For nine years, separated by thousands of miles, my now husband (Vini) and I cultivated our friendship and eventual relationship through online platforms like MSN*, emails, Orkut**, Facebook, etc. In 2016, we got married and brought the long-distance to an end for good. No seriously, I think the years of distance traumatized us so that, now that I think about it, we haven’t spent a full 24hrs apart in almost 4 years of marriage!
The truth about long-distance relationships
Long-distance is just terrible. It’s also wonderful. There are moments of excruciating heart-torn-out-of-your-chest pain, but it also teaches you that the level of sadness you feel is the same level of happiness you can experience.
Hiding the Crazy: Social media offers a highlight reel. We can edit photos, angle the camera to show the clean half of the room, polish our texts, consult Google to help us come off smarter, etc. It’s also easy to project and interpret a written text to say what we would like it to say. We create unrealistic expectations to the point we risk creating a relationship that is better online than in real life.
Missing Out: In most cases, the distance will mean outside factors (ticket prices, work and school schedules, etc.) dictate when you can see each other. This often means not being there for every anniversary, birthday, graduation, or other milestones.
The Distance: Being far apart can present a host of difficulties, including time differences. Time zones force you to schedule conversations for a time when you’re both available/awake. And sometimes, when you most need to talk, vent, or reassurance from your significant other, they aren’t there, simply because they cannot be.
Room for Personal Development: Distance can be a healthy and useful tool for a relationship, especially when both parties are young. Being your own person is crucial to a long-lasting relationship, and LDRs give you the opportunity to explore who you are and increase your self-awareness.
“I’m a very independent person, and relationships can get overwhelming so LDRs give me the distance and space I need.”Xenia P. (@xeniiiia)
Appreciation: Because you can’t be there for every milestone, every moment together is special. For the sake of appreciating your time together (something you’ve spent weeks wishing for), you get so much better at picking your battles. Not everything is worth bickering over. Sometimes it’s okay to let things go. You won’t have the luxury to make up in person later.
“When we’re together we have the best talks ever. Almost zero time for [arguing]!”Giovane C. (@giovane_calado)
Leaning on Jesus: When you have a bad day, but your significant other is already asleep or at work, tell Jesus. When something wonderful happens and you’re spilling joy, but your significant other is not there to listen, tell Jesus. Use these moments to strengthen your relationship with Christ. Use discernment. Take it to the best Relationship Counselor and no one else. Make this a habit and reap its benefits.
“They [LDRs] are a challenge but help build a solid foundation if done right.”Jessica S. (@xojessicasevert)
Long-distance relationship tips
Find yourself first: Don’t look for someone to complete you. You should be able to be happy on your own before you enter any relationship, but especially a long-distance one.
“It only works well if both people are genuinely happy about where they are, or both have something exciting in their life. It is really hard if one person wishes they were in the other place and has nothing where they are that brings joy to their life.”Brittany R. (@brittyroe)
Have a goal to look forward to: Long distance doesn’t work that well for casual relationships. Set short term goals for when you will see each other again. Suffering is tolerable if you can keep the end in sight and count down. Then make long term goals. Will you be married someday? Will one of you move? Who? When? Establishing and clarifying these goals early on is fundamental to “making it”.
True Communication: You will need to hone your communication skills. You might spend plenty of time talking about the mundane, but you will also have deep conversations that build trust and set a foundation for a durable relationship.
“Communication is key…that really means leave nothing to assumption or interpretation. Talk in a REAL way.”Dayna R. (@dayna_riley)
“Trust and dialogue are fundamental.”Sarah C. (@sarah_carnevalli)
Talk to people + Observe: Seek out the people near your significant other who can give a truthful report of their character. You are precious. You are loved. You are worthy of the best. Your time is valuable. LDRs require investment. Make sure you are investing wisely.
Talk to that person’s pastor, listen to advice, observe how that person treats other people. How does he treat the other women in his life? That’s a good indicator of how he will treat you. What do their family relationships look like? That may be a good indicator of how they’d like your future family to be. Are there any family issues that may cast a shadow into your relationship?
Observe with God-given prudence, not an infatuated gaze.
Find someone with a similar background to yours: We are all individuals with unique experiences, but a relationship where both individuals have had similar life experiences often has a smoother path. Vini and I both have siblings and are both the eldest child. Our families had similar financial backgrounds and attitudes towards money, similar family structure, and similar attitudes towards the principles within our faith.
These core similarities helped avoid obstacles faced by many newly-weds.
This is not to say relationships where each individual comes from a completely different background is doomed to failure. Considerable differences can always be overcome with God’s grace. The main thing is that both parties be aware of the differences and are united in efforts to respect and resolve them.
Pray: The closer you get to God, the closer you will get to each other. If this is not the person for you, trust He has something better planned. If this is the person for you, deepening your relationship with God will only make your relationship stronger.
“Talk a lot and pray as if your future depended on it…because it actually does.”Giovane C. (@giovane_calado
My husband and I will have been married for four years this summer. I still catch myself looking over at him sometimes and saying in happy disbelief, “Goodness, I get to be with you forever now!” Those years apart taught me to not take a single day together for granted. After years of wishing to be near him without a good-bye looming overhead, every cuddle, hug, face-to-face conversation, milestone, and even the difficulties we face together are that much sweeter.
“It’s all worth it.”Bethany M. (@bethanylm)
Just give it a chance.
*an early version of a messenger app, but on our computers because we didn’t even have smartphones back then…can you imagine?!
**a social media platform, contemporary of MySpace and Facebook that is now long gone.