Missing your love from miles away? Female Network offers you these tips to help you and your cross-country partner strengthen the spark in your relationship.
For two people who mean the world to each other, it can be painfully difficult to stay apart, especially for over a long, seemingly interminable time, with miles upon miles of land and sea between you. There are occasions, however, when having a long-distance relationship is unavoidable, especially when certain factors such as job offers, studies, and family plans to move to a different region or even country come into play.
Nevertheless, this situation should not be a cause for despair. Although you and your partner will both have to deal with a lack of physical proximity in a long-distance relationship, or LDR, this certainly doesn’t mean that you will no longer be able to keep the romance burning. LDRs don’t have to be characterized by prolonged absences, constant yearning, and the want of physical intimacy; as a matter of fact, an LDR can be fruitful, exciting, and incredibly romantic (just think how sweet Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were in Sleepless in Seattle).
However, you will first need to equip yourself with the right amount of trust, a lot of commitment, and the determination to make the relationship work, even if you both aren’t going to be in the same zip code for a while. Moreover, the wonders of technology will prove immensely useful in helping you get comfortable with your new set-up.
Here are a few tips to help you and your love bridge the space between borders:
Don’t let the distance discourage you. If you keep on projecting fears and uncertainties by thinking of the time you and your partner will have to be apart, you may not be able to efficiently work on strengthening your relationship, on account of the fact that you would be focusing more on all the things that could possibly go wrong rather than thinking of adequate measures to address them. Moreover, this might be detrimental to the trust and intimacy in your relationship, which will consequently lead to more occasions for fights and misunderstandings.
A pessimistic view is the last thing you need when coping with long distance, so try to maintain a positive outlook about your relationship and concentrate on making it blissful, passionate, and worthwhile every day. A change of perspective will go a long way and make the physical separation much easier for you.
HAVE A GAME PLAN.
One of the greatest mistakes a couple can make is to stumble blindly into this phase in their relationship without expecting any drastic changes or establishing rules to help deal with them. Since going long-distance isn’t the easiest of situations to adjust to, you and your partner will have to discuss your expectations from the relationship, as well as come up with a concrete plan of action that will meet the changes that both of you will experience.
When formulating your game plan, try to anticipate the difficulties you may encounter and lay down a set of rules tailor-fit to address them. For instance, how are you both going to address the need for communication on a daily basis? What are the dos and don’ts that you will need to bear in mind when going out with friends and meeting other people?
Paula, a law student, has had an immensely happy long-distance romance with her boyfriend for five years. She shares some of the ground rules that she and her boyfriend have agreed upon: “Ask permission before going out. Text each other and say ‘I love you’ everyday. Be super honest.” These may be simple rules, but they lay the groundwork for a healthy and stable relationship.
REMEMBER IT’S NOT FOREVER.
Be clear about when the separation is going to end. It’s important to come up with an approximate time frame for the separation and establish the point when you’ll be able to close the distance between you—literally. Let this end be the ultimate goal in your relationship, and the most important date to look forward to. Couple’s who aren’t upfront about when they’re going to see each other again may find themselves caught up in a cyclical routine without any certainty and direction.
SCHEDULE CALLS AND ONLINE DATES.
Come up with a regular schedule for communication and quality time. Usually, when long-distance couples don’t agree on a fixed schedule for chatting, texting, or calling each other, either one of them may soon tend to feel neglected or demand time from the other at inopportune or inconvenient instances.
After briefing each other on your respective work schedules, be clear on how many times you will talk over the phone every week, the hours reserved for chatting and online dates, and the like. An email or a simple “I love you” through text at least once day is usually the bare minimum.
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.
Make opportunities for conversation worthwhile. When conversing, update each other on what’s going on in your respective lives. Avoid sending terse replies or substandard one-liners whenever you receive a message from your partner, as this will convey the impression that you aren’t in the mood to listen to what he has to say. Since you won’t be seeing each other face-to-face for a while, it’s important to make the most out of every opportunity for effective communication. (For more tips on how to communicate effectively, see Tala Dayrit’s article on improving communication in relationships.)
When chatting, put those webcams and headsets to good use. Seeing your sweetheart on the webcam and hearing her voice through your headset will be the closest thing you will both have to actual physical proximity. It also helps with better communication when you can hear your honey’s voice and see his expression—it’s easier to tell whether he’s joking or not, for example.
SEND YOUR LOVE ACROSS THE MILES.
Send each other sweet tokens of affection. Besides the usual text and email, there are countless ways to express your love from across the miles. Try sending each other scrapbooks, pictures, gifts, and good old-fashioned love letters through snail mail. This way, checking the mailbox will always be an important and thrilling highlight of your week.
During monthsaries, anniversaries, and other special occasions, be sure to schedule an online date with your sweetie. Dress up and look pretty for the webcam, have lunch or dinner together in front of your respective screens, and utilize those mics. If you have an argument, consider sending a token of apology.
Jasmine (name changed by request), a med rep, tells of how her Canada-based boyfriend had a dozen roses delivered to her door the morning after they had a big blow up over the phone. “I called him up right then and forgave him since he’s a dork,” she says. “But he’s a sappy dork,” she adds with a sheepish smile.
SURPRISE EACH OTHER.
If you know he’s feeling down, send him something quirky to cheer him up, like a singing telegram—you just have to Google the term to find the services closest to him. When he’s working extra hard on a project, send him a funky picture with a note of congratulations. You could even make a game of trying to outdo each other in the surprise and sweetness department.
“When I was finishing up some work in the States and due to come home in a few weeks, my fiancé (now my husband) sent me a picture of a litter of the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen,” says Kathee, a freelance writer and book editor. “One day later, he called me and asked me if I’d gotten it, and when I said yes, he said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to pick one because that puppy’s coming home when you do.’ Now we’ve been married two years and are a family of three—my hubby, my dog, and me.”
CROSS THE DISTANCE NOW AND AGAIN.
Find time to visit each other, if possible. Visits are important because they serve as a reprieve from the physical separation, and give both of you the opportunity to make up for lost time together. They also serve as small goals or ends to anticipate and prepare for.
WORK TOWARD A BETTER YOU.
Your life and your move towards self-cultivation should not end when he goes cross-country. As a matter of fact, you should take this as an opportunity for you to focus on yourself and enjoy your independence. Take up a hobby or sport, look for more opportunities to learn and grow, and continue to strive to improve yourself in all possible aspects, so that when he finally comes home, he’ll be coming home to a better, more wonderful you.
You may even want to take up an activity together, which could spice up your conversations. For example, you could both take up a foreign language and practice using it on each other during your regular calls and chats.
TRUST EACH OTHER.
Trust is indispensable to a relationship, whether cross-country or otherwise. No matter how challenging maintaining an LDR can be at times, always remember that your partner wants to make it work as much as you do. Have faith that you can both make it, and that neither time nor distance will be a hindrance to your deep commitment to each other.
(Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Stephanie Horrocks)