If you’re reading this, you and your significant other may be considering a long distance relationship. You might be thinking: Can a long distance relationship work for 3 years? Or 4 years, 5 years…or even longer?
I can tell you, from personal experience, that the answer is a resounding yes! However, it takes a lot of effort, hard work, and sacrifice from both people.
Should we do long distance in the first place?
There may come a time in your relationship where you need to be physically apart for a while. Maybe one of you has to travel to another state or country to attend school. Perhaps one of you has to move away for a job opportunity.
Whatever the case, before starting a long distance relationship, it’s absolutely crucial that:
- You’re both on the same page, and
- you share the same desire for a happy future together.
If both of you don’t share the same level of commitment and need for connection, that can result in a one-sided relationship. Those feelings will magnify given enough time and distance between the two of you.
Before the day comes, both you and your partner should find a quiet, comfortable space with each other. During that time, communicate your feelings about starting a journey like this.
Some questions you can ask each other can include:
- How long will we do long distance for?
- What’s the time difference?
- When will we reunite? (Super important!)
- How do you feel about doing something like this?
- Is there anything you’re worried about with us doing this?
- Is there anything you want me to do or not do while we’re apart?
- How can we stay in touch?
- Do you want me to take care of anything while you’re gone?
It’s not an easy undertaking, but at the end of it your relationship will feel stronger than ever.
When I first met my wife, we were both teaching English in a foreign country. We had a great time, but decided that we wanted to return home.
The problem was that we lived in different countries—she lived in the U.S., and I lived in Australia.
At the time, we knew that we didn’t want to leave one another. However, we were committed to putting in the effort and patience to eventually be together again.
So, in the weeks leading up to our separation, we sat down and discussed our relationship. We discussed our expectations, our goals, our dreams, and reaffirmed our commitment to each other.
It was a brutal, difficult, and emotional conversation. Tough questions came up, like, “Why do you feel like you have to leave?” and “Can you come to live with me in my country?”
I’m glad we brought it all out into the open. It would’ve been even harder to start his conversation with a whole ocean between us.
Up until the last day, we were comfortable in our commitment to each other. We were ready to say goodbye. Well, as ready as we possibly could be!
How can I make it work?
These particular steps really helped see me and my wife through our own long distance relationship, and marriage, and eventual reunion.
If you want more information, you can check out this post: How To Start The First Few Months Of A Long Distance Relationship.
Set up a routine
When we both lived apart, we had a time difference of anywhere between 15 to 17 hours. As my day was ending, hers was beginning, and the end of her day was around my lunch time.
So, to ensure that we kept in touch with each other regularly, we’d set up a routine. I’d try and stay up in the evenings to chat with her in the morning, and I’d take my lunch break to chat with her while she was having dinner.
Most weekends we’d spend time together either watching movies or TV shows, reading to each other, or other activities.
We’d both still have enough time to spend with family and friends, and we would prioritize our relationship or our lives as necessary.
The key thing was that there was a routine, and we could live and coordinate our lives around that routine. It gave us a sense of normalcy and maintained our emotional connection to each other.
Don’t limit yourselves to just one method of communication
While we were living apart, we didn’t limit ourselves to just voice and video calls.
We live in an age where national and international communication is as simple as downloading an app and connecting with our loved ones.
There are so many great apps available for you to connect with your loved one regularly, and it can be fun to mix it up every once in a while.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of sending physical letters and cards. Postage and materials aren’t too expensive, and receiving something in the mail can be a great morale boost.
Be open and honest
When you start long distance, gone are the days when you wait for the other person to notice you’re upset.
When my wife and I were apart, we didn’t have the luxury of just glossing over the small stuff. In a long distance relationship, things get magnified.
I had to take a deep breath and tell her that something was bothering me, and I needed her time and attention to sort it out.
And on top of that, she would freely offer that time, just as I would for her.
It got to the point where we could sense that something was wrong, and we’d call it out straight away. It stopped those feelings from festering and grow into something worse.
Long distance takes away a huge amount of non-verbal communication between you and your partner. You’ll both need to work especially hard to ensure that you can be open, honest, and genuine with each other.
Visit each other as much as you can
Long distance relationships mean that you’re both apart for most of the time…but it shouldn’t be for all of the time!
Yes, cost and time can be an issue when it comes to travelling. Especially if you both find yourselves in an international long distance situation.
However, I consider it extremely helpful for long distance couples to try and see each other at least every three to six months.
Being apart for extremely long periods of time can take a toll on even the strongest relationship. The longest my wife and I were apart was 14 months, and it was honestly one of the toughest things we had to go through.
So do your best to save up and visit each other as regularly as you can.
Will we grow apart?
Statistically speaking, long distance relationships have a fairly high failure rate at 40%. However, frequent communication and visits can greatly improve your chances of staying together.
Every relationship is different, and every relationship is subject to stress. It will take effort from both you and your partner to nurture and maintain your relationship.
I’m really worried about how we’re going to turn out!
I get it. You may be feeling like there are so many things out of your control, and you don’t know what to expect. One suggestion is thinking about short-term goals in the meantime.
When my wife and I were about to start long distance, we had absolutely no idea how we were going to turn out. All we knew was that we were going to move back to our home countries, commit to keeping in touch regularly, and plan a visit within the next six months.
And that was it! We didn’t even set an end date, talk about who would move where, what we’d do for jobs afterwards…nothing of the sort. In hindsight, we definitely could have planned it all much better.
But we were in love, and all we had was those initial short-term goals in place to reach for. They kept us going until I flew over to visit her.
When we reunited again, we had those tough conversations again, and talk about what to tackle next. It might have been about our careers, or about visas, or whatever it was that was an obstacle to us being together forever.
And with every Skype call and message we sent each other, we slowly figured out how we were going to be reunited. Those talks led me to the career I’m still in today…
…and to my proposal to her…
…and to our marriage…
…and to me moving to her country…
…and to us expecting the birth of our baby boy!
The point is, it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers just yet. You will need them eventually, though. But it’s fine if you don’t have absolutely everything planned and mapped out.