A long range-, exotic-, distance-, remoteness-, partway- or just long distance relationship, you have them in all sorts of forms and names. They all have one thing in common: not physically being together with the person you want to be together with. Moreover, probably the kind of relationship everyone tries to avoid. After being separated with my girlfriend for the past 6 months, being 6500 km apart and having a 6-hour time difference, I think it is time to share the lessons I have learned from this experience. Why do I think it’s important to share these lessons? Well, everyone who is in a long distance relationship or ever has been, knows goddamn well how though it can be. Therefore, I like to share my tips and tricks, advice and experience in order to make yours maybe a little bit easier. Enjoy reading!
Relationships in general are based on 7 building blocks, according to Psychology Today:
Unfortunately you can forget about the 3rd one. Real life intimacy is not one of the things you can enjoy when being in a long distance relationship.
Moreover, I don’t think the number one is a shocking one, trust is the one thing you have to build on when having a relationship. However, building trust is a time consuming, energy taking process that requires two participants. Building trust is something you should be both committed to in order to make any relationship work. Especially when you want to survive a long distance relationship, it will take some extra commitment and trust.
Back to the question what having a dreadful long distance relationships taught me. (To clarify, the relationship wasn’t dreadful, the long distance was ;) ) What were the lessons I learned?
1. Talk, talk and talk – but also listen.
Communication is the key to having a long distance relationship. And by communication I don’t mean way of communicating or times you communicate. I mean being open and honest when you communicate. I believe that sharing how you feel, what you feel and what you have experienced are some of the most important thing you have to do. Since you will both have separate lives; with separate activities and day-to-day tasks, it is really important to let the other person understand what you are going through and why you are going through it. Talking to each other, to create mutual understanding, is therefore key.
However, there is a big but to talking. Listening is as, if not more, important as talking. You need to find a balance where you are talking and sharing your stories and where you are listening to the other’s stories. The Psychology Today calls that the Equality building block. Having a long distance isn’t one-way traffic, it should be two-way traffic. Take the time to actively listen to your partner and show that you are listening and caring for what they have to say.
2. Don’t avoid having ‘the tough’ conversations
When things aren’t going the way you want them ideally to go, it is easy to try to only have ‘positive’ conversations. It is easy to avoid having the conversations where you share what is annoying you and where you truly open up about how you feel. However, having those conversations is invaluable. Cropping up feelings and thoughts will only make them worse, resulting in moments of rage and full of frustrations and pent-up emotions. Being open and honest, and having the tough conversations, will make you stronger together and avoids lashing out on each other. Don’t hold in what you feel or think! (little side not: try to share what you think in a compassionate way and think of your timing when sharing your frustration or annoyance. I might have picked the wrong timing a few times… Not so nice to do since it is quite egocentric and will give opposite results ;) )
3. Embrace the memories
Sharing memories together is a great way to relive the amazing moments you once had. A nice way to do that is to look back at the conversations you had on Whatsapp and check old pictures. It can be hard to be apart and memories might even fade. Especially when you only had 3 months to create the memories before you both left for your internships, keeping memories can be a changeling thing…! Not being able to remember how a hug or kiss feels like is the worse, I can ensure you. But don’t let it throw you off your game. Trust that you fell in love for a reason and that memories will come back or new ones will be created in the future!
Gotta love themed blind date diners...!
4. Don’t expect everything to be back to what it was straight away
After surviving the period you have been separated, it is extremely easy to expect that nothing will have changed, and that everything will be back to normal once you see each other again. However, these expectations can cause lots of disappointment once reunited. Things will be different and things will have changed. Give each other space to get used to each other again and don’t be afraid it will never comeback, cause love will eventually come around ;)
To conclude, there are many things I learned from the last 6 months. It wasn’t always easy and there were times it was tough. But we were ready for those moments and did not try to avoid them, but faced them head onwards. You have to trust each other and give each other space, to let the other live their life to the fullest. Don’t try to limit your partner’s life and set up rules in order to feel better yourself.
I am curious to hear your long distance relationship stories. Do you agree with my points? Or do you believe it takes more? What are your experiences and what did it teach you? Please share them below!