You are in love but standing at the crossroads, stuck in a dilemma on which path to choose. Long distance relationships. We all have heard a fair share of good and not-so-good endings, and you wonder whether it is something worth trying for.
This feeling and the unending doubts running through your mind drain you. You are not alone. I have been there. My LDR journey lasted 3.5 years and spanned over 7962 miles – one living in Singapore while one studied in Canada. Now, we are back in the same country and journeying towards our eighth year together. Here are some pointers you can look out for to help you survive through this striving period.
Let’s crack through the nutshell. LDR takes more than just falling in love. LDR is making a conscious decision to commit. It is making sacrifices, dying to your own doubts, emotions and coming to an understanding that both of you are two different individuals with a common goal. It is about compromises and more importantly, learning to love unselfishly.
No one is a perfect lover but I can safely say that I've gained so much through this 3.5 years of LDR.
1. Set your common goal
The first and most important step is to allay the fears and uncertainties both of you are harbouring inside. Have a talk and face the fears together.
Give your partner and yourself a moment to put aside all "what-ifs", instead focus on where and when do you plan to reunite again. Here are some useful topics you can talk about. Are you both serious about making this relationship work? Which country are you planning to settle down after the work/ studies/ task is completed? How often are you going to travel and meet each other?
Keep it simple; it is the heart that matters. Bear in mind to respect each other's point of view. The key is to find a common goal.
2. Keep the communication going!
It is important to keep the communication going over the distance but overdoing it or a lack of it can raise the red flag. The frequency of communication may vary for different LDR couples. Some LDR couples would video call daily, while some others prefer to text every day and call/ video call once or twice a week. Find the frequency that both of you are comfortable with and stick to it.
There are bound to be times when this communication pattern falls short. Perhaps one party is unable to stay up and wait for the call because he/she is feeling tired from the hectic schedule. That is when understanding has to step in. Avoid jumping to conclusions and letting your mind make all the assumptions or judgements. Do not base that absent call as a measure of his love for you, instead think about those other times he has made an effort for this long-distance relationship.
It is crucial to keep each other updated about your individual lives in order to build trust. Try to maintain a fun and positive tone during the calls. Even at times when both of you have nothing to talk about anymore, do not get upset. Put down the phone, wish each other well/goodnight then proceed to do something productive. That way, you will have more things to share about during the next call.
3. Be patient and understand that both of you are different
This was probably the hardest to learn and accept. Personally, being the one who is more emotional in the relationship, I could not understand why he does not seem to put in equal weights into the relationship, such as opening up to share as much or taking the initiative to do something sweet. Though differences exist, I appreciated his stand and honesty that he is not a person who would express love in the same manner as I would.
Find out how your partner expresses love. It may not be outward expression through gifts or words but it could be more subtle ways such as showing consistency to be there to listen to you. Always be patient. Give each other the opportunity to express their feelings/ resentments/ disagreements when there is a need to talk things out. Both of you should be coming from the position of wanting the best for the relationship when sorting out the differences. Learn when you should give each other space to be alone.
4. Keep yourself busy
A healthy relationship involves maintaining a healthy balance in life. Get involved outside. Join a community that helps you grow as a person and contribute to others. LDR is an excellent opportunity for you to grow as an individual! Pick up new skills and hobbies, work hard in your job, get a promotion, exercise, read inspirational books, hang out with friends, and spend quality time with family. Your life can still be amazing.
5. Make an effort to do something thoughtful for one another once in a while
Spice up the relationship. This can be as simple as a longer phone call when both of you are free. It could be a simple card/ post to show appreciation. As you do this, bear in mind point 3 (He may not reciprocate in the same way or the way you want him to). However, do it to let your partner know that you miss him and that you are there for him at the end of the day.
6. Travel to meet (if possible)
Isn't this the most exciting part of LDR? You get to travel to another country to be with each another to explore new places and cultures! Make plans to visit if possible.
Sharing from experience, do not start to picture everything like what you see in movies where it's all sweet and rosy when you meet overseas/reunite. Manage expectations.
When you meet overseas, chances are you will be spending almost 24 hours a day together and the trip would probably extend for a couple of weeks. Back to point 3, both of you are different and you may still need space alone to do your own things. For instance, he loves playing video games, let him do it and know that he will still spend some time to bring you out to do the things you like. Learn to split the time up for a better balance, compromise and make the best out of the trip!
When you are able to compromise and understand, you will receive more joy than trying to change a person to meet your expectations. Appreciate what you have, learn to communicate and choose to love fully. When you've given it all, you'll have nothing to lose.