The Loneliness of a Long Distance Lover
Getting a grip on LDR (long-distance relationships).
By Ariana Finlayson
November 10, 2007
When you’re in college and dating the same person you did in high school, you have two options: break up or stay together. Of course, staying together may call for committing to a long-distance relationship (LDR) which can be difficult. How do you go from seeing each other almost every day to seeing each other only once every two months?
That was my situation during the summer leading up to my junior year in high school. My high school sweetheart was going away to a college three hours away, and I still had one year left. I was super bummed out and didn’t know how we would make it work.
When it comes to long-distance relationships, you have to adjust your mindset. I was aware that our relationship was going to change drastically, because really — how can you make a relationship work over the phone?
We both worked hard at it and came out stronger in the end. Here is some advice to keep in mind if you’re about to get into a LDR:
Discuss your feelings about your status. Meaning, are you in an open relationship where you can still date other people for fun? Or is your relationship still exclusive? Also, make sure that both of you are down for making it work. If either of you have any doubts, discuss them before one of you leaves. It’s easier to discuss such a touchy issue in person rather than over the phone or instant messenger.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! You won’t see each other every day, so the physicality of the relationship is lost. Say nice things to each other more often to make up for the hugs, kisses and hand holding that you will be missing. Try to talk a little bit every day. Have two-sided conversations where you each share what has been going on in your life. Reciprocating thoughts will make for quality time and communication. You can also mail letters to them — by snail mail and NOT e-mail! Snail mail is terribly underrated, and receiving mail at school is pretty much pretty much like getting a birthday present!
If you argue — and you will — never hang up the phone on each other. Try your hardest to work through the tiff you’re going through, and if nothing is resolved, agree to sleep on the matter or resume later. Cutting off communication unexpectedly only makes the person more defensive, and when you find they are not calling back, you may get angrier and stir up a new argument.
Try to nip jealousy and insecurity in the bud. By not being next to your significant other and not meeting his or her new friends, you start to imagine the way certain situations pan out. For example, before knowing my boyfriend’s new friends, I assumed that they went out every night because they were all on the soccer team together. Whenever they went out to party, I assumed they would all hit on girls because they could. My boyfriend assured me until the cows came home that it wasn’t the case. But it was so easy for me to believe, it became an obstacle in our relationship. Looking back, I can see how silly I was being. So whenever you feel jealous or insecure, address it immediately. Don’t let it stew like I did at first. And try not to be mean or nasty about it.
Don’t sell yourself short on experiences! Often I see people in LDRs who have the attitude of, “If I can’t go with so-and-so, then I don’t want to go at all.” Whether you are away at college or living at home, you still have to enjoy yourself. Go out with friends, make new friends, and tell yourself to have fun. Also, be sure to tell your significant other to have fun too. When you’re both experiencing new things with new people, it will take your mind off their absence. Since I’m a realist and need to see both sides of the equation, making friends is important, because if you do happen to break up with your significant other, who can you turn to?
It won’t be fun or easy at first — I can guarantee you that! You’ll miss each other tons. You’ll get agitated when you see couples out and about. I was always like, “This isn’t fair! I want my BF right here, right now!”
As long as both of you put your hearts and time into this new page in your relationship, you shouldn’t run into any problems. And if you do — it’s a part of life! I’ve known friends and acquaintances who make their LDRs work, and I’ve seen some fail miserably.
The ones that failed miserably were ones where the two people didn’t see eye to eye on many issues, where there was no effort made to see each other, and the jealousy bug got the best of them. The ones that were successful were pretty much the model of “the perfect relationship.” They would visit each other, be engaged in each other’s lives, and talk every day — sometimes multiple times a day.
You could tell the ones that worked from the ones that didn’t because of the way the two people treated each other. And you’ll know too, because you know your relationship the best. You will know what you need to do to make it work. If you’re stuck, you can always revert back to my suggestions. Best of luck to all you brave LDR-ers!