Since I updated this blog of mine more than two months ago, I was busy preparing for one significant change in my life and dealing with its consequences. My ten-month-old long distance relationship (henceforth LDR) finally came to an end about 20 days ago, fortunately not because the relationship itself came to an end, but simply because it has stopped being long distance. Now my S/O lives in the same city where I live, and I can meet her every day.
When we started our LDR, we simply didn't know what to do and wondered if we could survive it as its obstacles seemed formidable. The first thing we did was to read together one of the guides to LDR available in the book market (in our case The Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide by Chris Bell & Kate Brauer-Bell) and start checking a peer support website called LDR Magazine. We've tried to learn what our predecessors had learned from their own LDR experiences and shared with newcomers to this seeming tribulation. We've learned a lot from the book and the website, but we've learned even more from our own LDR experience. So I've decided to share it as our two cents with others who might follow though I don't think such people would check such an obscure blog-shmog entry.
But before doing so, let me quote those passages from the above mentioned book that have inspired us and given hope and strength to us in our then unknown future:
- If your relationship is strong enough to make it through a period of long-distance, chances are it's strong enough to make it through a lot more.
- Happily married, we realize we might not have gotten to this point together had we not faced the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
- The nineteen months we spent dating long-distance taught us much more about relationships than we ever could have learned had we only dated in the same city. The skills we built in those months have made a lasting, positive impact on the relationship we have today. Long-distance dating was our secret to marriage success!
- Effective communication is undoubtedly one of the fundamental building blocks of successful long-distance relationships. Knowing how to communicate your emotional needs, relationship fears, and innermost dreams is an important skill for anyone involved in a dating relationship.
- Strong communication builds a bond and gives long-distance couples something to look forward to and enjoy between face-to-face meetings.
- If you experience feelings of insecurity or dissatisfaction with your relationship, you owe it to your partner to express those feelings calmly and in the spirit of problem solving. Likewise, if your partner expresses dissatisfaction or insecurity to you, you owe it to the relationship to hear him or her out without getting defensive or placing blame.
- In long-distance dating situations, commitment is particularly critical to relationship success, as it is the foundation for establishing effective time management. And without effective time management, the effort required to sustain a long-distance relationship can seem insurmountable.
- The time you get to spend in the same place can be extremely precious, and the way you spend that time is extremely important. However, "quality time" doesn't necessarily equate to doing anything special - some of the best quality time for couples is just spent in each other's company, looking into one another's eyes and talking about the things that matter most. And in long-distance dating, as in any dating relationship, the amount of time together is as important, if not more important, than the purposeful "quality" of that time. That's because a genuine, loving relationship with lasting potential will reveal itself in the ordinary moments of daily living.
- The decision to move for the sake of a relationship - to pick up your life, leave family and friends behind, and head to a new city - is a bold and daring act of love. It also requires great commitment. By the very act of moving, one partner is making a commitment to the other. That's why it's so important to make sure both partners have the same level of commitment before taking that life-changing step.
And here is a partial list of things we've done together and still consider extremely important to survive our ten-month-old LDR:
- To plan in a rather early stage of the LDR when and how to stop in so that one of us may move to the city where the other lives (uncertainly about (the present and especially) the future is one of the worst enemies of any LDR)
- To communicate daily by email and Skype (chat), sharing emotions and thoughts about each other and ourselves, including doubts and fears (we've exchanged about 1,000 email messages a month)
- To have an intercontinental meeting about once a month (and spend one week or so together every time) in one of the cities where we lived separately and cherish preparations, whether financial, physical or emotional, for each face-to-face meeting and the meetings themselves
- To study books about relationships together by setting aside a certain amount of time during daily Skype chats (the best books we've read and learned from together include 1000 Questions for Couples, 201 Great Discussion Questions for Couples in Long Distance Relationships, Essential Manners for Couples, Mars and Venus on a Date, and Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work in alphabetical order, of course, in addition to the above mentioned survival guide)
- To try to enjoy living alone away from each other, for example, by concentrating on work, doing physical exercises, meeting local friends
We wish good luck to every couple in an LDR and hope the time will also come to you soon when you'll be able to share your LDR experience with others.