When I met my current boyfriend, I knew that a long-distance situation was inevitable.
I always considered myself someone who doesn’t believe that long-distance relationships work and that if those involved somehow managed to stay together, their relationship lacked an authenticity or closeness other same-city relationships did. Then, I proved myself wrong. About four years ago, I was in a long-distance relationship for a year with my current boyfriend when we were both living not only in different cities, but in different countries. It was a challenging experience but ultimately rewarding. Here are 5 ways we made a long-distance relationship work for us and why it may or may not work for you and your loved one.
1. The Relationship Was Easy When We Were Together
When I met my boyfriend, there was an instant “knowing” between us. It was equal, easy, and reasonable from the beginning. To me, that was key. Besides the distance, everything about our relationship was working, and that is important to remember when you are left alone at a distance to think, think, and think some more. If you both have that intuitive base of “knowing” to hold on that keeps you equally interested in one another, you won’t let the details distract you or any lopsided feelings aggravate the situation. Neither of us had a negative relationship dynamic to cling onto and build up in our head’s that would threaten our relationship. Our expectations and values were aligned and the foundation was strong.
If there is more than distance in the way, the journey will be a lot more stressful and, potentially, set itself up for demise. Pick and choose your long-distance partner wisely. You shouldn’t be more into him than he is into you, and vice versa. Being on the same page is a prerequisite to success. Fighting with one another isn’t fun, but fighting at a distance is way worse.
2. We Talked About It, Even When It Was Uncomfortable
I had been living in Istanbul for about two years when I met my current boyfriend. One of the first things I learned about him was that he was just wrapping up his semester in Istanbul, where he had gone to do more research for Master’s project. He had two months left in the city before he jetted back to Germany.
Logistics considering, we didn’t have much of a chance. Who signs up for an international, long-term relationship after two months of togetherness? The fact that he was moving back to Germany meant we’d have to make a decision about our future pretty quickly. Long distance is no joke and requires a serious agreement and commitment on both ends. Winging it doesn’t ensure stability.
To make it work, you have to express your views on long distance (some people simply don’t believe in it) and what constitutes a working relationship at a distance. How often would you talk? How often would you see each other? Is there an end date in sight? Leaving these questions unanswered can breed resentment and misunderstandings in the future. After two months of dating, these conversations felt awkward and required one of us to venture out of our comfort zones, but once it was done, it freed us from a lot of confusion.
3. Whenever We Parted, The Next Flight Was Already Booked
I always stress this point when friends ask me about the most effective way to keep a long-distance relationship together. Whenever I parted with my boyfriend after yet another visit, we would already know when we’d see each other next, or we would even have already bought the plane tickets for the occasion.
A long-distance relationship is already difficult. It stirs the emotions and can be isolating, which is where the problems start to infiltrate or simply get conjured from nothing. However, if you have a date to look forward to, you can go about your daily business without overthinking your relationship.
4. The Time Difference Wasn’t Too Extreme
This is a sneaky factor that I didn’t really consider until I was a few months deep into my long-distance relationship. Yes, we were in different countries, but the time difference was only one hour. This meant that when we talked, we were both seeing either the sun or the moon together. You’d be surprised how much your emotions change throughout the day, and with us experiencing the relatively same time of the day, we were able to keep our emotions in line.
However, whenever I would visit my family in the U.S. for a few weeks and he was still in Germany, our relationship dramatically changed. I wasn’t awake for the majority of his day, and by the time I did wake up for a chat, he was in a completely different mood than I was. The 6-hour time difference presented a subtle but marked difference in our conversations. We couldn’t relate as easily, as one of us was often too busy to chat long with the other or too tired or too upbeat to stay patient and focused. Instead of expressing how we felt about things, we simply talked about what we did and who we saw, which was superficial and limited.
5. The End (of the Distance) Was in Sight
For me, it was important that if I were to commit to a long-distance relationship, I needed us to both imagine a time in which we would be reunited and be living in the same place. Why put all your effort in a relationship, especially one in which you rarely see the person, if there is no light at the end of the tunnel? Long-distance relationships are an investment in time, and they naturally end with the expectation that you won’t be long-distance after some point. Both of you need to know an approximate day, month, or year in which you can begin a regular relationship. And, most important, you have to talk about it with your significant other. If you are both on the same page with the end game, it makes the long distance part of your relationship a whole lot easier to endure.
Couple on Train Image from Shutterstock