Does absence make the heart grow fonder or does absence make the heart start to wander?
You may have heard dismal statistics on long distance relationships showing long distance love as a doomed endeavor headed for a disastrous falling out when love in proximity knocks the far away lover out of mind.
We took a look at the statistics on long distance relationships as the basis of this article, but quickly threw them out the window because it’s nearly impossible to create a conclusion from a proper sampling. You can ask how many people from a certain group have been in long distance relationships. You can ask how many of those relationships lasted. However, when other factors are added in, it’s impossible to prove that the uncoupling happened because of anything to do with distance being a factor.
Instead of focusing on whether or not long distance relationships do, in fact, last — What the hell do people in successful long distance relationships do to keep the passion alive over the miles?
Whether your love is sitting next to you on the couch or 5,000 miles away in another country, communication is the most vital part of any relationship. In the beginning of a particularly intense romantic connection, you may feel like you are in a long distance relationship with your phone. You talk every single night. Sometimes constantly throughout the day. You text. You FaceTime. You Skype. Snapchat. WhatsApp. Messenger. Talk on the phone. To be perfectly honest, always being attached to your phone can get obnoxious. At first, you started saying, “Be right back. Gotta pee.” Now, you take your phone into the restroom with you. After a while, you start feeling too connected to your phone and communication starts to drift off.
On the other hand, a communication void starts to cause all kinds of problems a couple who live close to each other may not have. The distance feels most apparent when the two of you are off doing other things in your normal, daily lives. You may find yourself pausing many times throughout the day to think, “What is he doing, right now, at this very moment?” Then your mind starts to wander…and sometimes it goes to some pretty dark places. This is part of the beast that is long distance dating.
Too much communication can be bothersome and make someone feel leashed to technology when they are longing to live life. Too little means one or both of you may start living in your heads, going crazy, wondering what the other is doing, who they are with, etc.
Be respectful of each other’s real life time. Realize that work, school and responsibilities of daily life are most important. All these things are means to an end.
If he keeps up good work performance, maybe he can get that transfer to her town.
If she finishes school and gets her degree, they can finally be together.
Don’t interfere with your partner’s daily life. You are part of their reality, but these other things are their focus right now, so in the end, they get to be with you. Communicate respectfully, openly, but realize their life needs focus, too.
Live in each other’s environments
You come back home after a night out with your mates to call your love and she’s steaming mad because you were gone too long and she doesn’t know who you were with. Even when you tell her, she begins to doubt you. The distance begins to take a toll. You may begin thinking, “If she only knew me…Really knew me. She would see how painfully boring I am.”
These kinds of misunderstandings can happen for many reasons. You’ve got to make sure you communicate with your partner the same as you would if they lived nearby. Be transparent. Tell them where you are going and with whom and don’t lie about it. Make sure you let them know they are the only one for you and that you will be thinking about them the whole time. But also have fun! You can’t get caught up in pining for a long distance love to the point where you stop living.
The key is to make sure you get regular visits with your love in your home environment. As many as possible. They need to come to your space and see how you live. You need to go to where they live and do the same. They need to experience some of your daily routine so they can see who you are and how they add a piece to the puzzle of your life. Let them see the real you. Even if it’s the you who leaves dirty dishes in the sink or the you who has all the books on your shelf alphabetized by author and title.
Trust begins to be built by seeing one in their environment and getting used to the humdrum of their daily life. If they are at your house and your phone is not ringing off the hook with other potential dates and they see the simple life you lead, it will be easier for your partner to calm their jealous anxiety and go about their daily life, too.
Give Physical Reminders of You
A sweatshirt soaked in your cologne, a bottle of your perfume so he can make his pillow smell like you, jewelry that conveys your promise, flowers sent as a surprise, a pine-scented candle to burn that reminds you of the time you went hiking together, when you are talking to him and he mentions how hungry he is and how good pizza sounds, have one sent to his house. All the modern technology just means you have the potential to be an amazing long distance partner from wherever you are, now. Whenever you leave your partner after a physical visit, leave them something behind that makes you feel closer to them.
Don’t expect the world to stop for your romance
The real pushback you may be getting about this relationship is from your friends, your parents, your co-workers, your classmates, etc. You may be telling them all about this wonderful person you met and they say they are really happy with you…Until you tell them she lives in China and you are in Montana. Then, they look at you like you are crazy and start telling you how many beautiful women there are near you.
It’s okay because they don’t get it. Not everyone will. In fact, some will be downright unsupportive of your romance so sometimes it’s best to keep it quiet until things become very serious.
Also, keep things respectful with them. When you are out with your friends, they are going to be annoyed if you spend the whole night texting your girlfriend or on the phone with her. When it gets to the point you are ready to introduce your long distance love to your friends, do so carefully. Don’t make your friends hate you by putting them on the back-burner for your romance or not being present when with them.
Also, make sure you are present in all you do in your everyday life. Do not let your work or schoolwork slip because your long distance communications get out of control.
Whatever you do, don’t get passive aggressive and keep it positive
If he doesn’t text at the time he was supposed to, don’t ignore him when he does text in retaliation. If she doesn’t call you back in 15 minutes like she promised, don’t be mad when she calls you back two hours later. Stuff happens. Relying on technology is hard. Expecting everyday life to revolve around your daily phone call is unrealistic. Don’t play the game of who called who last. Just do it. Just call. Don’t worry about who cares more than who. The quickest way to kill a long distance romance is to play these kinds of games and then say things like, “Oh. I thought you didn’t care anymore” or “Just figured you’d forgotten me.”
Making a long distance relationship go the long haul is hard enough, but if your partner begins to associate you with feelings of guilt, they will start disassociating with you and leaning towards things which make them happy.
Hearing from you must be a joy, not a burden. If every time they get off the phone, they feel relief. If every conversation with you is negative or makes them feel worse than they did before talking with you, they will begin to drift away from you.
Make plans to be together…Permanently
This is one thing that must be said for long distance relationships. They only work if you both look at it as a temporary obstruction to your love. If your attitude is more “Let’s see if this works out…” Chances are, it may not.
Long distance relationships work because two people were very committed to the relationship’s success. Part of that success is making plans for how the two of you can actually be together and will accept the sometimes-painful realities that come with making the jump towards living near each other.
It’s going to mean someone may have to leave a job they love, move from a place they love, give up their friends, their family and everything they ever knew to start a life with the other person.
At the beginning of the relationship, when infatuation is in full force, you truly believe time nor distance will come between you. Thinking about these realities is way too hard and sometimes the very process of uprooting your life can seem daunting and impossible. It can be done, but must be done with a back-up plan in mind.
Sometimes things don’t work out and you can find yourself stuck in the new locale with nobody on your side and no friends to lean on. Life is a learning experience, though, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge if you know this person is someone you can’t stand not being without anymore. Be cautious, be wise, and then take that step and be brave. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve gotten to see more of the world and have new experiences to add to the amazing story of your life.