You're a thousand miles apart but committed to giving it a shot. Give yourselves the best chance possible at making it work by following these tested long distance tips.
By Sydney Pendle
So you have decided to be in a LDR (long distance relationship)? It's not an uncommon thing these days. What with the advent of Internet dating and unlimited texting plans, LDRs seem to be all the rage. They can, however, become one of the biggest challenges in your life.
It's a strange thing that happens. One minute it seems that the bonds of love are so strong that no amount of distance or time could ever separate you, then a week later you are ignoring her texts and blocking her on Facebook.
However, if she is the one you love, there is nothing stopping you from making the best of it and being with her one day. You do need to be ready to take on the challenges that are faced in every LDR.
Here are a few things that you should be mindful of while trying to be a trans-continental gentleman.
Good relationships are built on a foundation of communication and the exchange of candid feelings and love. This statement holds even truer for a long distance relationship. For both parties involved, there is nothing more painful than poor communication. You can do many things to strengthen your communication such as making small brief calls to let her know you love her, leaving small messages for her on the social networking site of your choosing, or sending a text message to her phone for when she wakes up that says something like “I love you, have an awesome day.” Remember: keep the balance of quality and quantity even.
Try using as many different forms of communication as possible. In today's day of technology, we have been gifted with the advent of video chatting. Gentlemen please heed my words and use this to your advantage. Video chatting does an insurmountable amount of good for an LDR. It is the closest thing you will be able to get in terms of personal contact. Face to face conversation is one of the fundamentals of building a solid relationship. Being able to see the expression on their face when you say “I love you,” or even better, when they say it back, is phenomenally better than just hearing it over the phone. Go through a quality service like Skype for this. Having a grainy image or poor sound quality is on par with a phone call.
Be an endless fountain of romantic gesture, but consider turning it down at points. If your long distance lover sees a constant barrage of “I love you's” and nothing else it will have a tendency to not mean much to them. This can also lead to a painful feeling of loneliness because you aren't there to show her how much it is you love her.
Pretend that she is standing in front of you. It would be incredibly awkward if you said “I love you” every 5 minutes for 2 weeks straight. Keeping that in mind, the same rules apply here. One decision that is out of your control is how she feels about you. Despite the litany of terrible emo songs that sport the lyrics “I am going to make you love me,” there is no way to do that. She has to be the one to give you the green light on love, and 1000 text messages that say that is intrusive and unnecessary. She is like a rose bush that needs to be watered, but if you drown her, then it's done.
Be aware that being a trans-continental gentleman means you can respect personal space and trust your girlfriend to be faithful to you (provided you made that clear that you want that). It can be so hard as a man to put your full trust in a woman who lives hundreds or thousands of miles away, but you have to. If you can't trust her when you're far away, then you are putting up red flags that you are too controlling or not supportive.
When in a long distance situation, talking is much of the relationship, so naturally what you talk about has a big impact on things. Say the right things and avoid talking too much about bad or awkward subjects like Ex's, depression, or how much you miss them or wish you could be with them. These subjects usually aren't immediate conversation killers, but if discussed in too much detail, it could just make things worse. When talking about negative things, try to only use them as a way to compare her and make her know why it is you appreciate and love them (e.g. “You melt away my anxiety.”)
One thing that will make or break an LDR is the amount of directness and clarity you use when you communicate. Avoid statements of ambiguity. Do not be passive aggressive. Do not shroud how you feel in quippy one-liners on Facebook. Remember that a supple and relevant LDR is built on a foundation of communication. If your communication is weak, then so is your relationship.
Forging Real Bonds
Because there is little contact (if any) in an LDR, try to find ways to make your significant other feel a little closer to you. There are a few things that I have found that work miracles.
Take inventory of her favorite clothes that you wear. If there is a favorite sweatshirt or hoodie she particularly likes, make a note of it and consider wearing it one day and making it smell like you (smell…not stink). Add some of your cologne to it and send it to her. Smells are incredibly strong to the longing lover. This will give her a small piece of you that reminds her that you are very real and not just a jumble of messages and video chats.
Get to know them better through a nifty little trick. Both you and her buy a spiral bound notebook and write, draw, do whatever you want in it and send them to each other. It will allow you to get to know all the things they think are important about themselves and you will get to do the same for her. This journal is also a great way to communicate things you have a hard time saying out loud. The most deep and intimate things that you just cant say over video or the phone can come out in this journal and serve as a way to build trust and understanding.
It would also be a good idea to maybe consider also including that old USB drive and adding pictures, music, and video.
Learning About Her and Supporting Her
Learn about her life. Get to know her friends and family. Help them build a support structure until you can be there. Learn about her schedule. Write it down and put it in your wallet if you have to. Ask her about specific things.
Making Visits a Priority
Obviously when all this just doesn't seem like enough, remember that the $250 you spent on video games and red-bull last month could have gone to a plane ticket to go and see her for a week.
Always be Planning
The worst thing you can do in an LDR is leave it open-ended. Either be committed to making solid plans to be together, or do not let the relationship get serious. You cannot have both. It is a waste of time to just say, “We will be together one day.” Put a date on that day and stick with it. Make plans to move to where they are or vice versa or a mutually new location. Be committed to this. If you can't make that true commitment, then abandon ship. It is going to hurt both of you way too much when it all comes crashing down in the end.
Remember to always be planning for the future. Be realistic. Do not make expectations high and claim that no problems will arise, but do not be a prophet of doom. Just be realistic and open with them and remember to always, always, always stick to that date. Do not push it back or put uncertainties around it. Be entirely committed or do not make a date.
Know When To Quit
One of the hardest things to know about being in an LDR is when you can feel it failing. Other relationships that have similar feelings can be remedied through interpersonal contact, but when you don't have that, it's difficult to change things. The worst thing you can do is stay in a relationship that both parties are hurting from. Sometimes there is nothing that can be said or done. It's at these points that it is time to say goodbye and part on the best terms possible.
And who knows…
Your relationship can be the greatest in the world, but you are going to have to work for it. It's not going to be a walk in the park, but if you play your cards right, it will be a walk right to her heart. (See what I did there?)
Sydney Pendle is an up and coming blogger from Seattle. Check out more of Sydney’s writing at his blog bymennon.com.