How do you handle a long-distance relationship?
Let’s be real, long-distance relationships freaking suck. There is absolutely no freaking fathomable reason for any sane person on the entire freaking planet to suffer through a long-distance relationship, except for one: You want to.
But before you think I’m just a single cynical monster who hates puppies, let me just clarify that I actually do have great memories of my own LDRs. Yes, long distance stinks, but the reason to continue the relationship doesn’t: your partner.
This faraway person whom you dig has got to be so incredibly awesome and worth your time and effort that you choose to be a part of this semi-miserable thing with him or her. Not just any basic bitch can make you want this totally not ideal lifestyle, but because this person is such a serious amount of cool, you choose to have this life — one where you constantly account for time changes, pay for the expensive trips to visit and have a single reason to use your Skype account. You go for days, weeks, months or years without even a hug, and you have lots and lots of free alone time. I really don’t mean this sarcastically; I’m just being open and honest about who and what it takes. But hey, distance makes the cuddles grow stronger, so maybe there are two reasons. LDRs are definitely the harder route, but choosing to break up without even trying to make it work can just leave unresolved feelings (as in that “no closure” bullshit that is really just an excuse to high-school-reunion-drunk-hookup later.)
Choosing to be part of an LDR is something that needs to be discussed and agreed upon in advance. Unlike “normal” relationships, long-distance ones require so much more patience, maturity, time, effort and trust to account for inevitable miscommunication and mistakes. You have to be able to trust your partner and yourself to remain committed to your agreement to maintain this thing. Hence, communication is key. Virtual pinky promises are real, so keep them. Take advantage of all the time you have together, and don’t multitask. Forgiveness is deserved if trust is established. Try to remember your partner’s intention rather than the result of his or her actions and give each other the benefit of the doubt, because miscommunications happen. When times get rough, put things into perspective: You’re not the first person to be dealing with this; it’s all totally possible, and you’re not alone.
Organized routines can be effective when accounting for flexibility, but redundancy can be harmful. Daily calls and texts get boring, so learn how to mix it up and ask genuine and interesting questions. Arrange for FaceTime dates; make care packages, snail mail; grow a love fern; sext or what have you. Keep in mind that so much happens when you aren’t there, so having notes and reminders can help you to remember things you want to tell each other. (A lot can happen in a day, and those life-changing chicken strips are worth sharing.)
So here’s my recommendation: Try it. Try it full-fledged and head-on, knowing that it’ll suck. Try it knowing that it’ll be hard. Try it knowing that the odds may be against you and that it might not work — but that it also might. Once you try, you can say that you fought the odds and that you fought the good fight despite how long it lasted. Challenges are fun, and to quote a very smart advice columnist, “Convenience shouldn’t be the determiner of your relationship.” Even if you know you may end up losing, some things are worth fighting for.
Noelle Reyes writes the advice blog. Contact her and ask her for advice at [email protected].