Long Distance Relationships are normal and quite frankly, they always have been. Throughout the ages, militants, star crossed lovers, political authorities and even celebrities have had to partake in the drama that is a long distance love story.
Yet, in recent years, its become more and more common for people to maintain closer relationships with people, rather than far away ones. And while LDRs have been popping up for millennia, today’s ‘in your face’ society only accepts LDRs of the rich, famous and well-to-do because obviously their high profile careers give them an acceptable excuse to do so.
It’s no surprise then that when it comes time for us to dish the dirty truth about our less than average relationships, we’re often met with raised eyebrows, crossed eyes and seriously negative reactions.
Its tough dealing with so much negativity and confusion, when to you, your relationship is the best thing in the world! It can even be a complete shock. How could anyone not see how amazing it is that you can love from a distance?! And why would anyone care about it in the first place?
Then comes all the awkward, inappropriate and personally invasive questions: “How do you know she’s not cheating on you RIGHT NOW? How can you really love someone you only met online? A relationship where you can’t even hold hands? How is that a REAL relationship?” How rude!
As unfair as it may seem, the responsibility really lies on each and every one of us to know how to explain our long distance relationships well to people who really just don’t get it.
The way you respond, explain and share information about your LDR affects every single one of us in the long term. A well delivered explanation can go far in preventing that same person from reacting about another person’s LDR the way they may have reacted to yours. So, how can you do that?
1. Realize that you’re going to get rude, weird and inappropriate questions and accept that you’re going to have to start expecting them.
I’m not sure what it is about LDRs that causes people to loose all form of tact, but the reality is that the idea of dating someone across the world (or country) is SO FOREIGN to some people, that it really knocks the wind out of them.
Expecting to get questions that may make you uncomfortable, upset or offended will help you to not be quite as surprised by them when they do arise. Then, when you get those off-the-wall questions, you’ll be less angry, less upset, less hurt or offended and you can answer them well without lashing out, snapping back or saying something you’ll later regret.
2. Be prepared to avoid questions that you don’t want to answer.
Knowing and expecting that you’ll get some strange questions is a big help, but it’s also important to single out some questions that you would not want to answer. Remember, you choose what you wish to share about your relationship. You should never feel pressured to answer questions that make you uncomfortable, regardless of who is asking them.
If a question comes up and you feel the pressure to answer, it helps to have a handy arsenal of standard, vague responses that you can say without giving out information you don’t want to share. So have a little chat with yourself and decide definitively what it is you are and are not comfortable sharing about your relationship -knowing those things up front will definitely help you to stand your ground and not regret sharing something you never meant to share later.
3. Come up with a quick 30-60 second summary of your relationship, that you can rattle off to anyone, almost without thinking.
Relationships, for some, are a safe topic to wander onto when engaging in casual conversation. A simple “Are you seeing anyone?” asked between two workmates, classmates or friends is usually okay for those who are in traditional relationships. But for those of us in online or long distance relationships, it can cause a small measure of panic just because our relationships are so very unique.
Suddenly a question that isn’t invasive starts to feel that way, all because we aren’t comfortable or prepared to answer it. Our response, no matter how short, is often met with the inevitable “How did you meet?” and many other questions may follow. Questions we may not be ready, or even comfortable answering. So what can you do?
Prepare a short “pitch” on your relationship ahead of time. It should answer all the questions you commonly receive as well as any questions you think may pop up from others. This way, you’ll never be caught off guard and always ready to state your case about your relationship and how much it means to you. Here are some questions you may consider creating responses to:
How did you and your s/o meet?
“Are you ready for a cool story? I’m convinced that me and my s/o have the coolest love story ever. I’m actually thinking about turning it into a book when we have kids later because, to me, it’s like a little modern day fairytale. We actually met…”
What does your s/o do for a living?
Have you guys met?
You can’t get him/her to move here for you?
“It’s not that I can’t get them to move here, it’s more like we both have goals we want to pursue and we love each other so much that there’s no way we’d ask each other to give those goals up. But thankfully, we do have a goal we’re working towards together – a date when we’ll stop all of this and finally be together and that’s something we work towards a little bit everyday together!”
How often do you see each other?
How do you stay in touch?
When do you plan on seeing them again?
“Haven’t you heard? Long distance relationships never work out.”
“Lots of people think that, but you’d be surprised at how many people out there are actually in LDRs! There’s an entire LDR community out there full of hundreds of thousands couples who are battling distance. In fact, I get a lot of tips on maintaining my relationship from many of them. Did you know that lots of military couples are in long distance relationships? Tons of those work out perfectly fine!”
Is it hard to be in a long distance relationship?
Have you always been long distance?
Can I see a picture of him/her?
“How do you know your s/o isn’t cheating on you?”
“Most people think that being in an LDR means that someone is more likely to cheat on you, but actually I’ve looked into it and research shows that the percentage of persons who cheat while in a long distance relationship is no higher than those who cheat in normal relationships. People can and do cheat in any relationship, whether they live in the same town or the same house. A relationship where no one cheats is a relationship where both persons value each other and distance has nothing to do with that.”
Having this information ready in your mind is great for showing that you have confidence in a type of relationship that many people already do not take seriously. It shows that you know where you stand, that you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into your relationship and where it’s headed. And in the end, having all of that prepared will hopefully earn you the respect of the inquirer.
4. Realize that most people aren’t trying to be rude. They just want you to be safe and okay.
For the most part, people wish the best for others. So if a stranger, a friend or someone else that you know comes to you about your relationship with rude or negative thoughts; learn to look past what looks like blunt rudeness and see beyond that. Even strangers can have a sense of worry over people they’ve just met, especially if in their eyes a situation doesn’t seem safe or ideal based on what they’ve learned in life.
I’m not saying that malicious attempts to ruin your confidence in your relationship wont happen, because they do all the time. But if you can tell that the person you’re talking to isn’t trying to be malicious, but just is concerned and doesn’t understand, it’s okay to take the time out to explain yourself a little more if you wish and help them to realize that while it may be different, your relationship is stable and is nothing to be worried or afraid of.
5. Change The Tone of the conversation and share something nice, happy, uplifting about your relationship or others’.
Sometimes, no matter how poised we are in our explanation about LDRs, you may still have that one person who can’t stop sneering at you, looking down at how odd you are. It’s time to whip out the secret weapon!
Positivity is a strong force that can really change the tone of something negative. So, share so positive happy moments about youre relationship: maybe a funny story, a recent visit, a hilarious mishap. Something that says “my relationship is not only real, it also brings me so much joy and is a lot of fun.
And if personal stories like that aren’t something you want to share, you can always share the success stories of others. Why not share a LDR success story with a critic and see how surprised they are that it did in fact all work out in the end! Who knows, maybe after following all of these tips and hearing about how positive LDRs are, their opinion towards LDRs may change once and for all!