The Perks of a Long Distance Relationship: How to Survive Long Distance
The long distance relationship is an often dreaded experience. It is to be merely tolerated, a stage to be worked through. I think the long distance relationship is an experience to be embraced. Few situations offer the clarity, growth, and freshness of long distance.
When we are geographically closer to our partners, our lives tend to be more fused. We see them from a much closer point of view. To step back and see the big picture is a blessing, as is the chance to develop the flexibility and strength of the bridge that connects us to them.
It may be hard at first to see the perks to a long distance relationship, but if you truly embrace them in honesty then you will grow to appreciate its acquired taste.
When your partner isn't there all the time, you are forced to become more independent and self sufficient. You don't have the convenience of having your partner there to accompany you and comfort you all of the time. You learn to do things for yourself more and enjoy possessing that capability.
You have to become more emotionally independent. If you don't learn how to temper your moods and work through your feelings on your own without your partner helping you out a majority of the time, you will become a miserable emotional wreck. Your partner isn't there to be your escape all of the time, forcing you to really face your life and all its issues.
Your lifestyle will also be more honest. You will arrange your life around your partner much less, leaving you with a lot of space. You can use that space to whine and complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can use it to align your life with your personal goals more clearly. Happiness is found in the latter.
The more independent and self sufficient you are, the better the quality of your relationship. You won't need your partner so much, but you will want them. And the more aware you are of your personal strengths and capabilities, the more you will appreciate the partner who really complements you and your lifestyle.
You won't be hearing as much from your partner. You get more space to wonder about them and be surprised by them. Wherever they are, they are doing things that will change them as a person and force them to grow. You don't know them like you used to anymore- they are changing and becoming someone else, as are you. This is a good thing- you two are evolving.
You won't know every detail about this evolving person. You two will create different pathways in your metaphorical labyrinth, destroying past routes and opening up some formerly closed ones. When you do encounter them again, you have a different puzzle to solve and a new world to get lost it, no matter how subtle the changes are.
You will gain so much perspective on yourself, your relationship, and what you want out of life.
You will question the reason relationships exist and what they add to your experience. You have to align your attitude and actions to what you want from your bond with your partner; you can't go off autopilot anymore. This adds so much more freshness to your life.
You will also see your partner with new eyes, or at least sharpened ones. You experience them again- their curves become smoother, their peaks become sharper, and their colors more vivid. This usually makes you even more attracted to them. Genuine attraction is crucial. You realize how drawn you are to them- heart, body, mind, and soul.
You have to learn to trust in your partner and have confidence in them. You do this or you become an obsessed, suspicious, and controlling partner. That kind of partner is miserable to be and miserable to be with. Don't do it. Trust them. It feels better.
More Improvements to the Rest of Your Life
You are forced to focus even more on your career, your friendships, your hobbies, and your personal interests. You have so much more space, time, and energy to transform any aspect of your life and yourself. Its great and doing so will give you and your partner an even richer experience. Embrace the changes and make the most of them.
Being with friends you truly love and enjoy being around helps foster your independence and expands your heart. This allows you to miss your partner less. Loving other people and getting to know them forces you to be more open minded, understanding, and compassionate- allowing you to be more patient and diplomatic with your partner which means less fights and more fun.
Focusing on personal hobbies and interests gives you more depth, more knowledge, and more pleasure. Getting better at things makes you happy. You undergo more growth and you experience more happiness. You have more to share with your partner. This is the antithesis of monotony.
More Ways to Love Each Other
You have to get creative. Send each other surprises. Make their stays count even more with novel dates and revamped favorites. Write each other letters. Talk to each other in new inside jokes that lead to new ways to say 'I love you'. There's so much to explore.
Of course, this only occurs if you are both willing and with the right partner. This is another great aspect of the long distance relationship; if you are willing to adapt but your partner isn't (or vice versa) then you need to have a very honest conversation with each other's true feelings and intentions. If both of you are willing to adapt, but the growth happens to be directed away from each other, then maybe you should talk about that. This approach also weeds out the relationships that just won't work- the combination of open mindedness and the new perspective that comes with long distance has the potential to make you realize you're with the wrong person.
Some people can't do long distance because they say they have to focus on the rest of their life first- but I have to disagree. If you really love that person enough and you two have done the inner work necessary to adapt and make the most of long distance, then you two don't need to put much work in. A relatively short phone call and a few texts a day should suffice as long as you two regularly put in more time for deeper interactions- like a weekly or monthly Skype session, some handwritten letters, and trips to see each other. You have so much time left to improve the rest of your life. You just have to be ready to adapt. If you truly love each other, you two will be fine. You don't have to give up that special bond, you just have to both gain more perspective, tweak your expectations, be more independent, and adapt.
All of this is definitely easier with the right person at the right point of your life, but try to explore and find that ease before calling it quits. And if it's impossible and makes you miserable, give it up. Life is too short to be knocking on locked doors, and it is way too short to be closing the door on someone you really really really love. Good luck everyone. Dig deep, be open, and be honest.
Take it easy, but take it.