction at first sight.’ I saw Vince for the first time on the very first day he arrived. I was having dinner at the cafeteria with some of the girls I lived with and we saw a big group of people coming in. My wonderful friend Maria enthusiastically announced that the new Americans had stranded on our campus. Seeing new faces on our small campus was always very exciting and we were curious about newcomers. I saw Vince and I couldn’t stop staring, it was ridiculous. I explained to my friend Maria that I didn’t care because the Americans were going to leave anyway. I didn’t want to fall in love with someone who was going to leave me behind. I obviously had no idea what I was talking about. I would see Vince around campus all the time but never bothered talking to him because I didn’t want to get involved with an American. Well, you know how these thing go… One night I went to a party with my friends at the Student’s Union and there he was. Hanging out with his other American friends. Somehow I ended up talking to him after all. I just had to take that chance. I thought it had all gone horribly wrong until he added me on Facebook a couple of days later. I don’t think I need to tell you the rest of the story.
So, how do you make a long-distance relationship work?
A long-distance relationship is really like any other relationship but there are a few essential differences. Here are 6 tips on how to make it a great experience.
1. Get Creative
If physical intimacy and closeness are the most important factors to you, then don’t even think about having this kind of relationship. Being in a long-distance relationship means having quite a few lonely nights. However, once you can hold your beloved in your arms again it will feel like falling in love all over again. We all know how ‘amazeballs’ that feels, eh? Since there is no physical intimacy you have to be ready to communicate in a different way. Texting, skyping, face timing, writing letters, sending each other little gifts etc. Let your creative juices flow. It is important that you communicate effectively and honestly. Vince and I have a private blog where we post all kinds of things for each other. The posts range from music to funny videos to pictures. Arrange date nights by watching movies together. You can use Netflix if your connection is good enough. Since a LDR doesn’t allow you to be together physically, you have to try and at least feel together constantly.
2. Note the Time Difference
Take note of the time difference. It might not seem very important but if the time difference is greater than 2 or 3 hours it will matter. You might not go to bed at the same time. Sometimes you might even go to bed when your partner is already getting up. Also, the greater the time difference, the greater the distance, the greater the travel costs to see each other. Let’s not forget the jet lag you will experience when visiting…
3. Travel Costs
Barrett Strong once sang ‘The best things in life are free but you can give them to the birds and bees, I need money’. Because that’s what you will want and that’s what you will need when you want to see your significant other more than twice a year or so. I don’t even want to think about how much money we spent on plane tickets. In the end you might not even spend more money on the relationship than normal couples do. Normal couples might not have to spend as much money on travelling but they might just spend money on date nights and other things. If possible meet half-way. The costs might not only be less horrendous but you can also go on a new adventure together. Yay!
I think trust is always important. In any kind of relationship. Yet, in a LDR it is sometimes all you have. When your significant other is going out with friends and you know that it is one of those crazy nights, don’t panic. It is wrong to question them, or worse, accuse them of things they haven’t even done. You have to trust them or else the relationship is not going to work and that’s a promise. It’s OK to be anxious. If you are, just tell your partner and they should understand.
Like trust, honesty is important in all kinds of relationships. If you have any worries or fears that are bothering you a lot, you should probably let your partner know. Especially when it concerns the relationship. Sometimes omitting information is worse than telling them straight away. If you don’t say something straight away and they find out somehow, it will look like you were trying to hide something and that’s not good.
It is unhealthy to let your whole world revolve around one single person. Even though a LDR requires commitment, dedication and sacrifice, it shouldn’t become the one and only thing you care about. If you think about your partner 24/7 you will get miserable very quickly. It is normal and OK to miss someone. You can’t help missing someone when you care about them and they’re not with you. However, distraction is important so you don’t fall into a major depression. On top of that, imagine how your partner will feel if you cry yourself to sleep every night and tell them how miserable you are. They will most likely feel like they cannot live up to your expectations. The amazing advantage of a LDR is that it gives you space to grow as an individual. Concentrate yourself on your job or studies. Go out and explore the world. Take up a new hobby. Read a good book. Watch a movie. Educate yourself. Let your partner know about the new things you learnt. It will make a big difference.
If you have any more tips, feel free to share them in the comments!