April 07, 2014

LOLA: Tips on surviving long distance relationships

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This is a guest post for Love Out Loud Asia (LOLA). You can view it by clicking here.

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Long distance relationships have always been tainted by negative beliefs, holding the stigma that they fail more often than they succeed. There are too many challenges to keeping the relationship alive due to travel reasons alone. I’ve never believed in one, and I’ve never thought that i’ll jumped into one until last summer, when my boyfriend of three years had to leave for university, halfway across the world.

Honestly, at first glance, I was absolutely pessimistic about the whole outlook. I began searching online for relatable quotes, and read successful stories of long distance couples. I even wanted to ruin my boyfriend’s opportunity - then i realise it was just really selfish. It’s so hard to imagine there are any perks to being in a long distance relationship if you’re not in one. Then, I thought to myself at one point, “Why not just take this as a challenge? Take it as an opportunity to grow individually and my boyfriend?”

Well, challenge accepted.

More and more people are finding themselves in a long distance relationship, whether by choice or not. It is definitely not easy to sustain, but it has been proven that having a successful long distance relationship is possible. I am still trying, and hopefully at the end of his university education, i can proudly declare that we conquered the distance!

Here are some tips on how to maintain a long distance relationship that I can offer, based on personal experience. Again, I am not an expert nor a relationship consultant. However, these tips might be relevant or at least, they can help deal with some problems of being physically far apart.

1) Communication is the key
One of the most important things you can do to stay emotionally close is to communicate on a daily basis. The internet age has made communication so feasible - gone were the days where you have to pay a huge sum of bills just for talking on the phone. Use internet phone/video services such as skype to keep costs manageable, you’ll be able to talk to and see your partner face-to-face too.

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With the upsurge of applications such as whatsapp and viber, you can leave messages and reach out to your partner at any time. You dont have to send heartfelt or long text messages (although, it is always heartwarming to receive a loving text message), sharing something interesting that happened to you that day or something that you just need to vent out, will keep you and your partner close even though you’re technically far away from each other.

2) Be honest with yourself and with your partner
Trust is essential in any healthy relationship, regardless of the distance. I think the common worry for all couples is that your partner won’t stay faithful since you’re not together everyday, let alone in a different country. However, if you are going to be controlling, constantly suspicious or let jealousy rule over your judgment, then you are most definitely going to drive your partner away emotionally.

Your partner is bound to spend a lot of time with other people. It may sound like a torture if you are the jealous type - “I can trust my boyfriend or girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean I can trust the people he or she is meeting!” Instead of dwelling on the fact, why not get to know the people your partner is meeting and help put you at ease? Trust, and stay trustworthy.

3) Set appointments

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My boyfriend and I are eight hours apart, in terms to time difference. We still continue to set “lunch/dinner dates” via skype, like how we normally would when we are not physically challenged. We even prepared the same food and compared the end results! It was so much fun. I think it is important to actually see each other, especially when we are all visual creatures. Also, setting appointments gives you and your partner something to look forward to.

4) Focus on Common Interests
The keynote to this point is to keep doing the things that you like to do when you’re together, even when you are apart. This can be anything. Plan or reading a book at the same time, or share your thoughts on a TV drama? Anything.

My boyfriend and I share videos and articles, which we find interesting, to each other regularly - such as movie trailers, since we both enjoy watching movies. Besides giving us something to discuss, we feel connected despite the distance.

5) Plan on visiting

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“The physical aspect matters more than you think.”

Physical affection helps keep a relationship strong. Regular visiting each other is the best way to forget about the distance. This might be easier said than done, given the high cost of visiting. However, going months without seeing each other, being absent from your partner’s special events and day to day life, makes one go desperate especially when you miss the other half so much.

“When you don’t get to see each other in person that frequently, the times that you’re actually with each other will be even more exciting.”

If circumstances allows, make sure that each person takes a turn visiting the other’s city. This way, no one will feel as though they are doing all the traveling, and thus making all the effort in the relationship as quoted by Debra Berndt, the author of the book, "Let Love In."

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My boyfriend came back for christmas just three months after his departure. Three months later, I managed to save enough money, and went over to visit him. We made the most of it and even took on a trip to Paris together. It was lovely. I cherish the time spent together more than usual, especially when we only get to be together every once in a while.

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Just because both of you far apart, doesn’t mean that all facets of your relationship have to take a hit.

6) Focus on the Positive
Face it. Long distance Relationships are not easy. There will definitely be bumps in the road. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, focus on the good aspects of your relationship, such as having plenty of time for yourself and your friends and the anticipation of being together again as your next visit approaches. Dwell on the good things, you will end up appreciating the one you’re in more.

Like all relationships, there are countless factors that contribute to the success of a long distance relationship. Long distance relationships are not easy, and it requires both partners to be equally committed to the relationship. However, for the right person, I believe that the pain of separation is nothing compared to the joy of reunion.

Love conquers all.


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