Most people say that long-distance relationships don’t work. But what do other people know?
Every relationship is different, and if you are in love, there is no reason why your long-distance relationship won’t last. Of course, there are some snags to any long-distance romance, but these can be easily dealt with as long as you are both committed to each other and determined to make it work.
As long as you are both committed to making it work you can be amongst those who going on to stay together in the long-term.
What Drives a Long-distance Relationship?
Work opportunities: sometimes unexpected work commitments can come up, or a promotion at a different branch can be offered. These golden opportunities need to be considered, and after all, it will not be forever. If you are truly committed to each other your relationship will stand the test of time.
Whatever the reason for the long-distance relationship, there is a lot of it about these days: approximately 14 to 15 million Americans give their relationship status as being in a long-distance romance, for a wide variety of reasons that range from work and school needs to parental and other familial duties. Fascinatingly, this figure has remained static for the last fifteen years, a remarkably stable figure given how the global landscape has changed so dramatically over that time.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that most of these relationships – almost ten million are marital relationships. We tend to think of long-distance relationships to be short-lived attempts by college kids to stay in touch with their first loves – but the data shows otherwise!
College students only account for just under a third of all long-distance relationships while an impressive seventy-five per cent of engaged couples are or have been involved in a long-distance relationship. Some three per cent of married couples live in long-distance relationships on a permanent basis.
There are many very happy long-term, long-distance relationships and there is no reason why you cannot beat the odds too: read on to find out more about how to make the most of your long-distance relationship.
Things To Know About Long-distance Relationships
Given all the pessimism about long term relationships, there is only one thing that you really need to know: they can work. This bears repeating – long-distance relationships can work! But – of course there’s a but! – you do have to work on them.
Just as regular relationships need work, so too do long-distance relationships. In fact, long-distance relationships need possibly even more effort than regular relationships as it can be all too easy too let things slide with a long-distance relationship unless care is taken.
Trust is very important in long-distance relationships as it is almost impossible to keep tabs on a long-distance partner. This means that more jealous partners can become distressed because they do not know exactly what the other partner is up to. (More on Trust in Long-distance Relationships below).
Long-distance relationships are usually time limited. Not because you will break up, but because the contract ends, the college course ends, or the deployment is over.
Sometimes just knowing that the end is in sight, and that the stress of the long-distance separation is not for much longer, is enough to help you push through the last few months or weeks.
How to Achieve Long-distance Relationship Success
Make A Commitment
The success of a long-distance relationship requires commitment and planning. Not only commitment to each other, although that is, of course, a given requirement, but commitment to communicating with each other.
You will have to make the effort to speak to each other, either by phone or through Skype, and even more importantly enjoy making the effort. You might need to let others know that you will be speaking to your partner at that time, and ask not to be disturbed which can be for as little as five or ten minutes, or as long as you like.
Make Time to Communicate
Of course, not all your communication needs to be planned – play it by ear, but usually you will be fine sending your loved one funny memes or vines, short loving messages or images of your meal or your outfit.
Social media makes it easy for long-distance lovers to stay up to date with each other’s doings with WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all offering a quick and easy communication channel that will not interrupt their busy days, but will allow them to stay current with your doings.
Any serious news should, obviously, be shared with them privately, and preferably before you put it out on a more public medium.
Make It Personal
Even though it is easy to stay in touch with each other thanks to social media, it is important to reach out to each other personally and privately.
Simply liking posts or images is not going to be enough in the long term: you will want to interact with each other just as you would if you were living in the same house.
You can even go old school and write to each other. There is something intimate about a hand-written page, and you can always pop something into the envelope to make them smile: a pressed flower, a funny badge or a small gift. You can spray the envelope with your usual perfume or cologne, so they can remember how nice you smell as they read the letter.
But you should want to tell each other everything! Generally, successful long distance relationships will have couples communicating each day.
Make It Special
You could also make the effort to try to send each other some small gifts. They do not need to be large, expensive or fancy – just a small token of your affection.
What is important is that it shows thoughtfulness and that it has been chosen deliberately for them.
Make It to Them
In a long distance relationship, you will be desperate to see each other in person as often as you possibly can. It will require planning some time off work, school or any other commitments, so you can maximise the time that you can spend together.
Successful long-distance relationships tend to involve meeting up at least once a month, even if the distance covered is over hundreds of miles.
Make Time to Chill
However, be careful not to overcrowd your schedule – rushing around to try and fit in a busy itinerary can make you both tired and cranky and this can drive a wedge between you.
Instead, allow plenty of time for hanging out together, watching television or streaming a movie with popcorn or other snacks. When you are together, make sure that you spend time talking, catching up with each other’s news and hopes for the future.
Keep It Fresh
The biggest part of a relationship to suffer when it is long-distance is, of course, the physical aspects. It is impossible to snuggle, cuddle, have petting sessions or have sex when you are miles and miles away from each other, and you can both end up feeling frustrated and lonely as a result.
But no contact does not have to mean no sex. There are ways that you can both be satisfied and even more in love than ever – all it takes is good timing, a little ingenuity and a strong Wi-Fi connection!
Phone sex or sexting can help strengthen the intimate connection between you and your partner whilst you are away from each other. It’s also a great way to experiment and tease your partner and keep them wanting more.
Depending on whether you are using video chat or just audio, hearing your partner moan with pleasure over your words can be just as exciting and powerful as sex in person.
Be certain that you have privacy for this – there can be little more embarrassing than having a parent or roommate walk in on you while you are trying to get each other off!
And if you own sex toys, you can watch your partner use them and have part in providing their pleasure. And that is a great way to fulfil both of you until you can see the other once more.
Trust Each Other
As mentioned above, trust in a long-distance relationship is key. For most people being able to trust their partners is simply part of the attraction. However, for those who have experienced the heartbreak of a cheating partner, or for those who are naturally more clingy or possessive, being in a long-distance relationship can be very stressful.
If necessary, you can ensure that boundaries on both sides are maintained by communicating some rules to which you both agree to adhere. This could include things like neither one of you getting drunk at house parties where single people might be looking to hook up, or it could be something as simple as just letting your partner know where you will be and who else will be there.
In this way, it is unlikely that seeing photographs of your loved one at a party, perhaps with people that could be seen as rivals, will not trigger any upset as it will be something known about and planned for.
This sort of excessive information sharing might seem like too much, but when you are far away from each other, and perhaps feeling a little bit insecure, it can be reassuring to know that you are important enough to be told his or her future plans before they are implemented. With all relationships, near or far, jealousy and clinginess can be an issue.
If you are prone to these, do try to contain them as acting on them may have the opposite result to what you desire: it could drive a wedge between you and your partner, leading to a break-up and unhappiness all around.
Live Your Own Life
As Paloma Faith says, you have got to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song! Make sure that you are a complete person without needing your partner to be there or to approve everything that you are going to do. Take up hobbies, learn a new language, go to interesting places, and make sure that you have as wide a social circle as possible.
Loneliness is one of the worst features of modern life, with many people actively avoiding social situations where they might need to speak to strangers, and having your partner many miles away can be very isolating. But if you have places to go and people to spend time with, you will be better able to cope with the long lonely hours before you are reunited with each other.
Instead of regretting the time apart, use these hours as a chance to broaden your knowledge base and your horizons, making you a more fun and interesting person to be with when they return!
Set Some Goals
There are two types of goals to aim for when you are in a long-distance relationship: short term goals and long term goals.
Under short term goals would be things like staying in regular contact with each other, as mentioned above, but also would incorporate staying off your smartphone or device when you do meet up in person for a change.
While regular partners who see each other daily might me happy to meet up and spend all their time on social media or Netflix, long-distance partners want to see, touch and talk to each other. Commit to switching off phones and devices, and really concentrate on enjoying your time together.
Do things together, even while you are apart. This could be something like watching the same movie, even though you are apart. In this way, you can connect as if you had watched it together, and it will make you feel closer to each other for a while. An alternative is to use a streaming service like Netflix to simultaneously watch a program or movie together through Netflix Party which allows multiple users to watch the same show from different locations.
Keep to your promises to call or meet up with each other. Long distance relationships might break from a missed phone call here or there, a date rearranged one time too many, no responses (or one word answers) to texts or emails lead to more and more cracks showing. Therefore, treat each promised contact as a beholden promise and be completely considerate of your partner.
Finally, set a date. No, not a wedding date – or at least, not yet a wedding date! Most long-distance relationships come about because of temporary situations: college, work, training etc. This means that from the beginning, most long term relationships have an expiry date on them for when you or your partner will return home and normal life can resume.
Long distance relationships come with an expiry date, and this can be very reassuring for the partner who struggles the most with the separation. Just knowing that there is a deadline on the job in hand can help a stressed partner cope better with the stresses and strains of an unwontedly single life.
The first thought on long-distance relationships is an old proverb that has proven its worth many time: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is very true as we are more easily able to overlook flaws or irritants when we are apart from the one we love. Little quirks and foibles that can be annoying when seen or heard every day can become charming devices that separate them from other people in our minds.
Secondly: Enjoy having the time to miss your loved one. This may seem a little bit like wallowing in your own grief and sadness but it is not saying that at all. What this quote is saying is to relish the loneliness because it will not last forever – they will come home (or you will go home!) soon enough, and you will enjoy being with them all the more for having experienced the lonely times without them.
‘The Simple Lack of Her is More Than Other’s Presence’. Edward Thomas’s beautiful quote says it all: the absence of his love – the void where she belongs – is worth so much more to him than any other woman. This quote is sure to be reassuring to those who worry that their partner will become enamoured of someone else simply because they are there, a warm body in the right place, while the partner is far away from them. This quotation shows that when you are truly in love, nothing and no one can fill the hole caused by their absence.
A final quotation says that, ‘Distance means so little when someone means so much.’ This is very similar to the quote above, although it also implies that distance is no real object when the subject of one’s love is so overwhelmingly important. It is this sort of love: bright, fierce, burning unquenchably, that sees the success of many long-distance relationships.