Keeping a relationship afloat: Advice from a long distance relationship

Any time I tell someone that I’m in a long distance relationship, I usually get “Oh wow, I couldn’t do that” or, “I tried that once, it didn’t last very long,” so when I reveal that I’ve been in a long distance relationship for over 3 years now, I always receive either a whole lot of respect, or just a whole lot of sympathy. (Maybe both?)

Regardless, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t change a thing about my personal situation because I’ve learned that when two people believe in not only being together, but sharing a future together, and work at it despite the obstacles, it makes it that much more precious, and provides endless motivation.

Don’t get me wrong, as you can expect, it is certainly not always rosy. There can be bad days. Sometimes there is miscommunication, and also, we are both busy people, and we can sometimes go weeks without a phone call or Skyping.

Though we always try to stay in touch in some form when we can typically through text or Facebook messages — all in all, I’d say that we’re pretty solid. That’s only because we’ve learned that sometimes there is pressing work and school and family, and neither of us should take it personally when the other cannot give all of their time when they don’t have time to spare.

Last Valentine’s Day, while most couples were going on cute, romantic dates together, mine was spent Skyping my boyfriend. Which, honestly, I didn’t find disappointing, since getting to Skype with Adam is always a treat.

Well, there was one disappointing aspect, and that was due to the fact that we had originally intended to have an actual Valentine’s date and visit, but things did not go as planned.

I still got a bouquet of roses and chocolates delivered to the door (take note, gentlemen, that will never go out of style) and even though it was one of the sweetest gestures and melted my heart, I still wished he could have been there in person, and part of me was a little depressed.

And while being three and a half hours away isn’t so bad compared to what it could be—and yes, we do get visits at least once or twice every 2-3 months during school semesters, even if it does take a lot of planning—being in a relationship makes that distance seem even longer, especially when it comes to anniversaries and holidays like Valentine’s Day. Admittedly, long distance relationships in the 21st century are made significantly easier due to technology, and I’m grateful for that. (My parents had to be long distance when my dad was stationed overseas in Europe while in the Army back in the 80s, and that meant snail mail as the basis of their communication, since phone calls weren’t even that dependable.)

I’m going to share some of the most basic pieces of advice and observations anybody can apply to their relationship, long distance or not.

Communication is key, but starting drama and demanding attention will eventually burn him/her out. It will turn you into a chore and constant source of heartache and guilt if you make it sound like they aren’t good at being a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Keep misundersandings between the two of you. Don’t post about it online for the entire world to see. (Even if they’re unaware that you’re sharing revealing tidbits about your relationship, this still applies.)

Don’t compare or try to emulate other peoples’ relationships. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors.

Don’t be patronizing, manipulative or offer ultimatums over petty things. (“it’s me or your friends tonight!”), because that’s dramatic. Respect that sometimes they have other interests and hobbies and friends besides you.

Be willing to hear them out and give them time alone if they need it. Everybody has their own side to the story, and if you want to express yourself, they should get the same opportunity.

Respect that they are trying to make ends meet, and are working hard too. Sometimes there is no room to be needy, clingy and selfish.

Sort things out sooner rather than later. Misunderstandings happen to every person and relationship of any sort and can be straightened out and laid to rest just as soon as they’re materialized. If they want some space to cool down, again, give it to them.

Don’t ever force anything, especially apologies. You also have to learn to be independent to some degree. In fact, there will be days where you might feel more single than in a relationship, especially in the beginning. Over time, the longer you are together, the more they become an integrated part of your every day life, and everything that affects them affects you, and vice versa. For other couples that don’t have that foundation from the start, of course it’s going to require more time and patience to develop. Trust cannot be contrived.

I wish that every couple could experience what it is like to be in a long distance relationship, because it teaches you what you’re both made of. It shows you if it’s worth it, and if there’s any real substance to those “I love you’s.”

It is revealing of character because there are more challenges and obstacles to work around than the standard relationship deals with.

I have seen some couples be together for years in short distance relationships, only to break things off in a matter of weeks after becoming long distance. Why? Because there were lots of deeply rooted issues that weren’t ever given a chance to be exposed beforehand.

Being in a long distance relationship is not for the faint of heart; it means choosing to take it to a deeper, more serious level of responsibility.

This year, I am happy to say, Adam and I are going to be spending Valentine’s Day together. Not through web cam or the phone. But in person. And I can’t even begin to express how happy and excited I am about it.

This will be our first Valentine’s Day spent together.

It’s a great reminder of how blessed we are to be in each other’s lives.

I wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether you are single or in a relationship, long distance or not—you deserve it to be happy and spent with those you love!

Rachel Read
Staff Writer

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