On our Instagram we've had many people sent us messages with multiple questions regarding long distance relationships. The most common question they have is a simple one to ask, but more elaborate to answer: "How do we make the long distance relationship work?"
Long distance relationships are challenging due the distance, but definitely not impossible when you have the right tools to maneuver through the unknown. There are a couple of points that every couple should go over as to decrease the amount of confusion and increase the chance of survival.
As with every relationship, communication is one of the most important aspects. This applies even more when you are in a long distance relationship considering that you are far away from each other and can't always catch the subtleties of someone's body language to tell you what's going on.
Fortunately we live in a time where technology is widely available. Make use of it! Back in the day people had to write letters to each other which would take months to arrive, let alone to get a response. Today we can video chat, send texts, call or do activities together with the use of the internet, which will have a positive effect on the amount of communication that we can have with our partner. Now that these possibilities are available, one should discuss with their SO what they can expect from each other. Too little can cause feelings of distancing and anxiety, while too much can cause suffocation or isolation from the person's environment. It is important to find a balance that works for you two. You could start out by asking these questions to each other and see where you agree on:
- How often should we text?
- How often should we call?
- How often should we video call?
- How often should (or can) we visit each other?
If you don't have the same answer to a particular question, there should be room to compromise to help meet each other's needs. Some people require a lot of communication, while others prefer less. Sometimes it may be more difficult to meet preferences due to busy schedules of work, study or attention to friends and family. It is therefore not only important to meet each other's needs, but to acknowledge the limitations due to someone's environment that they participate in, how difficult that sometimes may be.
You want your SO to be happy and having social contacts besides you is very important for that. Of course they hate the distance just as much as you do, but limiting all contact solely to the two of you is not healthy and will cause feelings of sadness and depression in the long run. People need to vent and get their mind off things that they keep close at heart sometimes in order to gain energy to continue.
Our personal agreement
As an example for this we'll give you what we agreed on during our 2 year long distance. We agreed on a 'good morning' and 'good night' text and a video call once a week during the weekend. We would sometimes do more texts (or fun selfies and pictures) in between, but never expected anything, so it would be considered something extra.
We realised that during the week we were both busy with school and socializing, and the six hour time difference didn't make it easier either. So we reserved some hours on Sunday to video chat and catch up on that weeks happenings, while during the week we we're both busy and engaged in things going on around us in person.
Sometimes it occurred that a video chat was cancelled due to schoolwork for example (Chery was in her final year, can you imagine), but she'd tell Nathan ahead of time so he could plan his day as well instead of being 'stood up', and we'd try to reschedule or do it next week. We also tried to visit each other every six months. This was because of both our studies and the price of plane tickets, which is always going to be a limitation in these situations. Because of these agreements we both knew what to expect and what was expected, so the disappointment would be limited to a minimal and allowed us to continue while still having a social life.
These questions are the first examples of many things that can be discussed between the two of you, but it can extent itself to all topics that might be of influence to the relationship and each other. Other questions that we have seen are: "Is it okay to go clubbing with friends?", "Can I go to the bar with by buddies?" and "How often is okay?". This all depends on how comfortable you two are in the relationship.
We happened to be less of the clubbing kind, although Chery likes to dance, she didn't have a lot of time back then. Nathan liked to go to the bar with his friends to play some pool and listen to music. He would tell Chery how the night had been at the end and maybe send some pictures along. This will allow trust to grow over time and result in a stronger bond, besides wanting to share a fun experience with your SO.
Due to the nature and infamous reputation of clubs and bars we wouldn't push it though. Nathan wouldn't spend his time at the bar too often because he knew as well that even the strongest people can have a moment where they feel anxious about the distance and these places, and we were no exception. This was our way of balancing to make sure we could have a good time while still taking each others emotions in consideration. Mind you that we didn't forbid anything, we understood and wanted to help each other get through. Placing yourself in each others shoes can help that tremendously when trying to find a good compromise. Of course people have different opinions on this, ranging from completely fine with daily clubbing to absolutely not okay with a single night out, but it's important to find a healthy midway.
Although there are more points that add up to making a long distance relationship work, the underlying thought is in the communication. Therefore we will continue the other points in another blog post and end this one with a final piece of advice. Respect each other's needs, but stay healthy with the requirements. Never forbid, as you do not own someone. Both of you should be willing to make the sacrifices for each other out of own will and love for the other person. If you keep this in mind and find a compromise that works for both of you, you two are definitely moving in the right direction for a successful long distance relationship!