If you’re even slightly neurotic, a long distance relationship might threaten to put your delicate nerves over the edge. Relationships can be hard enough when you’re both in the same city. Everyone has their own set of insecurities and issues that can be blown out of proportion when there are 3000 miles between you.
Being around someone on a regular basis and doing new things together is a huge part of being in a relationship. It’s hard to cope when the only contact you have are Skype conversations on your laptop, phone calls and emails. Can your relationship survive the unflattering lighting that characterizes your webcam Skype sessions? How do you know when it’s worth it and how do you cope without building yourself a papier mache model of his head and parading it around town on a stick?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating six months or two years. You need to be realistic about what you both expect out of this relationship. There needs to be an end point in sight where you will both end up in the same city. If you just assume that things will “eventually fall into place”, you might be fooling yourself. Don’t follow anyone to a new city unless it feels right. Too many times people give up their entire lives to be with someone and it turns out the feeling isn’t mutual. But then it’s too late and you’re stuck in some horrible new flat in a city you didn’t want to live in anyway.
At the same time, don’t let someone move to be with you in a new city if you aren’t sure about them. It might be hard to admit now that you don’t think they’re the “one” but how much harder will it be when their luggage is piled in your living room? Be honest with yourself and with each other, it will save both of you a lot of heartache.
Once you decide that you’re going to be in a long distance relationship, frankly it’s important to stop being a neurotic psychopath. Creeping on his Facebook and monitoring his activities remotely is not very romantic. You have to face the fact that you are now living in different cities and will be spending weekends apart. You won’t have an automatic date for events and weddings and sometimes you will feel lonely. But you can’t expect your boyfriend to not have a social life. And unless you’re sitting at home making costumes for your cats, you’re most likely going out as well.
If you feel threatened by every girl he talks to at a party, every event he goes to and every single Facebook photo that he’s tagged in where he looks like he’s having fun, you’re going to drive yourself to binge eat an entire cheesecake one night. The fact of the matter is - even if you were in the same city and living in the same apartment, people can still cheat on their partners. You both made a commitment to be in this relationship and if you honestly can’t trust him then it’s time to cut him loose.
Being in a long distance relationship myself for the past seven months, I’ve discovered that blogging wasn’t just created for my own narcissistic ends. As much as I love to update my own blog, twitter and tumblr (all very droll I assure you), I’ve found that keeping up a joint blog as a couple goes a long way towards brightening up my day and feeling connected. It doesn’t have to be an essay on your every movement, it can just be images or uploaded music videos or anything else you both enjoy. It’s nice to log in and see if the other person has updated it and to post things you think they would enjoy. It’s a good idea to set it up as a private blog with a password unless you want your sweet nothings to be broadcast all over the internet.
Depending on how long you’re going to be apart, it’s important to book as many holidays together as you possibly can. This may be hard if you both work full-time and the flight is both long and expensive but you can work around it by maybe meeting in the middle in another city that you’ve both always wanted to visit. Even if the visits are not as frequent as you’d like, if you are always trying to book time to see each other then it gives you something to look forward to. Time does go faster than most people imagine so even though six or nine months sounds like a long time now and will sometimes feel unbearable, you will get through it.
Even knowing all of this, putting it into practice isn’t always easy. Maintaining a relationship long distance drains you emotionally, can be frustrating, lonely and volatile. But if you know you want to be together and have a plan in place, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work.
Going the Distance film image © Warner Bros Entertainment 2010