Long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone, and being honest (with your partner and yourself) right from the start is the best chance you have at making it work, says Denise.
As you can probably imagine, I get asked “How do you do it?” all the time when people find out I’m in a long-distance relationship.
Maybe it’s because Alain and I have done it for close to four years now that I actually find being in an LDR pretty manageable. We were long-distance from the very start of the relationship, so perhaps that already brought along with it a whole different set of expectations and rules to making it work.
Don’t get me wrong; of course I wish – all the freakin’ time – that we could be a local relationship instead. No amount of Skype conversations can make up for the absence of cuddles and real-life interaction. Every time I go watch a movie by myself – which is quite often – I want him so badly to be around to watch it with me because I know no one else will get as much a kick out of Expendables 2 and Grudge Match as I do. And there’s the intense training; Alain is as huge a fitness junkie as I am – maybe even bigger – and after a gruelling session, there’s no one else I’d rather geek out over martial arts and drills and techniques to. Plus, he’s my most ardent supporter.
I’m sure I don’t need to expound further on the joys of a local relationship – that’s a given.
But having just written all that reminds me about why I have essentially given up the search for someone who lives in the same area code as I have to have a relationship with a person over the computer and the phone. I simply cannot imagine that I’d be so fortunate as to be able to find someone else I have so much in common with. And if you’re about to embark on a long-distance relationship, or considering if you should, that should be the first of the five questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is this person so special that I’m willing to forego all the comforts of a “regular” relationship for him?
Alain and I both have had significant dating histories before we met each other, and that’s a GREAT thing. When we met each other, we pretty much established from the outset that we were the perfect match for each other. There hasn’t been anyone I’ve gone out with in the past whom I’ve established such an immediate connection with – we like the same sports, the same movies, and are pretty much on the same page regarding religion, values, and worldviews. I knew from the bottom of my heart (as cheesy as it sounds) that I wanted to make it with him (sorry). If you have any doubt about the other person at all (be honest now!), it might not be in your best interest to jump into an LDR. Or, you might want to add an escape clause, such as, “We can give it a go for three months. But if it’s not working out, let’s agree to part ways in as civil a manner as possible.” (Actually, I also gave Alain an escape clause when I asked him if he wanted to be exclusive with me, but we lasted past the three-month mark, obv.)
2. Do I have a life outside of my relationship?
If you’re the kind of person whose life revolves around your relationship (I say this without judgement), a long-distance relationship is not for you. No matter how many Skype sessions you try to schedule in a week, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time alone, and you need to be okay with that. It doesn’t matter what you occupy your time with: baking cupcakes, dog-sitting, a sport, at a Twilight fan-fiction meeting … you need just have a life outside of your relationship cos, hey, guess what? Being in an LDR is in many ways like being single, only you’ve promised someone that you wouldn’t date other people.
3. Am I willing to be accountable to my partner (and vice versa)?
An LDR will test the patience of even the most chilled-out people who say they never get jealous. I mean, that’s understandable, right? You and your partner will be spending lots of time with other people, and you won’t always get to “vet” the company he keeps. On the flipside, you need to practise a lot of patience – perhaps more than you’re used to – and update your partner about where you’re going, who you’re going to be with, etc. I wouldn’t consider this necessary if my relationship were local – in fact, I would resent my partner if he made me report my whereabouts to him all the time. But, to ensure that you both don’t go crazy, the two of you need to put in the effort into these “updates”. This won’t just give him a peace of mind; it also lets him know that he’s still an important part of your life, even if he’s not physically there.
Of course, the three questions I’ve posited here do not even scratch the surface where LDR issues are concerned, but they will provide starting points for what you need to think about before hopping into one. As for me, sometimes I find myself wringing my hands in despair because it seems like this madness will never come to an end, but mostly, I have made peace with the situation. And every time I feel down about it, I just remind myself that I’d much rather be in a long-distance relationship with someone awesome than have a second-rate local relationship. I’m not sure if the logic quite holds, but it comforts me, so there we go.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Denise Li talks about what it’s like being in a long-distance relationship. Stay tuned for more!
About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Obviously, she’s also a fan of verbal sparring. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.
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