How to Survive Long Distance Relationships (Successfully!)
Relationships are all fun and games until it becomes a Long Distance one!
So, the husband was away for work this past week, and my friends and sister who obviously read this post, where I spoke about discovering my super power when he was last away asked me "So what super power have you discovered this time?". Sorry to disappoint ladies, but I didn't do anything remotely powerful. I only spent too much time lazying in bed!
However, I got to think about Long Distance Relationships (LDR) a lot. You see, he was somewhere in the Far East, 7 hours ahead of UK time. It got a bit annoying to say the least - not being certain what time of the day it was there, and having to often count with my fingers. But ultimately, I was okay because I knew it was just for a week. But then I thought of people in relationships or marriages who have to spend a large chunk of time apart due to long distance.
I think at some point in a relationship or maybe marriage, chances are that long distance will happen. This could be as a result of professional or academic commitments. And I mean real long distance. Not like my friend who called off his relationship because he lived on the island and his girlfriend on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria. (That's like saying North and South of the River Thames in London).
At the point Tee had to leave Nigeria for his masters, I was still in Nigeria and so we were apart for over a year. Needless to say it was the most frustrating time ever! Because I had never been to the UK, so I couldn't relate with his conversations about the underground, the malls and the general UK lifestyle. At some point, I also moved house, got a new job and he had no pictorial representation of these places in his head. But we survived and rather well.
Ok enough of us: now to the tips!
1. Communicate Everyday:
To be honest, this is one for everyone in a serious relationship. I find it a tad bit strange when people say "Oh I haven't spoken to my partner in a couple of days". But it's worse when you're in a LDR. We were students for most of the time apart (and pretty broke) so we used to communicate a lot via social messaging. But we made it a point of duty to hear each other's voice once a day - even if for 5 seconds. So I remember purchasing N50 pay-as-you-go call credit - which allowed for barely 50 seconds of call time, just to fulfil this tradition! It's easier now with Skype and FaceTime and all. In communicating, ensure you remind each other of the long-term goal, keep the hope up and think of the better times ahead.
2. Get Busy:
Being generally idle and in a LDR is a horrible situation. You spend all the time thinking everything will be better if only you were together. Nah! Remember you should have different support networks. Make sure you have a pretty full calendar - learning a skill, volunteering and generally being busy. There's less time then to feel the pain of the distance.
3. Avoid Tricky Situations:
It's tempting to consider spending a lot more time with people you can see physically. So the babe or guy who is constantly inviting you to dinner or to the movies. The reality is we are often drawn to those we spend more time with. It's just human nature. You may start off, with no interest at all or even with dislike - but it could be a dangerous one. By all means hang out in groups. But tricky one on ones? Not too sure.
4. Online Dating
So rather than number 3, why not consider this! It's a useful tip. And no, I don't mean like date other people online! I mean, date your significant other online. Schedule a time to watch your favourite TV show, or YouTube videos while on a video call. Or decide to cook the same meal for dinner and video call while eating and catching up! Maybe even play an online game? I know nothing beats physical presence but this generation has it so much easier. We should be grateful! While I think it's great to spend time online, I don't think you should spend TOO much time online. Trust me, at a point you're likely to get frustrated at being so close, yet so far. So refer to point number 2 above to keep this in check.
5. Send Letters / Gifts/ Surprises
Being in an LDR often makes you think "oh if only he was here then I'll have sent a cake to his office or arranged a surprise dinner". Well, he's miles away, but nothing is stopping you from doing that. I remember being in Law school and receiving a hand written letter on a couple of occasions from Tee from the UK. Or remember this post when he sent a cake on my 25th birthday? I also love buying men's gifts, so at various points, I arranged with his friends to get this done. It may have been a pretty cheap item from Primark - but hey, I was a student and it's the thought that counts yes?. Don't slip up on the opportunity to do these things because of distance or cost.
6. Speak of Them to Others
We found it generally helpful to not only speak to each other, but to speak of each other in daily conversations. I think it helps bring to the fore, the consciousness that your partner is present and not just far-away in a distant land. Plus it really does help avoiding tricky situations described above. I know some people in relationships prefer not to talk about their partners when in a LDR, because they don't want to put all their eggs in a basket and prevent any potential dates. But if this is a serious relationship, and not just testing the waters - then I think this is a good tip!
LDRs will test you and your relationship. But with eyes on the prize, you won't break and you'll survive unscathed!
Finally, it's with pointing out that there should be a goal or an end in sight. Being in a relationship with someone who is away for a 5 year period with no hopes of visiting or you both being together, might be a very tricky one to pull off. Sometimes, it's better to end it and move forward!
What's are your thoughts on LDR. In one now or ever being in one? How long after dating will you feel confident to survive a LDR? Any hacks or tips for survival? Will distance mean a complete break up for you? Long Distance Marriage?
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