Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder? Or is it “out of sight, out of mind”? In other words, can long distance relationships (LDRs) really work? If so, how?
Many people face the LDR dilemma at some point in their dating lives, and the decision whether to embark on a relationship across miles can be tough. Even though today’s technology makes the world seem smaller, the everyday realities of dating someone who lives far away can seem overwhelming.
For many years I was a naysayer, assuming that these relationships were ultimately doomed. It didn’t help that the two long distance relationships from my own past failed. But after an Ask Janice reader wrote to me about her LDR, I did some research with an open mind. I’m now convinced that these relationships can actually work!
All relationships take effort and require the basics: love, respect, communication, and commitment. And friendship, of course, because the best relationships are rooted in a solid friendship. Long distance relationships are no different, and are totally do-able if both parties are willing to put in the work.
Here are a few tips for couples trying to share their love across the miles:
- End Game: If you’re considering an LDR, you both need to agree on where you’re headed as a couple. Will one of you eventually relocate and join the other, or will you always live separately? What about marriage and/or kids? One or both of you may change your minds because people and relationships evolve. But even if your “end games” don’t match exactly at first, (like he wants marriage, but you’re not quite there, yet), you at least need to know where each other stands and be down with it. If it turns out you want completely different things, then a romantic relationship probably wouldn’t work anyway, regardless of distance.
- Trust: This one’s a no-brainer. Without trust, your relationship won’t work. But let’s be real: your own insecurities often make trusting hard, no matter where you live. Add a few thousand miles into the mix, and it’s easy to let your imagination run wild and bring the drama. Like, if too much time elapses between calls, your mind immediately conjures up images of him with that chick from his office you never liked. But remember: proximity doesn’t guarantee fidelity!
One more time for the folks in the back. Proximity doesn’t guarantee fidelity! Folks cheat when they live in the same damn house! Before you start jumping to crazy conclusions the minute he doesn’t immediately text you back, check yourself first. Has he ever really given you a reason to worry? Or are you just listening to those little voices of doubt in your head? If it’s the former, then Houston, we have a problem. If it’s the latter, it’s time to reflect on why you feel that way, which probably has nothing to do with your significant other.
- Date Nights: It may sound cliché, but in today’s fast-paced world, even couples who share a home have to schedule date nights. These hectic, over-booked lives of ours can wreak havoc on romance, especially if you’re in different time zones. So you need to schedule some uninterrupted, quality time with your partner when it’s convenient for you both. Whether you Facetime or video chat, use these precious moments to focus only on each other. Look into each other’s eyes and really Make it special with music, lighting or anything else you’d do if you were in the same place. Be diligent about doing this (weekly date nights would be ideal), but be flexible, too. You may sacrifice an hour or two of sleep, but it’ll be worth it because it makes your partner a priority.
- Talk It Out: When you’re in an LDR, you may not get to talk often. So you may be tempted to sweep the little things that bother you under the rug. Don’t do it! I get that you don’t want to waste your precious screen or phone time quibbling over some B.S. But left unchecked, little problems can become big problems in no time. Choose your timing and tone wisely, but don’t keep those minor nuisances to yourself. The sooner you raise an issue, the sooner it can be resolved. And since these issues often result from simple misunderstanding, isn’t it better to confront them before they cause irreparable damage?
- Be Honest About Your Feelings: First, you have to be honest with yourself. How does this relationship makes you feel? Are you really happy? Do you need more frequent contact? Or are you truly content with the way things are? Once you have a handle on what’s going on in your own heart and mind, open up to your significant other about it, and encourage them to be open with you. Really listen to each other. It’s important to check in with yourself and each other often.
- Keep it spicy: I don’t care if you’re so shy you can’t even name your own body parts without blushing. When you’re part of an LDR where sex is already part of the equation, you need to get over yourself and engage in some flirty, sexual banter (at minimum) or even full-blown, long distance loving. I’m not saying you should be sending dick & boob pics all willy-nilly. Use common sense, of course. But distance and sexual intimacy don’t have to be mutually exclusive! If you have a robust and satisfying sex life when you’re together, you need to keep those fires burning when you’re apart. Keep an open mind and get creative. Besides, long distance intimacy makes those precious reunions that much hotter!
Speaking of reunions …
- Don’t Over Plan: At long last, your significant other is finally coming to visit and you’re so excited you can’t breathe! This is where you may have to reign in your enthusiasm to avoid over planning your time together. I know you’re eager to show off all the amazing things you’ve seen and the cool places you’ve been, but the two of you need to have some “chill” time (without sex), too. Don’t try to fill every moment with activity or every silence with words. Rather, allow yourselves the time to just relax and enjoy being in the same space for a change.
- Manage Your Expectations: Especially during that long-awaited reunion. I know you’ve talked about all the wild sex you plan to have. You’ve probably imagined an epic, erotic event with fancy lingerie, scented oils, and gravity-defying positions. You’ve waxed and tweezed yourself raw in anticipation. You’ve lived in the gym trying to lose that 7 pounds you gained since you last each other. You want your reunion sex to break records, headboards and possibly a limb or two. But that’s a lot of pressure! Even porn stars couldn’t pull off all the antics you’ve planned. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. It’s okay to be excited, but you gotta be realistic, too. If you’ve never successfully had sex swinging from the chandelier, you probably won’t do so now. Keep it hot, but keep it real.
- Use All Available Communication Tools: It’s easy to fall into only using one form of communication when you’re in an LDR, like texting. But healthy relationships, regardless of proximity, require more than just thumb typed messages. So many problems can be avoided by changing how you communicate. It isn’t always easy, but try to actually speak to each other as often as possible. Texting, with all its shortcuts and emoji’s, can lead to misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Besides, sometimes you just need to hear your partner’s voice. Or to look into each other’s eyes. These days, long distance lovers can easily share face-to-face intimacy thanks to technology. You can even change it up and send actual letters and cards to each other, too. There’s something special about getting a handwritten letter from your love. It’s romantic and sweet.
So, there you go! Did I miss anything? Are you a member of the Fonder Hearts Club (in a long distance relationship)? What works for you? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Photo Credits: Sophiegee.com, kokolife.tv, and 47vibez Media.
Ask Janice your intimate question. Write to ASKJANICE@suzyknew.com