Twelve months ago today, I was on a plane to Dubai writing a letter to my boyfriend. I forgot to post it and found it the other day in the middle of a notebook. It instantly made me think about the ten months of long-distance which followed, the hard times, the good memories and how our relationship grew from that time. This is actually my second successful long-distance relationship so while I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, I think I’ve learned a bit about how they work.
Make A Commitment
Obviously if you’re even considering continuing your relationship while you’re travelling or moving for work, you are pretty serious about it. But… sometimes you have to verbalise that commitment to your boyfriend or girlfriend beyond the standard phrase of ‘ah sure, we’ll give it a go.’ Sometimes what works well is putting a timeframe on your return to them or their move to join you or, for longer periods of separation, a time-frame to see if the relationship is still working after six months.
Don’t Listen To The Naysayers
Announce to the world that you’re in a long-distance relationship, and you’re opening yourself up to a range of comments from the supportive, normally from people in long-distance relationships themselves, to the pessimistic comments about how they never work. Listening to the negative comments will make you question whether your own relationship will survive. Doubting whether your relationship will work out is a very good way to ensure it won’t work out.
It’ll Either Work Out Or It Won’t
Confusing, I know. A long distance relationship is either going to work or not work, depending on the dynamics of your relationship, the circumstances you are in, the personalities involved, the ability to communicate and whether you’re willing to work on it. Basically, there are too many individual factors to even predict whether someone’s relationship will be able to survive the stress of maintaining it from a distance.
Of course, couples will break up because of the long distance is too difficult for them. Some couples will become closer because they have had to improve their communication skills. You simply will never know until you try it, and pre-empting a break-up before your departure may close you off to new experiences and opportunities for your relationship to grow.
Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise…
You have to focus on what’s best and works for your relationship, and you’ll have to accept very few people will genuinely understand it. When you move to a new country, you will get comments about how you’re wasting your opportunities to discover new things or you’re just delaying the inevitable. Yes, you will miss out on nights out or the chance to meet new people and that is a decision that you have to make for yourself, much like you have to make similar decisions at home about balancing relationships and friendships. There will be moments when you either feel boring for dumping your friends on a night out to go home to Skype your lover, or you feel guilty knowing that they’re sitting at home waiting for your return at which point you’re too tired to have a proper conversation. It’s difficult to find that balance, and sometimes you will have to prioritise the relationship more than you would if you were in the same country.
Technology Is Your Friend
You will grow sick of technology, spend an absolute fortune on phone credit, curse your Internet connection and Skype for crashing and nearly cry when your phone dies, but you will always light up the moment you get a text or email or see them online.
The best way to ensure you don’t throw your laptop out of the window is to invest in a good laptop and a smart phone. Install Skype on your laptop and Whatsapp on your smartphone so you can keep in contact as cheaply as possible. The long-distance calls and texts really add up after a while so look for special offers from your phone provider or buy international call cards for special rates.
Of course, you can also use technology to add some intimacy to your long distance love life. The small things like a good morning email or a quick text during the day can really help keep the relationship working, and emails with photos from your week can help the other person understand what your new life is like.
Visit each other!
Of course, the most important thing is to visit each other. You will count down months, weeks, days and hours until you can see them again, and then count down the amount of time until you go back to your normal life. It will depend on how far away you are from each other, holidays and travel budget, but the best thing to do is to find out when your available travels times are, and start looking for reduced travel fares. It can also be fun to go travelling together instead of going to the other person’s country. If you’re collecting your boyfriend or girlfriend in the airport, a welcome home sign or a bunch of flowers is a nice touch, and of course, the romantic kiss and giant hug.
Stop Thinking So Much…
The best advice I have from 10 months of long-distance is to just go with the flow. It can be very easy to over-analyse a couple of days of talking but not really talking or misconstrue a comment into an argument, but being able to take a deep breath can prevent these from escalating. Like your regular relationship, just take each day as it comes. Remember the reason you’re in this relationship is because you love that person very much and want to be with them, regardless of the annoyances of long distance.
Are any of my readers in long-distance relationships? Is there anything I missed out on?
*All images taken from Pinterest