September 3, 2010

Going the Extra Mile with Your Long-Distance Relationship

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

In relationships, the only thing harder than finding the right person is keeping the right person, especially when you are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. While it is possible to overcome the distance and its accompanying problems, you will both have to work hard to keep the relationship afloat. Here are some ways to help shorten the long-distance gap:

First things first, establish rules. How often will visits occur? Who will do the traveling (just one person or split half-and-half)? Most importantly, will you date other people while apart? Don’t wait until something detrimental has already happened to create some rules: do it now.

If you agree to stay faithful to one another, don't cheat. You’re probably asking, “Did you really have to include this one?” Yes, I did. Cheating is a very common (if not the most likely) reason long-distance relationships fail. One person gets lonely or meets somebody else, and without the boyfriend/girlfriend around to counteract these feelings, it can be easier to stray than you might imagine.

That being said, though, you must be trusting. Just because your significant other doesn’t answer the phone over the lunch hour (or in the middle of the night), you should not assume the worst (cheating, that is, though come to think of it, death is probably worse). Have trust in your partner; otherwise, the distance will constantly eat at you.

Give and take equally. Depending on your previously agreed-upon arrangement, you should each put forth equal efforts to making this relationship last. (What? You have no arrangements? Go back to #1 right now.) Even if only one person is able to do the monthly journeying, for example, the other should offer to pay travel expenses. Or, if you switch off travel duties, make sure it basically evens out in terms of mileage, money, and time taken off of work. If one person puts forth more effort over and over, he or she may start to resent the other.

Webcam. Be creative. You’ll soon figure out the benefits here.

Have a plan. How long will you be apart? How will this relationship change over time? What will be different when you are able to live closer to one another? By deciding on a plan of action, you will not only be on the same page with your respective goals and timelines, but you will also have an incentive to keep working at the relationship.

Keep communication open. This may not come naturally at first, but clear communication is important in every relationship. Yet with long-distance relationships, it is mandatory. Because you are not around one another on a daily basis, your partner cannot easily determine whether you are upset and ignoring his calls or just plain busy at work. Moreover, if you are starting to feel the effort of maintaining this relationship is becoming exhaustive or you are starting to feel bored with the routine, let your partner know in order figure out a solution together.

Know when to quit. If your unhappiness or distrust is overshadowing your happiness while together, it may be time to call it quits, if only until you live in the same area code again.

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