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How to Survive A Long Distance Relationship

By Kate Yu
I used to have a romantic notion about long-distance relationships. I blame it on the movie “Going the Distance”, in which the lead characters, San Francisco native Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett from New York City (Justin Long) fall in love, pursue a long-distance relationship, and — what do you know — have a happy Hollywood ending.

Years later, I would find myself in not one but two long-distance relationships and discover that it wasn’t all hugs, kisses, and Hollywood fairytale endings. The truth of the matter is long-distance relationships or LDRs are like a battle in the trenches. This is no Cinderella meets Prince Charming. Unlike normal relationships, LDRs are devoid of all physical contact. It can be hard to feel affection to and intimate with your loved one when all you have is a pixelated blurb on Skype. But LDRs can still work and if you value your partner, you can still make your relationship last even if you’re thousands of miles away. Here are some practical tips that can help you.

Establish Your Role in the Relationship

The question: “Where are we right now?” hangs ominously before couples depart. It’s important to establish this before you start a long-distance relationship. Did you just start dating? Are you still openly dating other people? If you are, then forget it. There’s no use in doing long distance if you haven’t committed yourself to being exclusive. Start harping on wanting commitment and you will see your partner run for the hills.

Like Danielle. Danielle fell head over heels in love with a backpacker, Tony, when they were traveling in Bolivia for a month. Eventually they parted ways, Danielle returning to Belgium and Tony to the States, with the promise of doing long distance till they see each other again.

It didn’t work.

They had not known each other long enough to build the foundation of their relationship. Eventually, Tony lost interest and pursued law school while Danielle started dating her grad school classmate.

By making sure you’ve firmly established that you will be exclusive to each other and have been dating for a long time, you will be able to do better in a long-distance relationship.

Ask Yourself If You Can Do a Long-Distance Relationship

LDRs are not for everyone. Whether it is for you depends on your personality and where you are right now in your life. Can you stand not having someone for a period of time? Are you a good and consistent communicator via emails, instant messaging, or Skype? Can you remain faithful if your sweetheart isn’t around? If you answer "no" to most of these questions, a long-distance relationship is not for you.

Communicate Wisely

Stick to one or two mediums of communication to keep things straight. You don’t want any miscommunication. With today’s technology, communicating with your loved one is just so much easier than before when all we had was snail mail or, worse, the telegraph. With Skype, Instant Messaging, Twitter, Facebook it can get overwhelming when you are bombarded with incessant notifications in all mediums at the same time. I remember I forgot the date and time my boyfriend was coming to visit and couldn’t recall if he had sent it via Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Instagram. In his past LDR, my friend Anthony suddenly got buried in a flood of texts, Skype voicemails, and Google chats. You guessed it. He quickly ran for the hills.

Set Up a Schedule

Create a schedule for communication you and your sweetheart can commit and stick to — this builds routine and anticipation for “seeing” each other. This is very helpful especially if you live in opposite time zones (example: he lives in Seattle, US and she lives in Singapore) and it can be hard to find a common time to talk.

Give Advance Notice If Something Comes Up

It can’t be helped that sometimes we miss our appointments for that weekly Skype talk. You’re working in your office and your colleague suddenly tells you that everyone is going out for a drink in the bar nearby to celebrate Emily’s engagement. You don’t know Emily but you don’t want to miss out on all the fun and booze. Then you remember you have to Skype with your boyfriend later in the evening. If you want to go, tell your partner you can’t make it via email or text ahead of time. Do not skip an appointment with your partner without giving notice! That just builds resentment. Chances are they might have canceled other plans or stayed up an hour later just to talk to you. Skipping out on your weekly session without telling them is asking for trouble.

Set Up a Call Forward for Emergencies

There will be times you won’t be able to reach each other. Maybe your loved one is asleep or in the shower. What if they don’t have internet access? In case of emergencies, it would help to set up a call forward on your Skype accounts so that when you call your girlfriend or boyfriend on Skype it will automatically forward to their mobile phone or landline.


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