Do you have an LDR? It may sound like a strange medical condition, but it is actually the widely-used web acronym for “long-distance relationship.” Unfortunately, we aren’t always in close proximity to those we love — schools, careers, and other factors can pull lovers apart and drop them in different and unexpected geographies. Then what?
The projected outcome for an LDR is truly bleak — or quite excellent — depending on whom you ask. Naysayers report that your LDR’s is doomed from the start because it is simply too difficult to navigate around the communication challenges, trust issues, and plethora of unknowns. A person who has had a successful LDR will likely tell you that, while difficult at times, the experience made their relationship stronger and kept the excitement of seeing one another from fading over time.
So which is it? Are you doomed or going to be just fine? To love and be loved is part of human nature, so the fact that you’re asking yourself that question means you’re doing something right. Remember that an LDR is a case-by-case animal, so there’s no hard and fast rule. For example, my long-ago LDR died an agonizingly painful death as the two of us tried — and failed — to make our young love survive different colleges. On the other hand, my sister’s LDR blossomed into a marriage just last month. Below are her do’s and my don’ts.
Trust and be trustworthy. You’re not there, so you don’t know what your partner is doing. You don’t really know the person he is having lunch with or how he interacts with colleagues at the office. And happy hour? How does that work when you’re not around? Shudder.
Or, don’t shudder. Instead, take a deep breath and have trust that your partner is doing the right thing. In turn, you behave in a trustworthy manner to build (or strengthen an existing) foundation for your relationship. You must believe in your character and the character of your lover, or your relationship would not succeed even if you lived on the same block. Give the benefit of the doubt until you’re given a reason not to.
Make your relationship a priority (without losing your priorities in the process). Schedule time for communication with your partner — Skype, call, or write — at least every other day, if not more, as your schedule allows. Have some regularity as well. Calling each other at the same time each night, for example, gives you both something to look forward to that is easy and expected. However, be careful not to lose your own interests and spend all your time focusing on how to increase communication. If you had a hobby before you entered into the LDR, you should not lose that hobby entirely because it interferes with a call time. Likewise, don’t let your partner forego things he enjoys on a personal level, either. You’ll be a better couple if you prioritize both your relationship and your individual interests.
Be open-ended. Just “seeing what will happen” is not a plan for success in any endeavor — your love life is no different. Instead, have a goal. Maybe you want to reevaluate the situation in six months, relocate together in three years or visit one another on the next holiday. Knowing the end game or even the next step is important because it keeps both parties on the same page. During a time of so many unknowns, having a grasp on “what’s next” is crucial.
Force it. I loathe talking on the phone, and awkward silence is the content of my nightmares. To my horror, there was a point in my unsuccessful LDR that I actually searched for “topics of conversation” and jotted them down in a small notepad in my purse. I felt I needed an arsenal of topics to bring up about should a moment of silence strike on one of our nightly talks on the phone. It did often, unfortunately, because we simply ran out of things to say. It happens. If you have to Google things to talk about, it’s probably safe to say that you’re forcing it.
There are other signs, too: not connecting on a physical level (when applicable) and overanalyzing seemingly-small areas of your relationship for little benefit are examples. Love is work, but it’s the good kind of work. If it becomes anything else, you’re probably forcing it.