Long distance often gets a bad rap for ruining perfectly good relationships. How many movies and personal stories do we know of where once perfectly happy couples split because one moved to San Francisco and the other to Boston? But really, it’s not as bad as it seems.
A recent study at Queen’s University in Ontario
found that long distance couples, “do not report lower relationship quality than those in geographically close relationships.” In fact, long distance couples are often found to be better communicators and more creative partners than their short distance peers.
Being in a long distance relationship isn’t a trial or punishment you have to suffer through until you and your sweetheart can be reunited. Instead it’s an opportunity to get to know one another better and express your creativity. And to help get you started we’ve compiled a list of the top three things to help you embrace your long distance relationship!
Keep Calm & Communicate
An unfortunate consequence of distance is that normal relationship problems suddenly seem amplified. One sharply worded text message appears indicative of other problems such as lack of interest in the relationship or anger. This can lead to unwanted side effects of jealousy, insecurity, and general upset. The solution is simple though: keep calm and communicate.
That sharply worded text message still bothering you? Calmly relate that to your partner. Remember to ask questions and raise points to gain understanding not seek retribution or assign blame. Simply asking how their day is going can open the floor for your partner to bring up other issues or points of stress. A majority of the time that sharply worded text message had nothing to do with you and everything to do with that coffee they spilled on themselves as they rushed out of Monon Coffee Company this morning.
Keeping cool and taking time to acknowledge issues will not only show your partner you care but that you are committed to building a relationship that is going to last. Remember: problems in long distance relationships are always smaller than they appear.
Remember the Little Things
Distance, a busy life, and countless other amusements can all make it pretty easy for you to forget some of the smaller but still significant aspects of your partner’s life. However, you shouldn’t let the excuses pile up and neglect being a part of your significant other’s life. A key part of maintaining a long distance relationship is to let your partner know you haven’t forgotten about them and you are still part of each other’s lives even when you’re miles away. So next time they have an exam or season 4 of their favorite show is premiering send a quick text or mail a card to let them know you’re thinking about them and their interests. You can even get creative with your signs of affection. Is that exam coming up Wednesday? Offer to Skype in and quiz them for the big test or mail a care package with lots of study snacks.
If you’re bad with remembering dates or on information overload as it is, try putting down your sweetheart’s events in your calendar. If you’re keeping an electronic calendar you have the added bonus of being able to set alarms so you never miss an event. Not only does remembering the small things show your partner that you’re thinking of them but also demonstrates that you want to be involved in their life. Just because you’re away doesn’t mean you have to miss out!
Opportunities & Challenges
If you’re in a long distance relationship you’re probably tired of hearing your acquaintances say, “long distance is tough but I’m sure your relationship will be fine!” Most everyone seems to focus on the negative aspects (diminished in-person contact, time differences, inability to participate in every day and special activities) and hardly at all on the positive.
Being in a long distance relationship often affords couples the opportunities to expand their communication efforts, become adept problem solvers, and pursue interests they might not otherwise have been able to. But like any opportunity these also come with challenges. It never hurts to identify with your partner sources of potential conflict or challenge. For instance, do you watch The Walking Dead together every Sunday? Will watching it without the other person become a weekly reminder that they’re gone? Instead of canceling your cable subscription make plans to watch the show together every week via Skype. Even from afar coordinating actions can help you feel closer to your significant other. It can also give you valuable insight into your partner. (Did you notice before how they always suck in their breath just before a zombie is killed?)
For every challenge in your long distance relationship there is also opportunity–sometimes you just have to get creative to find it!
Ginnye Lynn Cubel, a Butler graduate and native Hoosier, is currently living and working abroad as an au pair in Paris. Her boyfriend lives in Seattle, Washington. They are currently addicted to watching House of Cards together.