4 Simple Rules For Surviving A Long-Distance Relationship

Long-distance relationships (LDR) can be a drag. They’re a drain on the finances and the emotions. I know — I’ve been there, bought the postcard, earned the frequent-flyer miles and had the heart attack when I saw the phone bill.

We met in the mosh pit. I’d driven six hours to see this band (I’m not telling you who they were, because it’s now mildly embarrassing), and there he was — a titan of a man with flowing long locks and a wicked smile. He played the guitar, he said. I immediately swooned. He spent most of the night trying to push the tide of the crowd back so I could breathe. I beamed when he asked for my email address.

What followed were months of soppy texting, late-night IM sessions, gushing about his latest email to my girlfriends, and plotting weekend trips and clandestine meetings. My emotional state fluctuated from exhilarated and besotted to fearful and weepy. I wanted to be there, I wanted him to be here, but at the same time, I loved what we had.

Although our friends warn against them, long-distance relationships can be romantic and life affirming. Fraught with intrigue and mystery, you retain your independence while still having a sweetheart on the end of the phone. With the few simple rules listed below, an LDR can blossom into something wonderful.

1. Always have something to look forward to. LDRs tend to come to nothing if there’s not an end in sight. Whether you’re planning on moving to their city once you finish university, or he’s booked a holiday to your neck of the woods next summer, you need some kind of set-in-stone future event to keep you motivated and excited about the relationship. Otherwise, eventually the loneliness and sleeping solo will wear you down, and one of you will start lusting after a lover closer to home.

2. Make friends with their friends. Your friends and his friends probably disapprove of your relationship — and I understand why. The person in an LDR spends most of their social time glued to their iPhone, and, when lover-boy or -girl comes to visit, they sequester themselves in their boudoir for the entire weekend/month, and you never see them. It’s easy to see why so many friends regard long-distance lovers as evil temptresses or controlling freaks.

Make a real effort to buddy up to their friends: Add them to your Facebook, chat with them on the phone, and go out with them when you visit. If your lover’s friends like you, they won’t trash you when you’re not around.

3. Texting all the time turns you into a crazy person, so don’t do it. You should also avoid becoming a Facebook slave or an IM addict. The wonders of technology mean you no longer have to wait a week for messages from your lover to arrive. Gone are the days of waiting by the letterbox for scented love letters and telegrams from the war office. With free online call services like Skype, you don’t even have to pay for long-distance phone calls.

However, the constant communication from your beau can turn you into a hopelessly dull person. If all you can talk about is what he said last night, how pretty his nose is and how much you wish you could see him, your friends will stop inviting you out with them. Your mom will stop calling. Your colleagues will cease sitting beside you at lunch.

Cultivate other interests and hobbies, volunteer for a charity and keep up-to-date with the lives of your friends and family, so you’ll have plenty to talk about besides your beau.

At all costs, avoid the melodrama of over-analyzing your communication. If you text and he doesn’t text back immediately, you can’t sulk for the rest of the evening thinking he’s out with some hot young thing. He could have accidentally put his cellphone through the washing machine, or been mugged on the street on his way to deliver a huge package of chocolates and teddy bears to you.

4. Find something to enjoy together. Relationships thrive on shared interests and enjoying activities together. After you’ve gushed over how all your favorite films are the same, how are you going to spend your time together? Working on a joint hobby you both enjoy can be a great way to foster your relationship — maybe you could take an online class in a subject that interests both of you. If you’re particularly creative, you could write and illustrate a children’s book or collaborate on a song together.

If you both want the same things from your time together, and you both commit to making the relationship work, your LDR will be just as fulfilling as if you lived right next door to one another. With effort, love and care, an LDR can blossom into something even more wonderful.

And as for my long-distance titan? After a year of texts and IM-ing, I moved to his city, and we became just like any other couple — only with longer hair and more rock ‘n’ roll.

Image(s): iStock

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