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Can't Talk | September 22, 2020

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Intro To Long Distance Relationships

Intro To Long Distance Relationships

I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for more than a year now. It probably doesn’t set any records in either time or distance, but to me it’s a pretty big deal. The distance is almost as far as you can get and still be on the same continent, though. A non-stop, door-to-door drive would take 22 hours and 43 minutes, covering five states, and 2,455 kilometers (or 1,581 miles). My partner is worth it; she is truly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.

I could continue to gush about how amazing it is, go on about the plans we’ve made, how adorable we are when we are together and online, but what I think would be more helpful is a guide of some of the things I’ve learned that keep us going. As the internet and social media continue to shrink our world, relationships like this may become more commonplace. Since this has been so amazing for me, I want to help those out there that may be in similar situations and may not have any guidance or be able to turn to “skin space” friends because they wouldn’t understand.

Let’s start by validating the relationship. This 2014 article in “The Atlantic” from 2014 in reports that our mind responds to online interactions in the same way as face-to-face ones. “Online flirting is real flirting,” states the article.

So, your online relationship is real, and with communication technology as advanced as it is, things like Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts can help you  be face to face with your partner in real time as if you were in the same room. I expect that Samsung’s new VR system will further enhance this feeling, as well.

The best part about video calls (that we wouldn’t get from text-based social interactions) is body language. I’m sure we’ve all had something we’ve said online or in a text message get misinterpreted because there were a lack of vocal and visual cues.  We have evolved to rely on body language in our day-to-day interactions with others, so I urge you to find something that works for you both and to have all your important discussions via video call. Strong communication is the foundation of strong relationships, so by doing this you lower the possibility of being misunderstood. If you have a good data plan, perhaps even plan a day out together—go somewhere with your partner and show them more than just your home. If that isn’t possible, perhaps make a video of your local area and privately upload it to YouTube, just for them. It allows you to share your space with them even if they can’t be there with you.

Don’t be afraid to tell your partner your problems (this is something I’m still working on). Even if there is nothing you can do to help them or vice versa, one day when you are together you will need this skill; holding back doesn’t help anyone. Further, your partner may have a solution you haven’t considered. I fell in love with a smart, strong woman, and she is full of ideas I have never considered before because we’ve had very different life experiences. The flip side of this is, of course, to make sure you listen when your partner unburdens themselves to you.

The last piece of advice is possibly the biggest one: Know what you both want in the relationship and develop plans together to achieve those goals. Long-distance relationships are difficult enough without someone acting unilaterally or having different ideas about where things are heading. I am fortunate that my partner and I knew early on what we wanted and have been working together to get to that finish line. There have been a number of setbacks, but having a clear plan in place has helped me not fall into despair when things haven’t gone our way.

I hope this helps anyone that is in a long-distance relationship or, if you’ve been thinking about it, helps make up your mind. I know mine has been the best thing to come into my life, and I look forward to updating everyone once the long distance is removed.

Not all of this advice will be useful for everyone, and I would appreciate any advice that people who have been in a similar relationship may be able to add. It is my hope to continue this article as a series as my relationship continues and grows, and I learn more things about how to work within the confines of a long-distance relationship.

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