I never said to myself “I think I’d like to be in a long distance relationship.” I don’t think anyone does. But sometimes, things just happen. Last summer I took a trip to Israel expecting to take in some historical sites, learn more about my background, and get a nice tan while I was at it. I definitely didn’t expect to end up in a cross-border long distance relationship with a guy from Ohio, but as I said, things happen. Making the decision to start dating wasn’t an easy one. We knew that it would be tough, but we were both willing to try. It’s been a year and two months since then; a year and two months full of long Skype calls, even longer Greyhound trips and many explanations to confused friends (“Wait, so does he live in Israel?”). But we’ve managed to make it work, and you can too. Here are five tips to make your long distance romance a little easier.
1. Skype is your friend. You can text or call or Facebook message each other all you want, but it is really important to have face-to-face communication. If you don’t, it might start to feel like you’re in a relationship with your phone, and that’s just weird. You don’t have to Skype every day, or even every other day. Go by what feels right to you. If you are starting to forget what they look like, then maybe it’s time to set up a Skype date.
2. Trust. This seems like an obvious requirement for any kind of relationship, but it becomes a million times more important when you throw distance into the equation. Think about it. They could be doing anything while you’re away. If that idea makes you really anxious, then maybe you need to work on building more trust. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling or what you’re doing, and expect the same openness in return.
3. Plan ahead. It really helps to know when the next time you’re going to see them is. It’s also nice to occasionally plan special trips or outings together, or even just talk about the fun things you’re going to do when you meet up. That way, you’re looking forward to the next time you get to see them instead of just moping over how much you miss them (which is okay once in a while too).
4. Equal effort. This means that both people have to actually care about talking to one another and making plans. If you’re always the one that has to initiate the conversation, you start to wonder: “Am I just being really annoying?” That may be the case, but it’s most likely just a sign that you need better communication. Tell them how you feel and make a compromise. That way, nobody is left feeling forgotten, or alternately, smothered by phone calls and texts.
5. Don’t listen to ‘Transatlanticism’ by Death Cab for Cutie. Seriously. Unless you are really in the mood to curl up in a ball on your floor and sob along to Ben Gibbard crooning “I need you so much closer”, just don’t do it.
Remember, being in a long distance relationship isn’t easy. It’s okay if you miss them a lot. It’s alright if you occasionally feel like punching that cutesy couple cuddling in front of you in line at the grocery store (as long as you don’t follow through on those feelings). But they can also be a great experience. They allow a couple to learn a lot about each other, and they allow you to really appreciate the time you get to spend together. If you think it’s worth it, then give it a try. Your relationship may last a lifetime, or it may only last a week. But at the very least, you won’t be stuck wondering: “What if…?”