Hi there! So, let’s get something out of the way before we begin: Do we know what we’re talking about when it comes to an LDR Relationship?
In one word: Yes! We’re Glenna and Patrick, and we’ve both experienced LDR Relationships—in college and beyond.
We have both dealt with LDR Relationship failure. But now we are living proof that healthy LDR relationships are possible with a clear set of guidelines to operate by.
One of us has closed the gap, while the other has been functioning for over two years at 5+ hours apart.
We’ve put our heads together for this article in the hopes that our combined experience will help other couples figure out how to make their LDR Relationship work.
So here are the five key factors that we think will make or break any LDR relationship.
Tip 1: Intentional Trust
There comes a point in every relationship where you need to make the decision to start fully trusting your partner. This is always a scary step, even when you see each other all the time. You may have built up rapport with this person over time, or just intuitively feel that this person is worth your effort.
However, when you’re in a LDR relationship, trusting your partner can feel even scarier. It can be harder to gauge who your partner really is, how committed they are to you, and who they’re spending time with. On top of that,
there will be times when your LDR relationship gets extremely tough. You’ll both question what you are doing, and you’ll want to quit.
To really trust your partner in a LDR relationship, you first need to trust yourself. When you trust your instincts and your personal commitment to the relationship, you can have more trust and confidence in your partner. And when you trust your partner you trust that they are committed to you in the same way that you are to them. You trust their goodwill, and you strive to give them the benefit of the doubt when things feel confusing, hard, or hurtful. You trust that this relationship is something special, and worth working hard for.
This is the sort of intentional trust that will help keep the LDR relationship going.
Tip 2: Put Yourself Out There
Get ready to get uncomfortable! No, we’re not instructing you to change everything about yourself to be with this person—you both already did fall for each other, after all. We’re simply encouraging you to put some effort into learning what your partner needs, and stretching to meet those needs.
Let’s say you and your new boyfriend are a few time zones apart. You may be exhausted on your way home from work at 6 p.m., but your partner is just minutes away from calling it a night. You need to bust out of your comfort zone and call your S.O. right then and there. It’s easy to delay calling him when you just want to relax or run errands before chatting. But if you do that too often, it sends signals that you’re prioritizing yourself over the relationship. This is a recipe for disaster.
Bottom line: Practice focusing on what your partner needs to feel comfortable, and be flexible. This will mean that you sometimes put yourself out to connect with your partner or support them in other ways.
Tip 3: Real Talk About Timelines
When you decide you want this LDR relationship to work, it’s time to be open and honest about your future plans, hopes, and expectations. It’s unfair to mislead someone, so be truthful from the start on your intentions. If the relationship grows more serious, then a likely mutual goal is to close the gap and/or get married. If that’s not an option for one of you, it’s better to find that out sooner rather than later so you don’t waste each other’s time.
Talking about these sorts of things can be nerve wracking! However, if you want the possibility of long term success, set the stage properly from the beginning. Talk about these things fairly early on (maybe not in the first couple of weeks of your relationship, but certainly before you’ve been in a LDR relationship for a year or more). So, be brave.
Know what you want to communicate and what questions you want to ask. And be prepared to answer their questions.
Talking these issues over was critical to the success of my (Patrick’s) LDR relationship. Being upfront about wanting to move and expressing desire for them to join me, turned out to be what my S.O. and I needed. We set goals, communicated well during the transitions, and later closed the gap.
Tip 4: Sacrifice to Compromise
Getting into any worthwhile relationship means some level of sacrifice. You will put time and energy into one relationship at the expense of meeting other people and spending time with other friends and family. In a LDR relationship, however, you will likely need to make more sacrifices and more compromises than normal. You will both have to give and take if your long distance relationship is going to work.
The time you make to talk to each other within your busy schedules? Having to skip dinner with your friends in order to FaceTime your lover? Skipping a weekend trip with the boys or gals in order to meet your partner’s parents?
These are all, on some level, sacrifices and compromises you make for the sake of your partner and the health of your LDR relationship. Applaud yourself when you do these things. It’s no easy feat putting someone else ahead of our own wants and needs.
Tip 5: Walk in Their Shoes
This one is simple (sarcasm). Learning what makes your partner tick is a key ingredient to any successful relationship. It’s often not easy to do in person, and can be even more difficult in a LDR relationship. Chances are (and especially in the beginning) you both will have different perspectives on any given situation. So frequently take the time to pause and ask yourself what your partner’s point of view is. This has all sorts of benefits. You will get to know them better, reduce misunderstandings and conflict, and build trust and mutual respect.
Here’s an example when one of us didn’t do this:
I was at a party that involved a stripper, and I thought it would be hilarious to keep snapchatting pics to my SO. I thought they’d see the humor, too. Even when they said, “Please, stop sending these to me”, I took it as sarcasm and continued to send saucy pictures along. As you might have guessed, I was not in good graces with my lover the next day. Since then, I always take a moment to sit and wonder, “How might this be making them feel? Would I be bothered by this, if the roles were reversed?”
There will be moments you are not going to agree with your partner’s reaction or mood (or even understand it). In these instances, you need to remind yourself to take a step back to view it from their angle. If you know their needs and have good communication habits in place, you’ll be quick to realize that something is upsetting them and then you can make a decision about whether to change course.
If you are not willing to embrace these five factors, re-think whether you want to be in a LDR relationship. Confidence, trust, and compromise are essential to the success of any LDR relationship. If you or your partner cannot embrace these factors, then you may be wasting your time, your energy, and your emotions.
On the other hand, if you practice these five essential factors, there’s a great chance that you will be able to overcome insecurities and all the challenges that LDR relationships present. Furthermore, your relationship will be stronger and better than ever because of the time you spend long distance.