“Oceans apart day after dayAnd I slowly go insaneI hear your voice on the lineBut it doesn’t stop the painIf I see you next to neverHow can we say foreverWherever you goWhatever you doI will be right here waiting for youWhatever it takesOr how my heart breaksI will be right here waiting for you”Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting For You
There is something soul-stirring about this song. The pain of being apart, the agony of not being able to see her, and the torture of waiting for his beloved… bring in a sweet melancholy. And that’s how a long distance relationship is — together but apart, happy yet unhappy. It is intense with pain and love.
How does a long distance relationship work? How do the partners manage to remain strong without the physical presence? Long distance relationships work if there are love and trust, and the heart to make it work.
MomJunction tells you about such relationships, the problems you might face and the ways you can circumvent the problems to keep the bond alive.
What Is A Long Distance Relationship? Sponsored
A long distance relationship is a relationship between partners who are physically or geographically separated due to reasons such as career choice, education or call of the duty (such as the military).
As per the 2005 data (1), more than 3.5 million married people or 2.9% of the married population in the US are in long distance relationships (LDR). So, you are not alone there if you are in an LDR.
And, it is not easy to make your LDR work.
Problems In A Long Distance Relationship
With distance comes a host of problems that can put your relationship to test. It becomes a challenge to sustain when you have these problems:
- Lack of trust: Without trust, your LDR can fail. You begin to wonder if your partner is honest, loyal and committed to you. And there is no way of knowing that when the person is miles apart.
- Misunderstandings: Simple issues can flare up. For instance, when your calls are not answered immediately you tend to get suspicious or feel that you are being ignored, while the reality could be something different. Thus, misunderstandings creep into your relationship. Communication over phones and video calls cannot make up for real communication. Even subtle things can be misinterpreted.
- No physical support: You know he/she is there for you out there, but when you need their shoulder to cry on, look into their eyes to get into their heart or hug and express your love, their absence leaves a void in your life. This might, in some cases, make the partners look for someone else.
- Envy and insecurity: You are jealous of your partner if they go clubbing or hang out with friends. And the jealousy is justified to an extent because you cannot remain cool when you see a picture of your love having fun while you sit in your room and miss them. And then there is always the fear of your partner cheating on you or spending more time than required with friends from the opposite sex. The fear translates into insecurities.
- Fights lead to bitterness: Fights are there in any relationship, but in an LDR after every fight, there is this constant need to justify each other to prove yourself right and that can leave a certain amount of bitterness.
- Sex life? Where is it? You keep craving for physical intimacy with your partner. It need not be sex alone, even if you want to hold hands or simply hug, you don’t have your partner around. The lack of physical intimacy could lead to promiscuity.
- Fear of infidelity: As said earlier, the lack of physical intimacy could make the partners seek emotional or physical love outside of their relationship.
- Running out of conversations: It’s so easy to slip into boredom in LDRs in the absence of lively conversations. How long can you update each other about your regular routines, over a phone?
- Ambiguity about future: There’s perpetual ambiguity in your relationship status. The uncertainty in your relationship leaves you unsettled and affects the other areas of your life.
- Drift apart: Once the partners get used to leading separate lives, then that becomes their routine and might gradually develop a gap in the relationship.
- Neglect other relationships: On the contrary, you might get so obsessed about your partner that you ignore other relationships. You might begin to neglect your friends, children, and the extended family.
- Anxiety in the relationship: There’s an underlying anxiety over several factors such as your partner crossing the boundaries, cheating on you, not being able to stick to the frequency of visits and so on.
- Depression seeps in: An LDR can suck. The constant absence of your partner will make you feel depressed. It might push you into an abyss, from where coming back might be difficult. Your sole purpose in life would be to be with your partner.
Whether a long distance relationship becomes a problem or an advantage depends on your approach towards it. Nurture it, it will grow; neglect it, it will wither.
- Loneliness kills: You do not have the most important person with whom you would love to share your success, fears, or daily dose of laughs. You feel lonely when you see couples going arm-in-arm and enjoying the warmth of each other. And you do not have your partner to share the little cute things your kids might say or do.
- Costly to maintain: Financially, the relationship becomes burdensome. Whether it is surprise visits, vacations or gifts, all of them can prove to be expensive and go above your budget.
A long distance relationship can be torture. You can’t simply sweep your feelings under the carpet, and ignore them. Sleeping alone on your bed might only result in sleepless nights, and make you wonder if all the pain is really worth it.
Do Long Distance Relationships Work?
- Yes, a long distance relationship does work, provided the partners make a conscious effort to make it work.
- Ask yourself why you want to be in this relationship. The reason needs to be good and strong enough for you to make an effort.
- The partners need to understand and accept the reason behind the LDR. Your spouse could be away from you for a genuine reason — to pursue higher education, to better their career, or due to call of duty.
- Instead of feeling lonely at home, you can pursue your education, a career or a hobby.
- Do not miss your partner, instead be active socially, meet up with friends, go for family get-togethers, and keep yourself busy.
- Don’t let your relationship die a slow death with boring routines. Keep it alive by being romantic and funny. Keep sending love messages or naughty pictures and videos.
- Above all, have a positive outlook.
You might hate your long distance relationship, at times. But you still love and trust each other, and that’s the silver lining! It means LDRs have a bright side too.
Advantages Of Long Distance Relationships
Long distance relationship needs you to work hard. But, the hard work and effort you put in can reap great benefits in the long run. Here’s how it can enhance your relationship:
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder: It may sound clichéd, but absence can make you love your spouse more. Those texts at late nights from your loved one give you a high like never before. Probably you wouldn’t feel the same way if you are living together.
- Communication becomes stronger: The focus in an LDR is solely on communication. It helps you convey your emotions and feelings, thus strengthening your relationship. And any small communication, even if it’s a silly text, becomes precious.
- You can have the best of both worlds: How often have you longed to do what you like doing, but had to compromise because you had to accommodate your partner’s interests? Well, now is the perfect time to watch ‘FRIENDS’ without any battles, laze on the couch without having to cook and shop without being pestered. And when your partner is around, spend some amazing time with them.
- Makes you strong as a person and great as a couple: When you are single you fix the lights, change the flat tires, cook your dinner and do other zillion things all alone. It makes you strong and independent. Living separately pushes you out of your comfort zone, and you become responsible and learn skills necessary for survival. It also helps you bond with your partner’s family. It strengthens your relationship with them and earns your husband’s admiration too.
Whether the relationship becomes a problem or an advantage depends on your approach towards it. Nurture it, it will benefit you; neglect it, it will wither.
How To Maintain A Long Distance Relationship?
The physical gap can be difficult to bridge for the simple reason that you just don’t know what your partner is doing out there. So, how do you navigate through the several miles to keep your relationship thick and strong? Here are a few tips that can help you do that:
Communication is the lifeline to your relationship. Send texts, pictures, and leave messages on the answering machine. Communicate every day. Don’t wait for the end of the day or weekends to talk to each other.
- Set some protocols for communication. Discuss how you want to connect, at what time and for how long. This can save you a lot of trouble. In the absence of protocols, you might initially talk for long hours, but gradually those lengthy conversations give way to short and crisp updates. This could result in resentment.
- Make talking a priority. No matter how busy you are during the day, make sure you connect with your partner as per your protocol.
- Mere texting and calling are not enough, schedule video calls at least twice in a week. You need to see each other and share the warmth and love.
- Communicate your needs. Don’t assume that you would be troubling your spouse by voicing your needs. You need to share your concerns so that they can be addressed immediately.
- Be open and transparent in your communication. You might have the urge to put up your best face always to keep your partner happy. You would avoid saying anything that could lead to unpleasantness. But don’t do that. Be your usual self and let your spouse know your state of mind. Keep it real instead of trying to achieve an ideal relationship.
2. Know and understand your partner:
Know your partner’s likes and dislikes, their preferences and their thought process. It will help you judge them less and understand more.
3. Invest double the time and effort:
When you are apart, you need to work on it double the time and put in extra effort for the obvious reason that you both are not together. So, your foundation has to be strong to sustain the relationship.
4. Rules and boundaries:
Having rules and boundaries in place can set you up for a great relationship. Make it mandatory to update each other on what’s happening in your life and stick to scheduled visits. Most importantly avoid people or situations where you feel tempted to cheat. Know your limits and stay within them.
5. Have relationship goals:
Any relationship needs to have goals, and so does an LDR. You have to grow in your relationship emotionally. Don’t let the physical distance affect your emotional proximity.
6. Don’t disagree over text messages:
Text messages leave room for misinterpretation and misunderstandings. Let the issues wait till you can discuss them on a call or in person.
7. Be honest:
It’s a given that you have to be honest in any relationship. It becomes even more essential in an LDR, as partners tend to get suspicious and insecure. Share your dreams, fears, interests, and every minute detail happening in your life. It makes your relationship strong.
8. Write once in a while:
Yes, even in this era of instant messaging, writing a letter still has its value. Put your feelings and thoughts on a paper and post it; send an email to your partner. It can give you time to reflect and express yourself better. And the best thing is you can preserve those letters as great memories.
9. Live your relationship:
You can make a long distance relationship interesting by doing something special. Plan a holiday at a place where it’s at mid-distance for both of you. The feeling of meeting on a different land can be thrilling. Call on your partner without intimation and give them a surprise. Send a gift or flowers without any reason. Watch the same movies and discuss them, read to each other, or dedicate songs on air. This will be reassuring to your partner.
10. Have a deadline:
This is crucial to sustain a long distance relationship. Target at a deadline by which both of you will be back together. Take each day at a moment and be happy that the days to get back together are drawing closer.
11. Have realistic expectations:
Share your expectations with each other and let them be realistic. If you are living in different time zones, don’t expect your partner to stay up and talk to you in the middle of the night. Limit your conversations and understand each other’s needs.
12. Maintain a diary:
Revive your diary writing habit and make a journal of everyday moments. It would be wonderful to read the journal once the both of you are together forever.
13. Have a perspective:
Remind yourself why you are making the sacrifice. If it’s for a greater cause, then both of you need to be on the same page. Look at the bigger picture and see the genuine purpose in staying apart. That can help you face the rough tides.
14. Live life:
Life is too short to waste on grieving about what you don’t have. Instead be happy about what you have. Distance cannot stop you from celebrating life. Celebrate the little moments and big days in your life.
15. Don’t expect a perfect visit every time:
Some visits will be fun, some will be loaded with anger, while some others will have to be shared with family and friends. That’s how it’s going to be in reality. Accept the fact and make the most of it instead of sulking and getting angry.
16. Keep your emotions in check:
Little things can become a mammoth in an LDR. Don’t view them under a microscope and flare them up. Control your emotions, have a positive outlook and take one day at a time.
17. Exchange your physical stuff:
It works like magic. For instance, ask your spouse to send his shirt that smells of him and cuddle it while you sleep. It might make you miss him more, but it also gives you a warm feeling and soothes you to a nice slumber dreaming about him. You can give him your sweatshirt with your perfume sprayed on it.
18 Keep sending pictures:
Your spouse would love to see you every day, so keep sending those pictures before you leave to work and before you hit the sack. Don’t go overboard by sending selfies every hour. It might backfire.
19. Play online games:
You needn’t be together to play games. Sign up for word games and board games. Virtual presence cannot make up for the physical presence but it sure keeps you connected.
20. Don’t play power games:
You are in the relationship because you need each other, so don’t play power games over who is calling more often, who is texting more, or who is caring for the other person more. You must do what you have to do.
21. Don’t let people’s opinions affect your state of mind:
People have opinions about everything and everyone. Don’t let their opinions affect you. Your love and respect for each other should matter over anyone else’s opinion.
The bottom line is you need to go that extra mile in a long distance relationship to make it work. It requires effort, love, trust and most importantly a positive outlook. “When it’s raining look for the rainbow, when it’s dark look for the stars!”
So, take the plunge and make it work! And if you are already in an LDR we hope our tips will help you rock in your relationship.
Have an experience or tips to share? Leave them in the comment section.
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