Tips to survive long distance relationships 0
When it comes to long distance relationships, experts say you need a plan to make it work. (Fotolia)
Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but long-distance relationships are never a walk in the park.
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of students across Canada moved to other cities to pursue their post-secondary dreams. Some were leaving home for the very first time. And many were leaving behind girlfriends and boyfriends.
Many of these long-distance romances will die a slow and torturous death over the course of a four-year undergraduate degree. For some, the demise will be swift and decisive, such as in the case of the infamous “Turkey Dump” (when students return home for Thanksgiving and break up with their high school sweethearts). Others – a small but sturdy minority — will succeed despite the odds stacked against them.
“The trickiest times were when we had been apart for a long time,” says Rita, a Toronto woman who dated a man who lived in New York State for two-and-a-half years beginning when she was 19.
“It's really hard to be that close to someone and that physically far away from them at the same time. You (have a lot of doubts). When you're together it feels worth it. But then they leave, and you're just in this weird limbo all the time.
“You get really envious of people who can call their boyfriend or girlfriend and say, ‘Hey, I'm not busy tonight, do you want to go watch a movie?’ Because for you, it's like ‘I'm not busy in three weeks, do you want to watch a movie?’”
Relationship coach and matchmaker, Stacie Ikka agrees that this lack of spontaneity and accessibility can take its toll.
“Long-distance relationships typically require more planning and organization,” she says. “As a result of not having immediate and consistent access to each other, loneliness, tension and general insecurity may prevail.”
Ginny and her overseas boyfriend communicated constantly in order to stay emotionally connected to one another.
“We scheduled calls or Skype chats and would email each other little things everyday,” she says. “He worked a really boring desk job and he spent a lot of time emailing jokes with a group of his closest friends. He would share these with me too and I would share fun things I found with him.”
Long-distance relationships are never easy, but they’re not impossible to navigate as long as there’s an end in sight.
Says Ikka, “The most pervasive challenge for a long-distance relationship with legs is where and how the couple may eventually settle and create their life together. Inevitably, this would require sacrifice and compromise on one or both parts.”
Dawn, 29, met her current partner while she was living abroad.
“In order for a long distance thing to work what you really need is a plan,” Dawn says. “A plan for your next visit, a plan for your next year, a plan for your life, in some cases. You have to be working towards something; otherwise, the hopelessness feeling and heartache will consume you.”
And if you don’t have good communication skills and an unwavering commitment to one another, it’s probably not going to work out.
“Long distance relationships – in order to be successful and sustainable – require a significant commitment to open and ongoing communication in order to compensate for the lack of face time,” says Ikka.
Readers' tips to keep the long distance flame burning:
- Always talk every day on the phone no matter what (even if for one minute) it shows that you care how their day was and that you were thinking about each other.
- When we would do a weekend visit, I would try to send something home with him by surprise so that when he got home and unpacked, he would have something there that would remind him of me.
- A few times I made him something that he had to open every day. (I put) one cent candies in baggies to go in his lunch and every day had a different hand-written message as to why I love him.
- As with any relationship you need to truly know one another, have faith and trust in each other and communicate. Constant communication, emails, texts, phone calls and yes, even in this day and age snail mail. A sweet card received in the mailbox is a very sweet compassionate sign that you are thinking of each other.
- If we didn't work on communication when (we were) long distance, (I) don't think we would be where we are.
- Love and money, you need love, and you need money. If you have love and no money, it'll eventually fail at some point.
- If you're going to do long distance, you have to accept it for what it is.
- Live in the moment and don't always look to the day that everything is going to magically work out. Either it is or it isn't and focusing on what could happen only hurts the relationship.
- Meet halfway sometimes. If you live close enough, make a day trip out of it so you're not spending the entire weekend with a visitor.