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Plenty of people agree that long distance relationships don’t work out. We’ve all heard the saying: “Long-distance relationships don’t work out”. In Puerto Rico, there are also plenty of sayings to delegitimize these relationships: “Amor de lejos, amor de pendejos” and “Amor de lejos, los cuatro somos felices”. It’s an idea that has been so universally accepted that couples are often afraid of long-distance relationships. However, with technology on the rise and communication becoming easier than ever, both men and women have found unique ways to keep close to their beloved and grow despite the distance. 

As someone currently in a long-distance relationship myself, both my boyfriend (Joe) and I have a lot of shared experiences and tips when it comes to maintaining our close bond. I currently live in Puerto Rico, while he lives in Michigan! We put together a list of helpful information that we’ve found has not only maintained our relationship, but strengthened it in every way.

Gift Giving

Joe: This may seem like a strange piece of advice to start off with, but this is actually quite an important aspect of an LDR. When you have something that you can hold in your hand that you’ve received from your loved one, it is a constant reminder that they truly do exist inside your world. Simply put, it reminds you of them. While it may require some time and thought, what better way to show that you care than a personalized or thought-filled gift for your special someone? Trust me. Gifts are huge.

Aimar: Most girls love gift giving, and it’s a really beautiful way to demonstrate your affection towards your partner. DIY gifts are my specialty; I certainly recommend these types of gifts because you can personalize anything to your own taste and make your own story come alive. It’s something meaningful that both you and your partner will remember forever. 

Trust

J: If you’ve been in your long-distance relationship for even a little while, I’m sure you’ve heard that trust is key. Well, it’s more than key: it’s essential. Don’t get jealous of your man or woman just because they’re out having fun with their friends. Odds are, most of the time they’re thinking about you! Be protective of them without jumping to conclusions, and be at ease that they love you and trust you in return.

A: Jealousy could be a pretty hard monster to tame for some people, but it’s really not that difficult at all. When the foundation of your relationship is built on trust and communication, jealousy will never get the better of you. When you know that your partner trusts you and loves you just as much as you trust and love him, you will be able to feel a serene peace in knowing that everything will be alright. Of course, this comes with the “package deal” of each of your own values that makes you the person who you are. You can always be protective of your loved one, but always in a healthy way.

Effort

J: Whenever someone tells me that my long-distance relationship isn’t going to work out (which, trust me, happens a lot), my response is always: “If you put in the effort, you can do anything”. I’ll never forget the giddiness that Aimar and I felt when we first started dating. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we also knew that being with each other someday was worth everything. No one is denying that long-distance is tough no matter your circumstance, but sacrifice won’t feel like sacrifice once you truly commit to your partner and devote everything to them. Love knows no bounds, and this is no exception.

A: With effort comes commitment and with commitment comes sacrifices. Long-distance relationships can seem hard to maintain the effort, but if you really love that special person, you will do anything and everything in your power to put in the effort needed for your relationship to thrive. Schedule dates in your agenda to go out (Skype dates! They are totally awesome, if you ask me), even if you have to sacrifice a day of hanging out with your friends, you have to know your priorities. I remember when Joe and I scheduled our Valentine’s date through Skype and we had both sent gifts through mail, dressed up, and had dinner like any normal couple with our computers in front of us. It was a lovely night filled with fun, deep, and lovely conversations that I will never forget.

Space

J: A dear friend once told me that while maintaining her and her husband’s long-distance relationship before they got married, they sent each other one message a day. One. Message. Now, this really isn’t something that I’m recommending (although I’m sure this works for some people), but her message was quite clear: don’t smother your partner! If you’re sending each other text and snaps every five minutes throughout the day or even calling each other every night, it takes away from the special time that you get to spend with one another. Make each moment that you have unique, spaced out, and special, and it will never get dull.

A: DO NOT be all over your partner, even if you’re far away. That could potentially ruin your relationship, making yourself look like a “needy” person. It’s always good to give your partner space in whatever they do. In my case, whether he’s busy, working on school projects, or just spending time with family and friends, it’s good for your partner to have some quality time with the things he has to do or his dream projects, and with you being there to support him in every way. Sending good morning messages and texting with a decent amount of time in between messages makes it healthy for your partner to miss you (as you will miss him too) and when the day is done, recount interesting facts that happened to you throughout the day as your partner recounts his/her part, delving into long, sweet, and memorable conversations. Of course, this varies from relationship to relationship. You just have to figure out what you need!

Patience

J: Some people struggle with this more than others, but everyone has to deal with it from time to time. Whether it be rescheduled calls or helping your partner with homework, the fact that you’re showing patience will mean so much to them. Show that you aren’t in this just for the fun times or the easy times, but also for the tougher times. Relationships shine the most during frustrating times of your life, so make the most of them by showing patience and putting on a smile.

A: Patience is key. No matter how much your selfish self wants all of your SO only for yourself, you have to learn the gift of patience, especially in a long-distance relationship. If you have to reschedule any Skype calls or any date you had planned because something happened on your partner’s end, be understanding and let him know that it’s okay to reschedule but that you will still be there if he needs any help at all. If I had all the money in the world, I would be buying airplane tickets to visit Joe all the time, but there’s also something that money can’t buy: the connection that comes with being patient, and the loving encounter when you haven’t been with your SO for a long period of time.

Fun

J: Have fun! Most likely you and your partner have at least a few things in common; use these commonalities to your advantage by coming up with fun and creative ways to spend time with each other! Aimar and I are both gamers, so we sometimes take turns showing each other our favorite games through Skype’s screen share function or even by playing them together. We also watch anime (Attack on Titan being our favorite) and listen to music together through Spotify’s shared playlists, and tell stories, and the list goes on and on. Think of some fun way to spend time together, instead of always talking about the same boring old things.

A: Fun! Games! Love! Everything comes together when you have good and fun memories that you can look back on one day. Either it be playing video games, watching a movie, watching your favorite TV shows, listening to music, or working on a project together, you will be able to strengthen your bond and will notice that time really does fly by, making the moment to reunite come in the snap of a finger. Also, sending goofy or cute pictures to each other – Snapchat being one of my favorite platforms – can also contribute to the memories that you’ll have as you build them up, always together.

Visits

J: I know that all you want to do is visit your love twice a month and at every opportunity that you can, but trust me: they don’t mind waiting. They really don’t! While money shouldn’t be the focus in any kind of relationship, long-distance is sadly expensive. But it’s always worth the wait. Plan trips smartly and safely, and they’ll realize that you too are willing to wait to hold them in their arms again.

A: Visits may be one of the hardest things to plan out, especially when your loved one is hours away in a different country. Financial problems may arise sometimes but it’s never impossible. Just save money and plan out a trip to your SO’s location with months ahead of time. If you can plan trips every 3-4 months and stay a week or more with your partner, that would be perfect.

Standards

J: Talk with your partner. Be open about what you want from this relationship. Decide what boundaries the two of you will follow in this new part of your life, especially when it comes to seeing each other in person. Aimar and I decided long ago to remain celibate until we are married, as we think this will greatly benefit our future together (I know, crazy, right??). Despite the temptations, we hold to that decision, and we always will. I’m not saying that everyone needs to stick to this particular moral to succeed, but simply being open about what you and your partner should and shouldn’t do together is key to any form of relationship. Hold each other to these promises, and support each other through it all.

A: There has to be standards in any type of relationship for it to also succeed in a healthy way. Sometimes, you might be afraid to communicate your standards because of what your partner might think of them, but nonetheless it is important to communicate them for you both to be comfortable inside the arms of your love and for your partner to know what makes you comfortable and what doesn’t. The way that you can communicate with them is when you’re both in a good mood in a place where it’s just the two of you, then leading in sweetly into the conversation. You don’t have to be completely serious about it; just be sure to communicate your thoughts in a sweet and understanding way. 

Communication

J: Surprise! Communication is important. Yeah. It’s probably the most important thing to an LDR, next to trust. It actually ties into every single thing that we’ve previously discussed, as none of these other tips will help without communication. Never hide anything from your loved one. If something is on your mind, don’t hold back or be afraid to talk about it with them. Love is giving, so they want to discuss these things with you. Believe me, Aimar has to remind me of this all the time! So, in short, be clear about anything and everything whenever you talk to your love.

A: Just like patience is key, communication is also key to a healthy and long relationship. Not just in an LDR but also in any kind of relationship, whether it be with your family members or just your loved one. If you have any overthinking thoughts on what your partner might think of this or that, don’t be afraid of communicating them with him because your SO wants the best for you. He wants you to be comfortable with him, and the most important thing of all: he wants you to be happy. And that’s how it should be. If you are honest about your thoughts, your partner will also be honest about his.  

We can’t guarantee that this list will work for everyone, but as Joe and I have been dating for over a year now, I would say it’s working perfectly well for us. And the beautiful thing is that we will keep discovering all sorts of new ways to grow and share with one another, always overcoming the distance!

Aimar B. Galarza is an undergraduate English Literature student in the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus aspiring to become a future editor. She has a passion for anything to do with books, film, writing, music, and acting. She enjoys playing the piano and guitar and has also participated in various musicals as a dancer, singer, and actress, one of them being "Homeroom the Musical" which was presented in Ponce, Puerto Rico and later on presented in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Last but not least, she's also a voice actress on YouTube (AimyAngel) who's collaborated in fan dubs, audiobooks, and animated episodes.
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