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I spent three years in a long distance relationship back in college. If my blog existed back then, the title of this post probably would have been: 7 Ways to Survive in Long Distance Relationships… because man, that is what it felt like on most days.
Straight. Survival. Mode.
Just continuing to play the game as long as possible without dying, while the game just continues to present increasingly difficult challenges.
Over seven years later, I find myself in another long distance relationship after swearing that I’d never do it again. Yes, I’ve learned to never say never. More importantly, I see that it’s possible to not just survive, but to thrive, and grow closer, in long distance relationships. So, I wanted to share 7 tips with those of you, like me, currently loving your boo from afar.
1. Establish Expectations and Speak Up
When They Aren’t Being Met
I cannot stress this first one enough. Tell your partner what you need from them. Period. If you leave things up to interpretation, I promise you will constantly find yourself resentful of your partner, wondering why they aren’t doing [insert your expectation here]. Feelings of resentment will lead to confrontational and accusatory arguments, which accomplish nothing. Trust me, I went through it with my ex.
Of course, no one is perfect, so when your partner fails to meet your expectations, you cannot be afraid to let them know. The best way to approach this conversation is by reminding your partner of your expectation, explaining why it is so important to you, and how you felt when they didn’t do it. In my experience, when I communicate all three of those pieces, my partner walks away with respect and understanding for my boundaries.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship without staying true to your needs.
2. Ask, Listen, and Offer
It is so important to ask your partner about their day every time you communicate. If they have something to celebrate, show enthusiasm and celebrate with them. If they had a bad day, offer your support in a meaningful way. Don’t just say: “That sucks.” Instead try: “I’m sorry you’re having a rough day. Is there anything I can do to help?”
When you are physically apart, you are both prone to feeling alone. Thus, you have to make a conscious effort to remind your partner that you are there to support them in whatever way they need.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship if you don’t show genuine interest and concern.
3. Find Creative Ways to Say “I Love You”
One of my favorite things is opening my phone to a Cash App or Venmo payment notification. It’s even sweeter when it’s from my boyfriend with a note that it’s for a “nice dinner out” or a “mani/pedi for my girl.” I love this because it’s his way of treating me to activities that he knows I don’t always splurge on for myself. But there are plenty of other creative ways to say “I love you” — make a playlist of all the songs that remind you of them, mail them a letter, put together a care package with all their favorite goodies, send them a picture instead of a “good morning” text every once in a while.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship without showing love in unique ways that will make your significant other smile.
4. Trust Your Partner
Put simply, trust is something my ex and I never had. He had a constant habit of interrogating me whenever he knew I was out at a party. Where are you at? Who are you with? How much have you had to drink? If you are like this, consider how you can re-frame your questions to show you care: “Do you have a safe ride home?” or “Have fun! Text me when you get home so I know you’re safe.”
Of course, trust has many facets. When you’re long distance, one way to build trust is to consistently strive to meet and exceed your partner’s expectations. Also, staying true to your word can go a long way in building trust. If you say you’re going to call at 10pm, call at 10pm. And if something comes up [NOTE: Don’t let this become a habit!] send a text to let them know. Simple communication goes a long way when it comes to trust.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship if you’re constantly questioning your partner’s level of commitment.
5. Utilize Technology!
Let’s just say that when my dad was deployed back in the 90’s, he and my mom had landlines with a spotty connection, at best. In 2019, we have the ability to call, text, send photos, videos, connect on social media, and even have Skype dates. The list goes on and on… take advantage.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship if you aren’t taking advantage of every device, tool, and platform to connect with and actually see your sweetheart.
6. Talk About the Future
Talking regularly about your future together is important for two main reasons. First, it serves as a reminder that long distance does not equal long-term. It is your temporary reality. Secondly, it binds the two of you to a common end-game. Over time, either party may change their mind about the direction of the relationship. That is okay, but only if you both are talking openly about what you want moving forward.
This one ties into #1, then. If you fail to speak about your desired direction of the relationship, especially when it differs from your partner’s… you’re only cooking up a recipe for disaster, complete with misunderstandings and eventual broken hearts.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship if you’re afraid to talk about “where this is going.”
7. Explore Your Personal Growth
Time away from your partner shouldn’t just be you moping around about how much you miss them. Instead, utilize this time to explore your own interests. My blog, for example, keeps me quite busy while I’m on my own. I’m a firm believer that because I am constantly exploring my own personal development, it takes a lot of pressure off my partner to be my “everything” while he is away. He knows I have something that fulfills and invigorates me… and more importantly, he is admires the way I’m always working to turn my dream into my reality.
Ultimately, I approach each day by striving to be better than I was the day before. In any relationship, but especially long distance relationships, you should exist in a continual state of “becoming” the best version of you, not only for your partner, but for yourself.
BOTTOM LINE: You may be able to survive, but you cannot thrive in a long distance relationship without embracing your own personal evolution.
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship or are you currently in one, too? What were/are your tips to making it work? Tell me your story below in the comments!
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