Long distance relationships (aka LDR) suck sometimes. Of course you have the cute text messages and emotional homecomings and visits, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. An LDR is hard. Very hard. It comes with its own set of challenges that “normal” relationships don’t always have to face. After a lot of thought, I came up with many ways of how to get through a LDR. It may be challenging, but it’s definitely not impossible. So here are my 10 Commandments of a long distance relationship.
RESPECT EACH OTHER.
Mutual respect is so important in a relationship. Respect each other’s feelings, thoughts, views, personal boundaries, etc. Don’t lie to one another or keep things from each other or be sneaky in any way. I respect Zack and our marriage enough to not put myself in a situation he wouldn’t be okay with me being in. I’m not going to surround myself with questionable people or people he doesn’t know. You’re not going to find me spending alone time with someone of the opposite sex, no matter how innocent the situation may be. If you don’t respect your partner and your relationship, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them.
I know visits aren’t always doable as often as we’d like. This one can be a bit of a challenge depending on how long distance your relationship actually is. When Zack and I first started dating, he was in North Carolina while I was in Vermont. It was about a 15 hour drive. In the six months we were long distance, I drove to North Carolina to see him twice. Once in July (when we became a couple) and again in October (when we got married). He then took the time off to come to Vermont and Maine that December to see our families and help me make the move to North Carolina.
If you’re living in separate countries, then you can’t realistically expect to see each other for every holiday or special occasion (unless, of course, you’re rich or something). But it’s good to make plans with one another and see each other as often as possible. This may mean you only get to see each other for one week out of the year. Whether it’s one visit or twenty visits, make every moment you have together, count.
COMMUNICATE OFTEN AND OPENLY.
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. When you’re long distance, communication is even more vital. Schedule the time to talk to one another throughout the day. Text, call, Skype, whatever it may be, find an effective way to communicate with each other and do it as often as possible. Sometimes differences in schedules or even time zones can affect when and how often you and your partner talk. It doesn’t matter when it happens, as long as it does.
You also need to learn to communicate openly and effectively. Don’t waste time playing hard to get or keeping your feelings to yourself or making your partner guess what’s wrong with you that day. It’s not fair to them and it’s not going to help in any way. Your partner can’t read your body language or determine your mood from a text message. If something is bothering you, say it. If you’re feeling a certain way, then let your partner know. Issues can’t be resolved if you’re not communicating openly.
This one should kind of be a given. You can’t go into a LDR with a negative attitude or it’s just not going to work out. Negativity can affect your relationship way more than you think. You can’t spend your time thinking it’s not going to work or that you can’t do it or that it’s too hard. You need to find ways to look at the bright side and make it work as best you can. Tell yourself you can do it and that it will work out and that the distance isn’t forever.
FORGIVE, FORGET, AND MOVE ON.
Arguments can be tough on any relationship, but in a LDR, they can easily break a relationship if you let it. This is why it’s important to learn how to argue. Yes, I said learn how to argue. Know when you’re wrong, apologize when necessary, forgive your partner for their mistakes, and learn how to move on. Everyone makes mistakes at some point and the distance associated with a LDR can make some situations seem way worse than it actually is. You can’t move forward if you’re still arguing about something that happened five months ago and this can really take its toll on a relationship and add some unnecessary stress to your LDR.
BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE.
In any relationship, you need to learn to work together with you partner. You’re a team. The same goes for when you’re miles apart. If your partner visited you a few months ago, then it should be your turn to visit next. If this just doesn’t work (like with me and Zack, he couldn’t visit me without taking leave), then take turns paying for the trips so it’s not so one sided. A LDR can get expensive so it’s important to make sure everything is as equal as possible. It’s not just financial, either. There are so many decisions than you need to make as a unit which will almost always result in a compromise of some sort (unless you’re super strange and you two always agree on everything).
KEEP IT FUN.
There are so many ways to make a long distance relationship more fun. Plan trips together. Have a Skype date where you both watch the same movie together. Send cute texts throughout the day to let your partner know you’re thinking about them. Send snail mail and fun care packages (check out jomygosh.com for awesome care package ideas!). Find ways to make it easier to handle the distance and feel closer to one another. Long distance doesn’t have to be boring and depressing at all times.
TRUST ONE ANOTHER.
Trust has always been an issue for me in the past. Luckily, I’ve been great with it with Zack. We’ve never given each other a reason not to trust one another. I trust him to be on the other side of the world without me. He surrounds himself with good people and makes smart decisions so I have doubt in my mind that he’s okay over there. Our marriage is very important to us and neither one of us would do something that would jeopardize everything we have.
MAKE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.
It always helps to have a plan for the future of the relationship. When Zack and I were long distance dating in 2013, it was so much easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing we had a moving date set and ‘milestones’ along the way. I needed that. It made me feel better to know he loved me and to know that he wanted a future with me. I felt like we were working towards starting our life together which made it easier to stay positive and excited about our relationship.
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED.
When times get tough, take a moment to remember why you decided you wanted to make it work in the first place. For me, it’s always been that I want a future with Zack. He’s the one that I want to live my life with and have by my side through everything life throws at us, good and bad. He’s the one that I want to be father of my children and the one that I want to be celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary with. That future is what keeps me going.
What do you feel is important in a long distance relationship?