TIL’ DISTANCE DO US PART… OR NOT?

TIL’ DISTANCE DO US PART… OR NOT?

Long distance relationships suck. There’s no easier way to put it. Throughout my short-lived life, not once have I ever heard another say, “I’m so excited that I don’t get to see my partner for two months.” 

I’ve been in a relationship for just over two years and eight months of that relationship have been spent six hours apart. If I could describe a long distance romantic relationship (LDRR) to someone who has never been in one, I would describe it as sitting in a room while someone vigorously scratches a chalkboard for hours and forces you to listen. Meanwhile, your heart is getting ripped out of your chest and then tossed in a high speed blender. These actions are then repeated multiple times. That’s the nicest way I’d put it. 

LDRRs are the epitome of testing one’s relationship’s strength. It tests loyalty, communication, and love. I won’t put it lightly, LDRRs require a lot of work on both parties’ ends. Frankly, this so-called “work” doesn’t necessarily have to do with the relationship itself. LDRRs test one’s self. LDRRs put a toll on one’s personal emotions, releasing jealousy, anxiety, and cold-heartedness into the relationship. These added stressors ultimately put a toll on one’s mental health. At that point, you really need to decide if this is something worth fighting for or if you’re putting yourself at risk. 

There was a point in my life that I was completely against the idea of long distance relationships. I couldn’t fathom how one goes about their everyday life without having any face to face contact with the one they love. Oddly enough, look where I am now. 

LDRRs are more common than they seem. Approximately 32.8% of college relationships are long distance. Amongst that, the average distance is estimated to be at 125 miles. On average, long distance partners call each other every 2.7 days and only visit each other 1.5 times a month. 

Despite not being an expert by any means, I have learned some valuable lessons throughout my relationship. 

Anxiety is the Devil on Your Shoulder 

Anxiety is your worst nightmare in a LDRR. The constant pressure and fatigue of overthinking can dampen your experience. The never ending thoughts of, “should I just date the mailman, at least he comes to my house everyday.” It’s easy to get caught up in this emotional rollercoaster leading to a never ending spiral of worry. “Is this person going to cheat on me? Are they feeling the same pressure I am? Do they really love me?”  I’ve learned these are normal thoughts. The feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious over trivial matters is likely to occur, but completely controllable. Eventually, one must come to terms with reality and face facts. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Simple, right? Not necessarily. It takes time and trust. It takes the work on both parties’ accounts. Somewhere along the road, you’ll know if it’s really worth fighting for. 

Communication Really is Key 

Communication goes hand in hand with anxiety. If your partner refuses communication, it’s a formula for disaster. Let your partner know if you’re unable to text today because your schedule is bombarded, let them know when you’re going out with your friends and won’t be looking at your phone, and let them know when you need time alone. Without that prior communication, stress and anxiety are amplified. “Why aren’t they texting me back? Are they mad at me?” In no means do I suggest you need to be in contact 24/7, however maintaining that communication to stay on the same page can really save your relationship in the long run. 

Make Time

Finally and probably the most important of them all, make time for your significant other. We all have busy schedules, however attempting to schedule a time that works for both of you to be able to stay in contact is incredibly important. During this time in our lives, we are experiencing a digital phenomena and we’re being exposed to new technology everyday that can allow us to maintain relationships from afar. Take advantage of that. Watch movies with your partner, go on virtual dates, FaceTime. These are all technological advancements that can be used in your favour.

By now, those of you reading are probably thinking, “she thinks she’s an expert because she’s been in a LDRR once in her lifetime.” I’m no expert, yet I’ve been burdened by the constant sigma that revolves around LDRRs. Many oppose this form of relationship due to the frightening statistic that approximately 40% of LDRRs lead to a break up and those usually experience problems within 4.5 months. 

Did you know that 75% of LDRRs end up becoming engaged at some point in the relationship and approximately 3.75M United States citizens are currently married in successful long distance relationships? Long distance relationships have the ability to work. It just takes time and effort. 

Despite the ongoing horror stories of LDRRs, I’ve found many positives that go along with maintaining a healthy LDRR.

You Get to Know Your Partner Better 

When you’re in a LDRR, you have nothing else to build the foundation of your relationship on other than words. You can take that time to share your experiences, hobbies, and goals. You can really learn a lot about a person by just sitting down and having a conversation. These interactions, although may be few, allow for you to develop a deeper connection with your partner because you don’t see each other everyday. Tell them how your week is going, what you accomplished, and something that made you smile. These notions of communication will further just help your relationship in the long run. 

You’re Less Likely to Confuse Lust and Love 

In some relationships, you may be confused on if what you’re experiencing is pure lust or if it’s true love. Attraction within a LDRR focuses directly on emotional intimacy and connection rather than just physical intimacy. Being attracted to somebody because of the connection you share rather than a connection based on sex may not necessarily save your relationship, but it can certainly allow for you to build and maintain that connection and understand your love for that other person when far apart. 

Conflict Resolution and Communication Comes Easier 

With the distance, you and your partner are able to use your communication skills to develop a healthier, long lasting relationship. When issues arise, there’s no other way to solve the issue but to talk it out over the phone or on FaceTime. You learn to express your emotions in a way that allows you to resolve conflicts more efficiently. The communication then becomes natural. 

You’re Able to Share More Memorable Moments 

Despite not being able to see your significant other everyday. When you do see them, it really is like it’s the first time all over again. You are immediately brought back into the “honeymoon phase” where you’re the only two people in the world. You share new memories in new places, take them to your new favourite restaurants, show them everything you love about your city. 

You Learn to Value “Me Time” 

Sometimes LDRRs are best fitted for independent individuals, those people who enjoy being on their own and value their “me time.” That’s perfectly okay. Even if you’re not one to spend time on your own, valuing time alone allows you to grow as a person. It allows you to get to know yourself better and really learn to love yourself. You always hear people say, “time to work on myself” following a break up, but you know what? Fuck that. Who says you can’t be constantly working on yourself? Who says you can’t be working on yourself with your partner by your side, or even a few miles away? 

No matter how many times you say “goodbye,” it never does get easier. They become your favourite “hello” and your “hardest” goodbye. As they walk out that door, you sit there wishing they didn’t have to go and already begin to count down the days until you see them again. 

Maintaining love with the distance is a hard thing to do. Finding a support system and others who are in the same situation as you can truly turn things around. Those people understand what you’re going through and have been through it themselves. You learn from their advice and potentially have the ability to use their tips within your own relationship. 

It never does get easier, but if you love them, it’s worth it.

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Joan Alturo
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