As the spring quarter comes to a close, many couples are forced to separate — some are going back to different hometowns for the summer and others are being separated by after-graduation plans. And the big question for most of these couples is: Are we going to try a long-distance relationship (LDR)?
I have had this conversation myself when I moved to California, leaving my boyfriend behind in the humidity of South Florida. Unable to break up, we had a long talk about how dedicated we were going to be to each other and how we were going to beat the odds and reunite one day. And now look at us — we haven’t spoken to each other in three years. That’s right, we failed miserably and broke up about four months into our LDR.
But before you get discouraged, I should admit that I didn’t know what to expect from an LDR. I also made a lot of mistakes in handling that kind of a relationship. To make a long-distance relationship work, you need to know what you’re in for. If you take the time to consider the nature of a long-distance relationship and come to terms with the sacrifices you will have to make, then maybe you can overcome the odds — or at least handle it better than I did.
First, you have to really think about your specific situation — what do you really want, what can you handle and how dedicated are you? Consider how long you will be apart, how far you will be apart and how strong your relationship is. If you’re only separating for the summer, you have a clear view of reuniting physically in three months, and that should be completely doable if you’ve been exclusive and in love for a while. But if your beloved is graduating and moving to a different state and you have no idea when or if he or she will ever be back, then that is a whole different story. Can you live off of Skype calls for an undefined amount of time?
Also consider how much you trust your partner. Trust is key. End of discussion. If your trust in them is running low, then there is no way a long-distance relationship will work. If you try to engage in an LDR without a healthy amount of trust, you will live out the last days of your relationship in complete paranoia and stress before the whole thing explodes so fiercely that you don’t talk to each other ever again.
But even if you have achieved a maximum level of trust, you have to recognize that any long-distance relationship will be strained. Consider what you should expect once you’ve entered into the sexually frustrated and cyber-fueled world of LDR.
Expect to not be able to touch your partner, hug your partner, kiss your partner or have sex with your partner for very long periods of time. It’s even harder than you think and it’s going to suck. The only way to remedy this situation is to take advantage of technology. Skype, Facetime, Snapchat … Do it all! Attempt anything to simulate real conversation and to create a feeling of closeness. And if you want to use these mediums to get out your sexual frustrations, it could probably be beneficial. Phone sex (or Skype sex) is a real thing, and it’s as close as you’re going to get to physical intimacy. However, be careful about images you share over social mediums or through the Internet, and make sure you really trust whoever you are being cyber sexy with.
Also expect your partner to spend time with other people. Yes, they will probably go to parties without you. Yes, they will be in contact with attractive people. I know it is unsettling to know your partner is suddenly in a different social sphere without you, but you need to be able to react to their social life rationally. If you’re the type to fly off the handle if your partner doesn’t answer your text right away, then a long-distance relationship is going to be very hard on you.
Expect to feel a disconnect from them every once in a while, especially if you two are fighting. It’s really hard to reconcile with each other when you can’t hug or cuddle. Consoling words only do so much. Consider using social mediums to be creatively sweet and to keep your partner feeling loved. Maybe make videos for them, send them cutesy emails, or leave them sweet phone messages. The little things will help you maintain a strong bond, even when you feel distant.
With graduation and the end of yet another academic year, some relationships may be tested with an LDR. If you are considering entering into a long-distance relationship, I wish you luck. It isn’t impossible, but it is hard, and hopefully you will know what to expect and be prepared for the struggle. But even though it will be hard, if you and your partner really want to make things work and are ready to make sacrifices, then it’s worth trying.