You’ve heard the old saying: “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Does it really, though? And how long is too long? How far is too far? Can you really make a long-distance relationship advice work?
It’s never easy to be away from the people you love. Whether it’s a good friend, a partner, a child, or a spouse, if people who are used to being together are forced to spend time apart, both people will miss each other and long to be back within hugging distance.
Then again, sometimes it’s good to be away from someone you love. Many times people live far from their parents and wish they could see them more often. But then, when they finally do see their parents over a holiday or during a brief visit, they remember how much their parents get on their nerves, and they are glad to finally go back home again.
In both of these scenarios, the “long-distance” relationship is very temporary. But it’s a very different story if you and your boyfriend is going to college in a different state, or your husband is in the military deployed overseas, or you’re just unable to spend any time together because of your work schedules (you might live together, but if you never see each other it might as well be long-distance!)
Lots of people want long distance relationship advice. Others wonder if it’s possible to have a successful long-distance relationship at all. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible, and it can be rewarding. It’s not going to be easy, though!
5 Things That Make Long-Distance Relationships Difficult
- Loneliness – When you’re far from the one you love, you get lonely. It’s more than just being alone because you miss a specific person and you feel that emptiness they left behind. You feel their absence, and it hurts.
- Lack of Physical Contact – Intimate touch is one of the best parts of a relationship advice, and when you’re in a long-distance relationship you miss that touch. It’s not just sex, either. It might be hard to go without sex, but it’s even harder to go without the hugs and gentle touches that most couples can have every day. Plus, with sex, you can provide your own release… But it’s nearly impossible to self-administer a hug, and definitely impossible to recreate the intimacy of making love when you’re alone.
- Difficult communication – Even when two people are in the same room, it’s easy to get confused and miscommunicate. At a distance, the lack of body language makes communication that much harder. Personally, I’m terrible at talking on the phone and I don’t like video chat much either. Communication is a big challenge in a long-distance relationship.
- Expensive – Imagine going on a date with someone who lives across town. With mileage, a couple of movie tickets, dinner for two, and ice cream, the cost of a date can easily go over $100. Now imagine that one person has to book a flight in order to pick up the other person. Now that date might cost hundreds of dollars. With travel, phone bills, and postage feels, long-distance relationships advice can include a lot of ancillary costs that just aren’t present in a local relationship.
- Inconsistent – The best way to “get to know” someone is to live together. New relationships have to navigate that stuff over a distance which is tough. Seasoned partners may have an easier time understanding one another even when they’re far apart. Unfortunately, most long-distance situations come early in a relationship, while the two people are getting to know each other, not later on when they’ve settled down together.
5 Tips for Making a Long-Distance Relationship Work
- Communication – This is a very, very important piece of long-distance relationship advice: Pay attention to your communication. It’s important for any couple to communicate well, but when you’re far apart you have to be extra conscientious about it. To avoid confusion and miscommunication, be sure to use meaningful punctuation in your emails. Leave robust voicemail messages. Send long letters. Talk about your feelings. And be sure to listen attentively to what your partner has to say! If something seems “off,” get it out in the open and make sure you’re both on the same page.
- Gestures of affection – When two people see each other frequently, it’s easy to show affection in little ways. You can smile at your partner, or give them a squeeze, or write a quick “hello, I love you” on a post-it note and leave it on the fridge. None of those are easy when you live far away… but you still need to show affection as much as you can. Whether it’s sending snail-mail letters, leaving loving voicemails or texts, or setting up a local surprise if you know someone who lives near your partner, there are ways to show affection in a long-distance relationship. Sometimes it just takes a little extra work.
- Visit when you can – No matter how much effort you put into communicating and showing affection, ultimately nothing beats an in-person visit. Save up for a plane ticket, cancel your other plans, and visit the person you love.
- Don’t go overboard – It takes a lot of effort to sustain a long-distance relationship, and it’s easy to go too far. Don’t feel like you have to drive six hours every weekend, or buy a couple of flights per month. That’s a great way to start feeling resentful of your partner, and for your love to start fading. Make an effort… Just be sure it’s what you want to do, not just what you feel like you should do.
- Stay intimate – The thing that separates friendship from something “more” is intimacy. It’s impossible to have sex with someone when they’re 500 miles away from you… But you can do the next best thing. If you’re not comfortable with phone sex, at least make sure your partner knows that you’re thinking about him or her, and wishing you could touch each other. Tell him or her what you’d like to do, or what you’re looking forward to doing when you see each other again. It’s important.
Should I Give Up on My Long-Distance Relationship?
Sometimes relationships just don’t work… And long-distance relationships are definitely more difficult than the rest. Knowing that it can be hard to know when it’s time to throw in the towel. My long-distance relationship advice? Imagine you’re in a regular relationship with this person. Would you still be together if you weren’t “trying to make it work long-distance?” Do you love him/her?
The most difficult situation of all is a long-distance relationship where both people are totally in love – perfect for each other – but neither person is getting enough from the relationship and they can’t be together very often. At a certain point, it hurts more to be in love and out of reach than it does to break up with the person you love.
If you think you’re getting to that point, a trial separation might be worthwhile. See if you can stand being apart… and if you can’t, figure out what needs to change in order for you to stay together. Maybe one of you has to give up a dream job, or switch schools, or live far away from your family. You have to decide what your relationship is worth.
Long-distance relationships can be really, really tough, but they are sometimes the only way to stay attached to the person you love when you live far apart. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck!