Long distant relationships are an older concept of intimate relationships, older than you may think. However, the popularization of social media platforms and dating apps gave visibility to this form of relationships, raising questions such as:
- Is it possible to sustain an intimate relationship with someone on the other side of the world?
- What are the emotional costs of not having your partner by your side?
- What is your end goal? Have sex with someone from another country? Or build a life together?
- What is real, and what is future faking?
- Do you want to have a real relationship with this person, or this situation gives you the comfort of not having to deal with your partner’s needs? (Emotional unavailability).
- Are you ready to change your life to another country, firstly because you want and it will be good for your personal/ professional development, and secondly because you love your partner?
Talking about long-distance relationships is a completely different animal from geographically close relationships. Even though, in some cases, it might even be better.
Some defend that the absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the access to a global pool of potential suitors increases the chances to create blessed relationships in heaven, but talking about long-distance relationships is the equivalent to tame a wild animal. The level of emotional and financial investment is completely different from the level of investment if you lived close. Not because feelings are different, or because you love more in one situation than the other. But because you rely on technology, post mail, and airplane tickets to see your loved one as much as possible.
How can you sustain a long-distance relationship:
- Prioritize your schedules well because work or school schedules, and times zones, even the most well-intentioned couples can be affected when it comes to communication. Can you devote a private moment to have a conversation without getting distracted with other things? Who has a more flexible schedule? How often do you want to communicate during the day? Do you feel resentment or frustration when the patterns of communication with your partner don’t fulfill your emotional tank?
- Make sure your goals are common, and you both set up an endgame. You can’t live your relationship forever at a distance. So it makes sense to work together to overcome the hardship of being apart rather than waiting forever that the circumstances might change.
- Don’t rely only on technology to sustain your presence and your relationship. Send handwritten letters with your scent, an unexpected gift, or a box of delicious chocolates. Today, you can easily order gifts and items around the world to deliver to your partner in his country or city. Don’t be lazy.
- Focus on communication quality, included talking about boring stuff. No, you don’t have to share only the good stuff. You have to share everything with your partner and make sure that everything will remain inside the bubble couple. Our partner should be the first person to which we turn in times of need and joy.
- Don’t play games, and don’t put your life on hold. The worst thing you can do to your partner is to show him or her that you have other people interesting in you while he or she is doing the best to be close to you. This behavior isn’t only childish but also disrespectful for your partner, the relationship itself, and will open the door to unnecessary thoughts of suspiciousness about your true intentions about the relationship and your future together.
- Let yourself trust and earn that trust. More often than not, we associate sexual infidelity as the only way to breakdown and erode an intimate relationship. In reality, I would say the worst betrayal you can suffer is when your partner decides to leave when you are weak and emotionally vulnerable. The worst betrayal of all is when they no longer love you and string you along while waiting for someone better. Can you count on your partner in ways big and small? Do they listen in ways that make you feel heard and understood? Are they paying attention to what is important to you and not sharing your conversations with their family or friends without asking your permission? Are they being a partner worthy of having?
When, and why, it is time to end a long-distance relationship? If you carefully read this article, you might have the answer to this last question. A long-distance relationship should end when you feel in your gut there are too many words and not many actions. When the future faking is eroding your dreams, and you feel that your partner is giving you air, but not enough oxygen to survive. A long-distance relationship should end when it feels one-sided, or when your partner doesn’t involve himself or herself in this journey, and also the possibility that you will live in their country.
I was in a long-distance relationship for two years. For me, it was a leap of faith, but also another possibility to show and teach me how able I am to sustain a relationship and love. I didn’t start this relationship because I was hunting for a rich man or someone that could provide me a better life. I was all in because this is how I am. I was all in because a relationship is a relationship. And because love is love.
Why should we refrain ourselves when around the world exists so many possibilities? In the end, I felt betrayed? Yes, I felt! Not because he betrayed me with another woman, but because of his inability to tell me how he felt and want he wanted. Saying I love you, but I’m not in love with you, isn’t something that you should say to someone. Saying I am feeling good with our separation, and I am in a happy place, isn’t something that you should say when you know the other person is hurt.
Am I giving him a bad review? No! And I thank him for the two weeks of diarrhea that I had after our breakup. I thank him for the crying nights, the ruminating thoughts, and all the pain I felt.
Because with him, I felt that I was going to have a place to call home and a family. He was part of my life, part of my dream, and I had to mourn that part of my life and my dream when he decided to leave.
It is good to have the humility to understand that we know nothing about life, to know that every situation, and every person that crosses our lives, has a message to teach us. I am happy not because the relationship was over, but because he was the portal to the place where I will live very soon. And this, my dear readers, is the best gift you can receive from an intimate relationship with someone, the understanding of where you belong, and the resilience you have inside your heart to achieve your dreams.
My last advice for you? Don’t stop yourself from loving someone who lives distant, because distance doesn’t kill a relationship. What kills relationships is the lack of emotional maturity and the absence of skill set to be consistent and communicate needs properly.
“Be there” even when you can’t actually be there.
Thank you so much for all the contribution you are giving to my work here.
Dargie, E., Blair, K. L., Goldfinger, C., & Pukall, C. F. (2015). Go long! Predictors of positive relationship outcomes in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 41(2), 181-202.
Jennifer M. Belus, Kimberly Z. Pentel, Matthew J. Cohen, Melanie S. Fischer, and Donald H. Baucom. “Staying Connected: An Examination of Relationship Maintenance Behaviors in Long-Distance Relationships.” Marriage & Family Review 55, no. 1 (2019): 78-98.
Kaitlyn Goldsmith and E. Sandra Byers. “Maintaining long-distance relationships: comparison to geographically close relationships.” Sexual and Relationship Therapy (2018): 1-24.