“Long distance is hard.” -Everyone
It was years ago the first time it happened. He lived in New York. Brooklyn, to be exact. I was living in San Francisco. Where we met: the Caesars Palace pool. He was tall, (deviously) charming, and had just gotten his Masters at Stanford. I was impressed but so what? Why would anyone get involved with someone who lived in a different city, especially one on the other side of the country? I mean, seriously. Maybe it was the dizzying Vegas sun or the bottomless mimosas, or maybe it was the fact that I had just gotten out of a relationship. But for whatever reason, I gave him my phone number. What I didn’t know then was that this innocent exchange of digits was the beginning of a year-long, extremely dysfunctional, long-distance relationship (LDR).
The relationship was not built on a solid, or healthy, foundation. It was built on alcohol and dreamy expectations. We barely saw each other and he eventually confessed that he had been sleeping with someone else. Whatever happens in Vegas, let it stay in Vegas. I’m serious.
“Dust yourself off and try again.” -Aaliyah
I moved on. (Literally. I moved to southern California.) I grew up. I also promised myself that I would never, and I mean never, get into a long-distance relationship again. However, can you really control who comes into your life? Nah. Life is full of surprises. In 2012, I reconnected with an old acquaintance who gradually grew into someone I liked. A lot. Guess what? I still like him. A lot, a lot. He is different from any guy I have ever dated. Halle-freakin-lujah. He supports my sobriety (in fact, he hasn’t had a drink in his life) and we have a mutual love for adventure. We don’t share the same zip code, but we live close enough to see each other about every month. We’ve traveled the country together and have met the parents. It is by no means a perfect relationship. I’m 26 and still figuring this whole life thing out. However, I feel somewhat qualified to say that if you follow the list below, you will absolutely have a chance at a successful long distance relationship.
How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
1. Travel. The best part about being in a long distance relationship is the inevitable skip, jump, hop to the airport. Please make trips to see each other and do it often. Make sure you know when you’re going to see your person again. Not seeing each other for months is asking for a breakup.
2. Communicate. Communication is undeniably crucial when distance is involved. Have the maturity to talk about the uncomfortable stuff that comes with a relationship. It is not desirable to have a disagreement with someone via your smart phone, I get it, but talking about the hard stuff is going to help your relationship grow. Above all, don’t hold back your feelings. If you love the person, let them know. If it doesn’t go both ways, be aware that the relationship probably isn’t going anywhere.
3. Defy distance. Send sexy photos to each other. Facetime. Skype. All da time. Visually seeing your man/woman is just as important (and pleasurable) as talking on the phone.
4. Be creative. Write a letter or send a surprise care package because duh. Also, e-cards were invented for people like us. Take advantage.
5. Choose to trust. I get it. It is totally natural to worry about what your significant other might be up to when you’re not around. Nonetheless, I would recommend trusting this person until they give you a reason not to. Why? Questioning your partner of sneaky behavior 24/7 will make you appear exactly as you feel: crazy. Breathe. This person chose you for a reason. This person is not your scumbag ex. Avoid the temptation to be controlling and accusatory. Be trusting, be smart, and stay positive.
6. Support and encourage each other. You can be there for someone you love, no matter how far.
7. Be realistic. The typical end goal of a long distance relationship is to eventually share the same walls. At a certain point, be ready to talk about the future. Ask yourselves: will you eventually share the same city?
8. Know the status of your relationship. Is this person your boyfriend? Your lover? Friend with benefits? Labels can be lame, but you better know what kind of relationship you’re in. If the person only refers to you as a friend, he might be hiding something or he’s not emotionally ready to be in a relationship. Whoopsie.
9. Be dependable. Be available. Be consistent. Daily ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ texts work pretty well for me.
10. Be your own person. Don’t lose sight of your goals and dreams. You can live the life you’ve always imagined and be in a relationship at the same time. You can. You just have to find the right person.
You, dear reader, are ambitious. You are strong, beautiful, and worthy of love. Based on experience, I have found that long distance relationships can fail or they can thrive. I also know that if you find the right person, the distance is worth it. If you find yourself dating someone in a faraway zip code, I sincerely hope that the ten tips above benefit your relationship. Whatever happens, you will be okay.