Experiences / Tips & Advice / Travel

What You Should Think About Before Starting a Long Distance Relationship

 

SF at night in plane

The beautiful view of SF as I left Thursday night.

Hello, Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. 🙂

I spent mine in sunny LA, enjoying the newly opened Dunkin’ Donuts in Santa Monica, seeing a show at Second City, meeting some amazing people, reconnecting with some old friends, and spending time with my boyfriend who calls Los Angeles home. Of course, we made sure to have some downtime, too, and spent yesterday evening drinking champagne and making a pizza with a French fry crust (yes it really happened, and it was so. good.). We always try to find a balance between going out and relaxing when we see each other in person, because our time together is limited and usually crammed into a weekend. It can be challenging!

A good friend of mine recently told me how impressed he is with how well my guy and I make it work. I’m busy just living my life day-to-day so I overlook it a bit, but it’s true — it’s been almost a year and a half, and the fact that our relationship is happy and healthy is actually pretty awesome! It’s not a perfect relationship, but what is? Every one has its own unique problems.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: long-distance is hard. Like, really, crazy difficult. The biggest challenge I’ve found is that it’s emotionally exhausting. The goodbye’s, not being able to comfort each other during tough times, and getting the sense that everything is “2 steps forward, 1 step back” every time we see each other…it’s draining. One of the big allures of being in a relationship is that you have a sense of security, and that is much more of a challenge long distance.

That said, I really do enjoy dating long distance for lots of reasons — I fill up my schedule based on what I want to do, I am undeniably independent, and (big plus!) I have a great excuse to travel regularly. Travel and LDRs go hand-in-hand. It’s always a treat to head down to LA for a weekend and have a change of pace, and the fact that I get to spend time with someone I care about makes it even better! Travel becomes a natural part of your life when seeing someone who lives far away.

I never thought I’d consider dating long distance, but I met someone, thought it through, and decided to give it a go. A lot of people are faced with a decision like this at some point. Maybe you’re out and about and meet someone great, are committed to someone and just got bit by the travel bug, or someone cool passed through your city and you’re staying in touch. Maybe your S.O. is considering taking a great learning opportunity in another location. Maybe you find yourself traveling for work a lot. My point is, contemplating a LDR is actually quite common! Here’s what you should think about before you start a long distance relationship.

 

What you should think about before starting a LDR

Before you consider a serious long-distance love, first make sure you’re at the right place in your life. If you’re particularly insecure, unhappy in many ways, or dealing with big life transitions, now may not the best time to start a serious romance, especially one that spans cities, states, or continents. You don’t have to have everything figured out (I certainly don’t!), but your life shouldn’t be utter chaos.

It will involve an element of risk as any relationship does, but you should feel grounded as a person and you should love yourself. Seriously, self-love is important. When you’re dating someone long distance, you need to be 100% comfortable flying solo a lot of the time. No matter what, a relationship is still comprised of two separate people, and if you’re trying to hide behind “we” and “us” instead of being and loving yourself, you need to figure out why that is.

I’m not ashamed to say that I am awesome and that I love myself. Can I be a bit flighty and a total pain in the ass sometimes? Yup! But loving myself isn’t declaring that I’m perfect — it’s accepting those flaws and letting my strengths shine through.

Also, as a side note, I would not recommend long-distance for someone young — teenagers especially, and even young 20s. If you told Teenage Theresa not to do something, she probably would have done it anyway just to piss you off or prove you wrong, so I might be getting nowhere with this tip. But there is just so much going on in your life at that time! It’s a total cliche, but those are your “selfish” years, and there’s no shame about that. You’re going to be changing rapidly, and if your significant other isn’t around for those changes (and/or they’re going through lots of changes themselves without you) you won’t be growing as a couple — you’ll just be growing separately, apart.

When I was 21 and living in New York, the two months I spent that summer out in San Francisco totally killed my relationship at that time. We’re talking complete relationship murder. I had become a different person in a matter of weeks and ended up feeling incompatible with my partner. I’m glad that things worked out the way they did in the end, but I think I could have saved myself a whole lotta trouble by allowing myself to experience that growth without the guilt, frustration, and anger I ended up feeling during that time.

French Fry Pizza

You wanna talk about love? This is a pizza with a crust made of French fries. ❤

Now this may seem silly, but you should definitely take a look at your schedule and budget. You’re going to be traveling to visit your gal or guy, so are you able to take the time and money to go regularly to see your boothang? Usually I can get flights to LA for relatively cheap, but if I’m especially strapped for cash I can always take a cheap-ass bus. This allows me to go down to SoCal about once a month, and he visits me with about the same frequency. That works for me. If I had to consider transportation to a different location (say, across the country, or even a different continent), I wouldn’t get to see my significant other nearly as often and I don’t know if I could handle that.

No matter how spectacular someone is, Skype can only do so much. I know what a terrible feeling it is to meet someone who is a great match for you and also lives thousands of miles away. But at a certain point you will want and need to see this person in person. And if you can’t afford to make that happen or if your schedule won’t allow it, then you may just be prolonging the heartache.

If you are pretty serious about getting serious, make sure you have a discussion about the rules and boundaries your relationship will have/has early on. One of the great things about dating is that you get to make it up, but if you don’t communicate with your partner about what is and isn’t okay for the relationship, then you could run into complications.

A close friend of mine insisted I clarify with my boyfriend as to whether we were exclusive shortly after we started dating. I understood that to be the case, but we’d only ever said we were dating, which can mean a lot of things to a lot of people — especially when it’s long distance. Some view it as monogamous, some think it’s okay to kiss other people but nothing more, some consider it okay to see other people as long as you don’t talk about, and the list goes on. Decide what works for you both and what you’re comfortable with. When I asked my boyfriend about whether we were exclusive, he assured me that he understood the same. But I am so glad we figured that out early on!

Me and bf photobooth photos

Coupla dorks.

I’d have to say that more than anything, with a long-distance relationship you must. communicate. well. When it comes down to what you want or need in the relationship, cut to the chase. Be prepared to be open and honest about anything and clearly state what you’re thinking about. No one can read your mind. If you’re expecting your significant other to figure out what is really bugging you or if you’re not able to open up emotionally, you will be miserable dating someone long distance.

I think dealing with that kind of crap in any relationship is insufferable, but it really makes long distance impossible. So much gets lost in translation as it is! You don’t have nearly as much body language to go off of and texts can be interpreted in numerous ways, resulting in big misunderstandings. Avoid the drama and be brave enough to speak truthfully.

And last but not least, be honest with yourself. Ultimately you’ll know deep down if you’re serious about pursuing it and maintaining it and if it’s what you really want for yourself. The idea of a long distance love is seemingly romantic, but LDRs require a lot of extra effort sometimes and can be incredibly tiring. But, just like any relationship, they can also be healthy and completely and wonderfully phenomenal.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with long distance relationships! Have you ever been in one or considered one? What were your deciding factors for going through with it, or not? How far apart were you from this person? What have you learned from your relationships that span many miles (whether they’re romantic relationships or just friendships!)?

Photo credits:
Death to the Stock Photo
moi

6 thoughts on “What You Should Think About Before Starting a Long Distance Relationship

  1. Love this! I have always admired people who can do LDRs–It is simply not something I am capable of, because I have an unfortunate combo of not communicating well (enough), being (too) insecure, and not meeting the right person to make it work. This is a great series of tips though!! ❤

    • Thank you! And it’s great that it’s something you know you wouldn’t want — that’s important. It’s wonderful that you’re honest with yourself about what you want, because not everyone is like that!

  2. I’m at the beginnings of an LDR myself and while it’s going amazingly well, it is hella difficult. I’m based in the Philippines and he’s based in Malaysia – thank heavens for the same time zone though haha. I completely agree with your tips, and it’s always encouraging to see others out there doing the same thing who are making it work. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Wanderlinks 2.4.15 | Tremendous Times

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