Physical Contact is more important than you think
I don’t mean to state the obvious, but this is the biggest obstacle of being LDR. Long distance = no or limited physical contact. Now, it’s easy to say that you realize this up front but I can honestly say you have no idea of how hard hitting that separation is until you’re smack dab in the middle of it.
Imagine waking up in the dead of night from a sweet dream of you and your partner together. I don’t know, maybe you were on a picnic or on a ferris wheel at the carnival getting your smooch on. It doesn’t matter, it was the greatest dream ever – and so realistic! That is, until you wake up and realize you’re all alone in bed and the space beside you is cold and empty. That’s where your partner should be but they’re not there.
It doesn’t even have to be a dream. It hits you at random sometimes when you’d least expect it. I can recall times when I went shopping and saw a couple and watched the guy put his arm around the girls waist and pulled her close and my brain short circuited a little because where is my warm embrace while shopping for ham and tomatoes? 1,000 miles away of course.
If you are the kind of person who CRAVES physical contact and NEEDS that constant simple reassurance that comes with being touched or held, please be forewarned: with distance you can’t have that instant hug, or that sloppy kiss when you want it. You have to schedule for it 3 or 6 months ahead of time.
Other people will spend a lot of time with your partner while you can’t
Yes you’re in a relationship, but you’re also miles apart. So naturally you’re both going to have separate lives. Your partner is going to spend time away from you –lots of time. He or she will socialize with friends and won’t always be at your beck and call.
It can get insanely frustrating to feel like you’re being ignored or neglected by your partner. In some cases it might even feel like your partner is having more fun without you and that can make you feel jealous. Here’s an important point to remember: there’s no room for clinginess in long distance relationships. After all, what fun will talking to each other be if you spend all your free time together and don’t allow one another to experience life apart?
Time Zones differences can make an already difficult relationship harder
Timezones can either be really easy, or really hard. For some like myself, there’s only a 1 hr time difference between my partner and I but for others timezone separation can be a matter of several hours. Some couples are even 12-14 hours ahead or behind one another. As you can imagine this is pretty difficult obstacle since while one person is awake, the other is asleep.
Timezone differences no matter how great can be overcome (and have been overcome) by the mind boggling ingenuity of some couples –but it literally does take just that. If your LDR has the potential to span not only great distance AND time it would be wise to discuss possible solutions for those obstacles before getting into a relationship of that circumstance.
Technology will be your primary means of communication for a while
Admittedly, it’s great being able to use the internet and the technologies it lends to us to be able to talk to my partner anytime and almost anywhere. It sure does beat the days of sending letters drenched in perfume that were a 5-10 day or longer wait –one way.
Here’s the terrible part: Ironically you can become so inundated with technology that you actually get sick of it. And not everyone is tech savy. Then, sometimes the world of technology just doesn’t want to cooperate and refuses to load, get online or send the photo you painstakingly chose after 10+ horrible shots in front of a mirror. There’s also the true fact that talking to someone via webcam or through texting is no substitute for them being there.
It’s easy to think that technology makes LDRs easier –I’m here to tell you that is not always the case. Sometimes it makes things more stressful than the relationship itself.
You REALLY need a concrete plan to end the distance
I’m guilty of not following this advice for the first few years of my LDR. We knew we were committed, we knew that we wanted to close the distance but we never set a date, never had a plan and never actively took any steps to close the distance.
When we finally started to plan to close the distance (after a couple of years even) it was disappointing to find out that it would take us an additional THREE YEARS to close the distance properly. As you can imagine that was quite a blow to a couple that just wanted to finally be together.
I cannot stress how important it is to have a plan right from the start –or as soon as possible. If you’re going into an LDR, be committed from the start. You cannot go into a long distance relationship thinking that you and your partner are casually dating and you’ll decide later if or when you want to be together. That won’t work and you need to know right up front if you want to pursue a permanent relationship with that person at the end of the distance as well as when and how you’ll do it.
LDRs are 50% trust and 50% commitment
It takes a lot of trust to make things work in a relationship, especially in one that stretches across state or country lines. A big span of distance means that you can’t see your partner every day which can easily lead to feeling suspicious that your partner isn’t being totally honest with you.
A long distance relationship can work ONLY if you and your partner are good at 3 things: being completely honest, keeping your promises or appointments together and being committed to making the relationship work no matter what.
There are no halfsies here! If you and you’re your partner are not BOTH completely committed to the relationship there’s literally no way your LDR will work out in the end.
So if you’re the half that is already having doubts about the plausibility of maintaining a relationship with someone from 4,000 miles away you need to have serious open and honest discussion about that with your partner. Not doing so means you’ve got a ticking time bomb in your relationship before you even got started.
Your relationship will NEED rules to prevent heartache
While some people profess that their relationships do better when there are no concrete rules, those of us in LDRs should think twice before following in that path.
The occasional relationship may work well without any guidelines or boundaries but long distance relationships are already pretty shaky -do you really want to risk breaking you or your partner’s hearts?
Case in point: A long distance couple agreed that it was okay for them to visit voyeur web cam sites to interact with other people outside of the relationship. This was a rule or guideline in their relationship until it began to interfere with their own intimate times together.
Whenever the girlfriend of the relationship was ready to spend some quality time with her partner, he was already spent after having interacted with members on the cam site. Unsurprisingly, it began to affect their relationship since she felt that his relationship with the cam website was paramount to cheating since it made him unavailable to her when she wanted.
This example shows the importance not only of setting relationship rules, but also of thinking very CAREFULLY about what those rules will be. Is it okay for your partner to hang out with the opposite sex? Go on dates? Visit dating sites or video cam with other female friends?
And you guys, would you be comfortable with your girlfriend spending every waking moment apart from you with another guy? These among other things are important aspects of the relationship you need to discuss. If you don’t it can lead to a lot of confusion, anger and heartache. Ultimately, it could be the one thing you didn’t discuss that ends your relationship so try to cover all basis if you can.
You need to be at a good place in your life
Long distance relationships are stressful. You spend months and weeks away from the person you love, you sleep in an empty bed, live in an empty house and have very limited support from the person who is 10,000 miles away from you.
Because of this it’s worth saying that to be in a successful LDR, you yourself need to be emotionally stable enough to be self-sustaining. If you’re the type of person who uses relationships to fill a void or grant you some stability, well, an LDR is as far from a “stable” relationship as you can get.
Long distance relationships can be as stable as any normal close-proximity one, but only if both persons in that relationship are able to contribute to that stability together. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read of couples who are plagued by anxiety because one half of the relationship physically abuses themselves, or threatens suicide because they feel so alone.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are those couples who both NEED physical attachment and can’t seem to keep themselves from cheating either physically or emotionally, because frankly they need that physical element.
Long distance relationships require strong, stable, like-minded individuals. Your relationship is only as strong as it’s weakest like -don’t let that weak link be you.
You need to have some financial responsibility
We all know long distance relationships lack that physical element. What you may not know is that often the couples in long distance relationship have to compensate for that physical element in other ways, namely care packages and other gifts. Oh, and we can’t forget visits to see one another -those are absolutely crucial to the relationship.
Needless to say, these items can add up and while the cost of maintaining your relationship and letting your partner know that you love them is 100% worth it’s still just that -a cost, an expense.
If you aren’t at a point in your life where you can even purchase a gift for your LDR love at any current or near future point, you might want to reconsider an LDR altogether. If you can’t afford to send a gift, odds are you may not be able to afford to visit, celebrate special events together or ultimately close the distance -at least not for a very very long time.
You absolutely must have good communication skills
As mentioned above, technology will be your primary source of communication for a while, as such sometimes messages that are sent only via text can be misunderstood and cause conflict in a relationship.
And don’t think just because you’re skyping or calling one another everyday that misunderstandings or conflicts won’t occur. You and your partner will be be in different locations, not knowing whats going on in one another’s lives. Even the simplest statement that to you makes sense and seems harmless can erupt into a full blown argument because your partner doesn’t understand the circumstances surrounding that statement.
Truth is, if you’re the kind of person who is easily offended, or tends to overreact to small things or statements -you need a mental makeover. An LDR will not survive if either one of you cannot be calm, understanding and patient with the other. In an LDR there’s almost no room for jumping to conclusions and even less room for the fights that can start as a result of it. You’re thousands of miles away and may be second guessing if the relationship is worth it a lot of the time, you never know if that big fight over a small petty thing could be the fight to end it all.
Communication is vital. You have to talk about your feelings, talk about the relationship, talk about your worries or concerns or how you can’t stand being apart. If you are a person that tends to clam up and keep your emotions or problems to yourself or who generally isn’t very expressive with your partner when you are in person -be forewarned, an LDR requires double the amount of communication you’re spewing out now. Be prepared to be open and honest about anything and everything. Your partner can’t read your mind. Do you think you can you handle that change?
You will have to make many sacrifices
Far apart or not, you have to make sacrifices to spend time together the same way you would if you were physically together. I can recall times when my boyfriend would skip out on ritual weekend get-togethers with friends just because I was having anxiety about being alone all weekend. He sacrificed that time with his friends for me which made me feel like our relationship was real, solid and something he felt was worth sacrificing for.
Sometimes sacrifices can mean letting your partner go out and spend time with people who aren’t you no matter how much you wanted to skype, call or chat that particular day. Sacrifice can mean spending money you would have spent elsewhere on a gift, a visit or sometimes even a phone call.
You can’t be selfish in an LDR and neither can your partner. Like any relationship, LDRs are give and take -don’t let the distance fool you.
LDRs are not for the faint of heart
You and your partner will fight. A lot. Over the pettiest things sometimes too, because being away from someone that you love is hard. But having that person unable to be there, or be busy when you really need them is even harder.
Besides that, it’s hard to trust someone you hardly see in person. You have to put a lot of faith in someone miles away, who you often have no reliable means of checking up on. Jealousy can easily sneak up on either of you -in fact it would be surprising if you never had at least one jealousy-based disagreement or problem.
Add on the fact that you will feel frustrated almost all the time. Every waking moment of your relationship from that point forward will be spent missing someone. Thats definitely a reason to feel frustrated. Additionally its easier to prolong your LDR so that the time you are apart becomes even longer. Its easy to stay long distance for “just a little longer” when you’re already enduring it and THAT can be pure torture.
I’m sure at this point you’re thinking “this sounds really bad, why would anyone do this?” and that’s the point that I’m trying to make here. Before starting a Long Distance Relationship you need to be absolutely convinced that person you’ll be sticking it out with is 100% worth it. That the relationship and all its trials are worth the reward at the end of the line: your partner.
Things always work out when there’s hope, trust and love behind it. So, if you go into your LDR with the right attitude and equal levels of commitment, it will succeed!
We’d be happy to hear what YOU think is important to know Before Starting a Long Distance Relationship since having the experience of being in one, you’d likely know!
Leave a comment with your pointers!