Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
I have been dating my boyfriend for more than three and a half years, and for that entire time we have only been able to see each other over school breaks. For some, this feat may seem impossible; however, for many individuals, a long-distance relationship should not be completely disregarded. In fact, there are some benefits to the situation that I believe make a long-distance relationship more successful. To maintain a long-distance relationship, you need the following qualities to keep afloat (at least from my experience).
Your communication must be superb.
Since you’re not right next to each other, you can’t assume that your partner knows what you’re feeling based on your body language or reactions, so you have to describe your days instead of assuming they know. Skype and FaceTime will become a useful tool, even though they typically have shitty quality, and you might spend hours talking to one another. When you’re not together, you can maintain the intimacy of hearing your partner’s voice and building your communicative bond.
You must have a sense of independence.
Anyone in a long-distance relationship must sample the gentle suffering of loneliness and grow in that state. Instead of fearing suffocation from your partner, you must learn to do things by yourself. You can’t attach yourself to your partner’s friend group when they all live hundreds of miles away, so you maintain your own friendships. This leads to plenty of new things to talk about as you won’t get stuck in the monotony. You might get used to doing things on your own and that’s totally okay. When you go on your own adventures with yourself or your own friend group, you have a lot more to talk to your partner about in the possible five-hour-long Skype calls you will have. Over time, seeing each other grow and develop into more independent people can allow for more passions to ensue because you’ll both be brave as fuck and that’s hot.
You have to live in the moment when you do get to see them.
When you finally get to see your partner, neither of you has to feel guilty for cuddling for an extra hour. Obviously, physical affection is important to many relationships, so you appreciate every second you can run your fingers through their hair a bit more than couples who see each other daily. You relish each moment more because you know that your loved one will have to go back home at some point, especially if you can only see them on the occasional long weekend.
You have to find methods to cope with your longing for them.
Personally, I always call my boyfriend and make plans for the next time I will see him when I am feeling forlorn, whether it be visiting a nice art museum when we are back in his hometown, planning a whole excursion to a national park or seeing if a work shift can be taken on by a colleague so he can stay for a weekend. Sometimes, I plan out gifts I might want to make or purchase for a birthday/anniversary. Other times, I look through photo albums of us when we went to South Dakota and reminisce about the time together. Of course, you can always look back to No. 1 on my list and talk to each other for as long as possible.
You can (if needed) make a clean break.
The final benefit from a long-distance relationship (that I hope to never experience myself) is that you can more easily break up. If you are dating a person on this campus, at your place of work, or are cohabitating with another person, it is much harder to cut ties. You may see them in the library, in the break room, or have to live together until the lease is finished, and this can be incredibly awkward and mentally straining. If you break up with your long-distance partner, you won’t lose many, if any, friends over it and you can continue on with your life as (hopefully) you have become a more independent person. Long-distance relationships are hard. There is no sugarcoating that, as you will miss their embrace, the way the sun gleams in their eyes and their beautiful smile. But if you love the person, you can find a way to make it work.