There’s a general consensus out there that long-distance relationships just don’t work. They’ll coast for a few months before meeting an untimely end, usually in the form of some throwaway text message or phone call. And the inevitable fallout — a loud chorus of “I told you so” — roars mightily in your head until you can’t help but agree and wonder, really, what the heck were you thinking?
But the general consensus is by no means gospel, as millions who have successfully endured long-distance love will attest. Making the best of a situation that’s not ideal all comes down to one key factor: You must both share the common goal of making one another a priority.
Loosely translated, that means developing a level of commitment that subsists on more than just a fledgling hope that it might last. Truth be told, there’s no room in a long-distance courtship for doubt — and any doubt that exists must be eliminated fairly early on. Lack of trust is an instant deal-breaker in any relationship, but its ramifications on a partnership that relies primarily on phone calls and text messages can be doubly damaging.
Making the best of the situation is really contingent on your respective behaviors. Make a concentrated effort to really engage in each other’s lives. This goes beyond simple “tell me about your day” phone calls and extends to even greater emphasis on deep communication.
“It’s helpful to involve your significant other in your life as much as possible,” says Jodie Teller, who has been in a long-distance relationship for a year. “Set a routine of some kind, whether it’s calling each other first thing in the morning or talking at the end of the day for an hour or two. And Skype is a huge lifesaver that keeps us from going crazy when we don’t see each other for months.”
Of course, seeing each other at some point is imperative. “If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you better make time to visit your partner a lot,” says The Love Guru Blaire. “Long-distance relationships are good in the fact that you get to practice your communication, but terrible because your relationship is in a bubble.”
Indeed, sharing really is caring when it comes to long-distance relationships since certain little habits and nuances go unnoticed when two people don’t physically see each other regularly. “There’s no such thing as sharing too much, really,” adds Teller. “I’ll tell him about what I had for breakfast or vent to him about something at work or just talk about nothing important at all. It’s a good balance of serious and silly, which makes us feel really solid with each other.”
That balance holds greater validity when you’re able to anticipate seeing your significant other in person. “Real life happens when you two are together,” says Blaire. “When you interact in person. When you experience life in person. When you see how he treats you in person.”
Random acts of kindness seem to mean more when distance is a factor, too. Lifestyle and sex expert Jennifer Lee says, “It’s very traditional to send flowers. People forget that women like to be surprised with flowers, or other little surprises, outside of major commercial holidays.”
She also encourages the art of penmanship when you can’t be together. “It’s so nice to write long, handwritten letters,” she suggests. “Technology has consumed so much of our lives these days that people have forgotten about old-school romance and tradition. It’s almost like opening a present! You never know what’s inside.”
Along with sweet gestures and meaningful conversations, there’s a certain benefit that long-distance relationships hold claim to; longevity. Once the distance becomes less of a chore, once it becomes clear that two individuals share a commitment to each other and to the hard work involved in making that distance manageable, it also becomes obvious that this couple can probably handle just about anything that comes their way.
Finally, realize that there should be some sort of end goal in sight. “It’s nice to be all sweet, loving and romantic when you are far away from one another,” says Blaire. “But it’s real life that matters.” When both individuals strive toward something in particular, be it moving in together or getting married and starting a family, the odds are stacked heavily in their favor. And there’s nothing better than sharing that kind of bond with someone — no matter how far apart you are.