arcadiabritt

How to maintain a healthy and successful long-distance relationship

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:45 am

We’ve all had our fair share of wildly inappropriate suitors that cause us to fall deeper and deeper into the realm of cynicism. Even when people are offering to set us up left and right and we spend our Saturdays in the self-help section of Barnes & Noble, we have often found ourselves wondering where our true love is hiding. Where are the dates that leave our senses electrified? Where are the men who pick up the tab and still call the next day? And where are the women who aren’t so needy and weighted down with such heavy baggage that it could never be checked at the airport? Well, what if you did meet one of those mesmerizing characters but he or she is about to hop on the red eye back to their home state, come the morning?

Well, like the “cougar” phenomenon (if you haven’t heard, older women are picking up younger men and holding onto them tightly), a modern trend seems to be picking up speed in the LDR department. Long distance relationships, once perceived to be doomed from the start, are garnering more and more attention as rewarding alternatives to the dodgy dating market. Whether the distance is created after a successful local relationship has developed, often due, in part, to job relocations or the armed forces, or one of the partners simply lives across state lines, LDRs are sprouting up all over the place. Web sites like http://www.ivillage.com and others tailored to the modern woman have countless articles and blogs on how to cope with a love that’s not nearby.

Sometimes it turns out that your true romantic match has not been living quietly in the next town over waiting for your run-in at the bus stop. Albeit difficult, long distance relationships force both partners to tap into their passionate, creative sides to maintain a healthy, successful romance and partnership. If you’re up for it, here are just some of the ways to give your LDR a chance to survive without going broke or spending your nights lost in jealous thought or desperate longing.

BELIEVE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Chances are, if you’ve decided to follow your heart and give a long distance relationship a try, you know something about faith. You must have faith in yourself and your partner to ever have a chance of maintaining a relationship with state lines or maybe even oceans between you. Whatever the distance, to believe in the sanctity of your relationship is an important element in its survival. Tracy Wilkes of Philadelphia, PA has said of her LDR that, “Initially, I believed more in what people said when I told them about Mark and me. I wanted to focus on our relationship but I was constantly being told that 2800 miles was not a relationship. As time passed, I started to see that I was letting the distance mask my true feelings and I started believing more in what we had. Two year later, I cannot imagine not having Mark in my life. The emotional ups and downs have been worth it, because like everything in life, it was a risk to get into this, but I believe in us now.”

TRUST NOT ONLY YOUR PARTNER, BUT YOURSELF

The number one concern for both partners in and out of long distance relationships is trust. To trust another person is often difficult for the most confident of us, because to do so means becoming vulnerable. So having a distance between you and your loved one can allow feelings of jealousy and mistrust to creep into an otherwise solid union.  Do you want to spend the time apart worrying and accusing? Or do you want to put yourself in your partner’s position and realize that they are just as curious about what you are doing as you are they? Trust is to be earned but if it’s not there to begin with, distance could conjure up delusional mistrust that no longer makes either partner happy. Trust in your ability to be honest with yourself and your partner and your time apart will be worth it.

KEEP TALKING

This not only means chatting on the phone at least once a day to let your partner know you are thinking of them, but talking means healthy communicating. Communicate your thoughts, from the mundane (what you felt when you got that paper cut at work today) to the more concrete stuff (how you felt when he didn’t call you after he left his frat brother’s party like he said he would) or about even the more serious issues (when will you actually live in the same city or part of town?). To mask your true feelings is easy when you are not face to face and this is not a good habit to start. Using email, texting, phone calls, webcams and other technology to keep you connected to your partner is a gift, but to communicate false emotions or concerns could lead to disaster. To recognize that you cannot simply wait until you see their face or grab their hand to talk about the real issues is important. But this distance doesn’t have to mean that everything is dipped in sugar when you are apart and the “real” relationship starts when you are together. Communicate whenever you can and be willing to listen as well.

GET CREATIVE

Money for gas, flights, phone bills can add up, but a long distance relationship doesn’t have to break your bank. Have fun tapping into your creative side and showing your partner how often you think of them and miss them. To “web-date” has become a common and cheap way to spend time with someone you love. Just go to http://www.skype.com and download software for free that will connect you to anywhere in the world via phone or video chat. Sending cards or letters in the mail is a pre-modern mystery to some people but the sentimentality can be powerful. David Coleman, the “Dating Doctor” featured on http://www.datingdoctor.com, advises couples in LDRs to “Send quick notes, care packages, letters and postcards. Call and leave messages when you know they are not home. Just let them know that you are thinking of them even when they are not around.”

The truth is, even if you live across the hall from your romantic partner, people leave town on business, have busy schedules, or take vacations. We are not always lucky enough to be around our partners 24/7, but do we really want to? LDRs, like any other ones, can be difficult but they allow us to make room for love in our lives while continuing to grow as people and learn about our own strengths and weaknesses. The keys to any healthy relationship are love, trust, and communication with both ourselves and our loved ones. So if you are contemplating or struggling with a long distance relationship, remember to be honest with yourself and everyone involved. As counselor Kara Devers often reminds her clinical patients, “Be willing to disappoint someone as long as you are not disappointed in yourself.” Therein lies the success, even if the relationship does not succeed. Good luck.

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