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Making It Work and Planning for Your Future

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.

Plan Upcoming Visits

There is an endgame to every LDR — to be together physically soon.

Long-distance relationships are for those who see themselves with their potential mate in the future — if you and your partner don’t want that, don’t waste your time on an LDR. Whether it be wedding bells or building a life together somewhere in a hut in the Caribbean, people are willing to invest in an LDR because they know it is worth it. LDRs are usually a temporary state until both partners reunite in the future. Prolonged LDRs with no end in sight or no goal to be together soon are doomed to fail.

Also, if your budget allows for it, plan to visit each other often or plan for a future trip together. This is one of the best ways to keep an LDR alive and kicking. An opportunity to see the other in the near future will undoubtedly keep you excited, on your toes, and counting the days till your reunion. I’d say do a minimum of one month and maximum of four. My sister saw her boyfriend (now husband) at least once a month for 7 years. How’s that for commitment?

Give Your Loved One Some Space and Keep Yourself Busy

It can get quite scary when the person you spend most of your time with is suddenly whisked away, probably somewhere on a camel in the Sahara Desert. There’s an urge to try to keep them constantly in your life because, face it, you miss their company and it hurts not hearing back. You reach for your phone ready to text them, trawl through their Facebook or see if they are online.

Stop. I’m telling you it’s a bad idea.

Hard as it is, try to resist smothering your partner. They are probably just settling in or trying out all the new cultural nuances of their new country. You would probably want them to enjoy all those new experiences. Also, it gives them the chance and time to miss you. If you start bombarding them with all sorts of communication, it would portray you as being clingy or, worse, annoying.

One thing that can keep you from reaching to click their name is distracting yourself. Always had a hobby you wanted to pursue but didn’t have enough time? How about those salsa classes you’ve always wanted to join? What about that trip you’ve been dying to take with your friends? Suddenly you have all this time open to you. Take advantage of it. Dive in and enjoy yourself. Your sweetheart would appreciate you for doing it instead of moping around mourning and anticipating their return.

That way when you finally get to talk with your loved one, you have something new on the table instead of the usual “Work is fine. Everything’s the same as usual.” Chances are when your partner is experiencing all the new highlights of their new expat destination, they will appreciate that you are enjoying a whole new adventure as well.

Every Day Is Different

Not every day is the same. There are some days you won’t feel like talking to each other. There are some days you are not in sync and he’s grumpy and you’re ecstatic to see him. There’s nothing you can do about it because you’re thousands of miles apart. And it’s so much harder because of that.

Take a few deep breaths. Say with me, “It’s going to be okay.”

Like the weather, things don’t stay constant. Chances are there will be a couple of good days, a few bad days, and a lot of okay days. It’s fine. You don’t have to force things. Just let it go. Things will go back to normal soon and your partner will be back to their usual self. Just make sure they know you are there for them.

However, if every time you talk your partner seems to be unhappy, you need to talk to them and find out the reason. With an LDR, open communication is the key.

Research Your Partner’s Expat Location

Imagine you’re on the phone with your sweetheart. “Hey, I miss you and...” You hear a crackle. You’re surprised. Your partner’s voice is fading away. “Me too…It’s been crazy…In the city…cars…water everywhere...”

That’s when you realize a typhoon has hit their work location in Manila, Philippines. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to listen to CNN this morning.

By keeping abreast of current events, you keep tabs on your loved one’s safety. It also can’t hurt to do some research on the place where your partner is currently located. Dig up some news on the current weather and information about the place so it feels like you’re experiencing it along with your partner.

So next time you’re on the phone with your sweetheart you can say, “I heard it’s 34°C in Manila now. You must be burning up there! Oh, I also heard about the traffic accident near the Mall of Asia.” Wait for a flurry of “I know! It’s crazy!” Then say, “I also read your favorite brand of peanut butter isn’t available there so I’d like you to know I’ve shipped you one.”

Your partner will truly appreciate you.

Trust Your Partner

Face it. Your loved one will spend more time with other people than you. That’s the fact of a long-distance relationship. But it can be hard not to feel jealous when your sweetheart spends more time with people you don’t know. You are going to Ibiza with your colleague and her friends? Who is this Jon? And worse, you hear this when you are on your couch watching Breaking Bad in the middle of winter.

Take comfort in the fact you are not alone in this.

You cannot forbid your partner from going out and having a good time. You’ll just have to take a deep breath and trust him or her. It’s all part of being in a relationship. To take your mind off things, just go out as well and do things on your own. Go out and have a party. Take some night classes. Invite a few friends over and go bowling. That way when your partner is having a good time, you are too.

Also, be relieved that your partner wasn’t invited to a mud bath in a sleazy hotel somewhere in Bangkok.

Remember, most long-distance relationships are a temporary state. Should it happen that you and your sweetheart get into a situation where you have to be separated for a while, know that an LDR is always a possible solution. It is hard but not impossible. And with these steps it will make it so much easier until your next sweet reunion.


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