Let’s face it: Long-distance relationships aren’t always fun. Ideally, you’d like to be face-to-face with your partner for conversations, large life events, or simply put, sex. Especially sex. But that doesn’t mean they can’t work. I watched many a cute couple at A-Camp find one another and then realize the other person lives in Canada or Europe or New York or somewhere over the rainbow. Long-distance is also pretty common in that first year of college, when your girlfriend ends up in California and you’re in Ohio. Maybe you just met someone online and they’re perfect, but they’re from France. I’ve been in quite a few long-distance, long-term relationships, from New York to Brazil to Australia. I’ll admit, sometimes my favorite part of past relationships have been the distance, but sometimes the distance was what broke us up. There is no right or wrong way to be in a long-distance relationship — maybe you thrive on independence or maybe you just need cuddles at night. Here are some of my protips on how to make it work and when to know that it’s over.
Make It Work.
Communicate. This is so easy in theory, but maybe your girlfriend lives in Australia and she’s only awake for half of the day that you’re awake. Prioritize those times. Schedule in times to talk and stick to those dates as if you were going out to a real dinner together. Skype! It’s such a glorious thing! So is texting, if you’re not internationally in love. If you are international, Facebook message or download an app that let’s you text through the internet (my favorite is TextNow). Voxer and HeyTell are also awesome. Keep in touch in ways that are not Facebook. Email. Snail mail love letters. Send care packages. Most importantly, share what your day was like and let your love know you’re missing her.
Talk About Jealousy Issues. Unfortunately, this is a huge part of why long-distance relationships don’t work. But maybe you’re the exception! Talk through what’s making you jealous — are you sad you can’t be the one eating lunch with her in the school cafeteria? Are you annoyed that a cute girl is taking up more attention than you? These are real, legitimate concerns and you shouldn’t demean them. You should talk about them and figure out how to compromise. It all comes down to trust. Do you honestly, really, one million bazillion percent trust that your partner will not cheat on you? Good. Then you can get through it. If not, then you need to be reevaluating this whole thing you’ve got going on.
Schedule Dates. The most important thing is to stick to these dates as if they were actual, in real life, going out together dates. Watch movies together on the phone or Skype. Play online or phone games together (one of my girlfriends and I became obsessed with Yahoo pool once? It was awesome). Find silly things you can do online together — karaoke, drawing, etc.
See One Another. Alternate visiting one another. Travelling is expensive, especially when you have to take time off work. Seeing each other in real life is the best part of being in a long-distance relationship, because it’s always exciting and feel like new, so try to just live in the moment. I used to ruin the last one or two days of a visit by sulking because I didn’t want my girlfriend to leave and that’s probably my biggest regret. Don’t expect your partner to be able to take time off work if you’re visiting her, and don’t make her feel guilty if this is the case. Just be grateful for time spent together. Travel together! Why don’t you meet halfway and explore somewhere together? If you’re in Washington and your girlfriend is in California, meet in Portland. That way you both get vacations and some quality alone time.
Sex. The lack thereof is a major downside of being in a LDR. Find other avenues of intimacy, whether it’s phone sex, naked pictures, Skype… sessions… you do you. Just be forewarned about sending naked pictures to your partner — the internet is forever.
Don’t Let Other People Get You Down. Heaps of people you meet are going to cringe when you tell them your girlfriend lives in Brazil. So what? Are you happy? Yes? Okay. Haters are gonna hate. Get over this as early on in the relationship as possible.
Have Your Own Life. I love being independent. This was my favorite part of being in a long-distance relationship: the ability to go do my own thing. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of spending every night on the phone for hours with your girlfriend. Unfortunately, that isn’t very sustainable. Go out and make friends or you’re going to be miserable. Go to that concert, go to that party. Believe me, you will regret not doing these things.
Have A Time Frame For Ending The Distance. This gives you something to look forward to together. Maybe you’re going to be apart for a few months or a few years. You might not know exact dates in the beginning, but make sure you and your partner talk about eventually living in the same place together. If neither of you wants to compromise…
When To Call it Quits
When You Can’t Compromise. For example, with one of my previous girlfriends, we did the long-distance thing, then we lived together, then we went back to the long-distance thing, and because I didn’t want to keep sacrificing being away from my family to live in another country and I hate flying, and she didn’t want to sacrifice being away from her family and she hated flying, we broke up. That’s the simplified version. Take care of yourself, because nothing is worse than resenting your partner for things out of your control.
When Jealousy Can’t Be Overcome. Is your partner guilt-tripping you for hanging out with your best friend or not picking up the phone by the third ring? Not worth it. Do you find yourself becoming physically sick at the thought of her hanging out with that cute girl without you? Not worth it. First, talk to your girlfriend about the feelings and go from there.
When You Find Yourself Liking Someone Else. Do not, under any circumstances, cheat on your partner. Don’t do it. It’s never okay, not even when you haven’t been around your partner in months and you have completely forgotten how good girls smell and feel and taste. If you’re tempted to cheat, it’s better to just end things.
When It’s Just Not Worth It Anymore. You probably already know when you’re at this point. Admitting defeat does not make you a bad person. Ever. Sometimes you tried really hard or you didn’t want to try anymore or you just don’t want to be in a long-distance relationship. There’s nothing wrong with any of this.