Long distance relationships are hard. Two years ago I began a long distance relationship that spanned several states, countries, and time zones. At times, this seemed like an extremely ill advised idea, but eventually I realized that there are a lot of amazing benefits to an LDR.
There are no activities to distract or fill in awkward silences
Normally, when you first start dating someone there is a rush of new activities to do together to give you something to talk about and take some of the pressure off of being entertaining. In my LDR, we would see each other once a month at best. The in between time was simply filled with talking and getting to know each other in a real way.
You create innovative ways to bond
Because we didn’t have the option of having IRL dates very often, we had to come up with different experiences to share. Reading the same books or listening to the same podcasts gave us new ideas to discuss and dissect together. Watching TV or movies together over the phone became a surrogate for Netflix and chilling. Just because you’re not in the same place, doesn’t mean you can’t have dates.
Communication is different and deeper
Because you spend so much of your time together just talking, you breach topics like life plans, opinions on marriage and children, and past experiences much sooner than you might in a normal relationship. Without facial expressions and body language cues readily available, you have to learn to say what you mean and listen to your partner.
Trust is essential
In the era of social media, stalking a potential lover has never been easier or more dangerous. It’s easy to let jealousy run rampant as you draw erroneous conclusions from countless hours of social media monitoring. It is essential that you build a solid foundation of trust, using the previously mentioned communication skills, so that you’re not wasting time worrying that they’re cheating on you. If you can’t trust your partner, don’t even attempt an LDR.
Absence doesn’t just make the heart grow fonder; it does some pretty amazing things for your lower parts, too. Yes, the long weeks of celibacy in between trips to see each other are challenging, but when you finally do see each other the release of all that pent up energy can be electrifying. And don’t underestimate the value of sexting for maintaining that connection.
It’s an excuse to travel and/or be a tourist in your own city
When you finally do get to go on dates together, there is no shortage of activities to explore in your respective cities. You either get an excuse for a weekend away, or an opportunity to see your city with fresh eyes. For an even more adventurous getaway, the two of you can meet in a city that is new to both of you.
You maintain separate identities
It’s easy in a long-term relationship to blur the lines between you and your partner’s identities. I’m still at a time in my life where I’m figuring out who I am and what I want, so it’s really valuable to me to have the time and space to explore those questions. Even though we’re no longer long distance, the precedent of separate hobbies and social lives is already there. Maintaining separate identities decreases the likelihood that you’ll grow bored of each other.
It is the ultimate test – if you can survive this, you can survive anything
Even with all of these benefits, long distance can be extraordinarily taxing on your emotions. There will be moments where you will wonder if all the pain is worth it. If neither of you are willing to put in the time nor energy required, the relationship probably won’t last. But, if you can survive this, the chances are you two can survive anything.