Going the Distance

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. After personally being in a long-distance relationship for a fair amount of time, I’m starting to think there may be some truth to that statement. With long-distance relationships becoming a common reality, especially among university students, I’d also wager that I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

I do still experience the eyebrow raises, the looks of concern, and the “Woah…how does that work?” responses when the topic comes up in conversation. Many people still aren’t willing to approach long-distance dating with open minds and automatically assume that a long-distance relationship will inevitably go up in flames. I’ll be the first to admit that navigating long-distance is hard. It’s really difficult to be away from someone you care about and it’s easy to have days where you feel discouraged or lonely. Despite what people may expect, going long-distance doesn’t have to result in the downfall of your relationship. The truth is that nothing is guaranteed in any relationship, whether it’s long-distance or not, so why not give it a shot and pursue something you believe in?

There are some things that you have to think about in more detail than you would with a typical relationship. Establishing trust sets the foundation for a healthy long-distance relationship, but it takes time and effort to maintain. It means being willing to open yourself up, fully and honestly, and knowing that your partner will listen without judgement (and vice versa). It also means respecting the time they spend away from you. It can be easy to let your imagination run away from you on occasions when you don’t get a text response for longer than usual or if a Facetime call isn’t picked up; but you’re both living separate lives and fulfilling schedules made busy with work, school, and other commitments. It’s unrealistic, even in relationships that aren’t long-distance, to expect to hold their attention all the time. 

This isn’t to say, however, that making time for your relationship isn’t important. Setting time aside to prioritize the other person, even with your busy schedules, gives you a sense of commitment that helps you feel connected despite the miles of separation.  

When expectations about your relationship are made clear, it’s much easier to establish a mutual understanding and avoid miscommunication. Having a game plan about how often you want to Facetime and whether you want to text throughout the day keeps both of you on the same page. Regardless of how often you keep in contact, I’ve found that sharing things that are happening in your life, even things you might not consider worth mentioning, helps you feel closer. Whether they are also pursuing a degree, or they are living under completely different circumstances, it’s nice to share the smaller-scale highs and lows of your day as well as the big events. Knowing when you will visit each other next is also helpful because it gives you something concrete to look forward to and makes the stretches that you’re apart seem more manageable. 

Although there are unavoidable difficulties and hard work that come with the dynamic of being in a long-distance relationship, there are also some silver linings. Seeing your partner in person is so much more meaningful; being apart makes you realize how valuable your time spent together is and you’re much less likely to take it for granted. Being apart also allows you to grow individually. People often fall into the habit of shaping themselves around their relationship, but being long-distance allows you to develop your relationship while also gaining independence and refining your own values. Maybe the most comforting thing about being long-distance is that it reinforces the strength of your relationship in that you know that you and your partner are both committed to getting through the difficult aspects in order to make the most of the good.

Above all, navigating a long-distance relationship takes effort, specifically equal effort, to last. Even through all the challenges, any relationship that is built upon mutual respect and compassion is 100% worthwhile.