What I Learned From My Long Distance Relationship

Bouncing back from a mistake that almost ruined your life go out and do something great


Carly and I met by chance in 2013, he was in Boston on a work visa from Germany, and he worked out at the gym near my office. We met one day when I was heading to my favorite coffee shop, and he accidentally collided into me while he was trying to chase down a cab. He felt bad, and I thought he needed a “gotcha” for almost giving me a heart attack. So I feigned lightheadedness and pretended to lose my balance. Well, it worked. He got all concerned and started checking my vision. When I told him I was joking, he laughed and offered to take me out for coffee. Hours later, we were sitting across from each other giggling. By our second round of coffee, he closed his hand over mine and kissed me. Ok, I’ll admit—I wasn’t sure what to do. I never hit it off with a guy that quickly but I was having such a good time, that I didn’t want to leave. After, when he walked me home, and his lips were on mine I knew we had a real connection. But he also lived in Germany, which was a 6-hour time zone difference, and all I could think about was how we were going to make this thing work. Still, we started dating, and that eight-month time span was the only time we lived in the same country during our almost two-year relationship. Here’s what I learned:


“Trusting your partner”

Psychosexual and relationship therapist, Aoife Drury says, “Trust is a necessity to any healthy relationship.” She adds, “When entering into a long-distance relationship issues around trust can be magnified.” Aoife says before entering  a long-distance relationship it’s important to “understand the difficulties you will face and talk about them to your partner.”

Many people may discourage you from a LDR, and some of your closest friends may advise you not to take it seriously, in case you get your heartbroken. Nobody says it is going to be easy—the extra distance makes many things unachievable.Things could get messy. I’m sure we’ve all dated someone that you didn’t think you were going to necessarily end up with, however, being able to hold hands, having someone to go out with, feeling each others touch, waking up together…these small things could suddenly mean so much more in a long-distance relationship. The reality is that extra distance makes you appreciate the simple.

When Carly and I were apart,  I remember how easy it was to stay in touch. He would always call me in the morning before work and before I went to bed. We FaceTimed consistently, and sometimes he’d wait for me to fall asleep before hanging up the phone. We took turns visiting each other or sometimes agreed to meet halfway and spend a week together at some premier hotel. Everything was going great. We were exactly the same person, had the same views and values, and truly felt something magical with each other.

Aoife says it’s important to remember that being far away from each other doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t share experiences. “Video call each other while you both go for a walk-describe what you plan on doing for the day. Cook the same meals together. Read the same books or watch a TV show you both like and create time to chat about it.”


“Keep it real and know what you want”

My boyfriend and I had some long talks about how we wanted things to go early on in our relationship. We understood that long-distance relationships work but that it may not be for everyone. Carly wanted our relationship to go the distance. So it was easy for me to commit. We talked about LDRs do’s and don’ts and knew that going out to clubs or late-night drinks with a group of friends was a bad idea. I’m pretty sure he knew I’d be upset if he went out with the office eye candy. We didn’t want to fall into the trap which you, unconsciously or not set yourself up for a uncomfortable situation–Meeting up with someone from your past who has been flirting with you is a ‘hard NO.’ One thing that’s for sure is that being open and honest makes communicating your feelings easier. You don’t want to lie to your partner during an LDR, because lying ruins things, and it’s never the same afterward. Keep it real because trust is a very fragile thing.


“When things get serious”

“Celebrating milestones is a great way to be positive in your relationship,” Aoife says. “Reveling in each other’s achievements—from personal ones like getting a new job to relational one—like when you first kissed or “monthly anniversaries” allow you to “keep positive energy flowing.” She says this is important as it not only reminds your partner, they’re a priority to you, but it also shows you remember what’s important to them.

After the first year, we began to feel the distance and incomplete when we weren’t together. I had just started a new job, and Carly had another work Visa coming up. But regardless of the changes, we always felt grateful to have an approaching date when we knew we would be together. We celebrated everything, from birthdays, promotions, christenings—you name it. We updated each other on life’s happenings, however mundane some of those things seemed. When Carly eventually got back to Boston, it felt great to be in his arms. We spent most of our time catching up when he wasn’t at work. He spent a lot of time with my family. Eventually my father suggested we get married due to our traveling expenses. At first, we struggled with our feelings on that but decided that there wasn’t any real rush, and we’d hold off from making any hasty decisions.


“Don’t panic if everything isn’t perfect”

If you’re an insecure person and your partner lives in another country—doubts will arise. I am not an insecure person by nature, but for those who have trouble trusting, you’re going to have to set some ground rules with your partner. Both of you need to be clear with what you expect of each other during this long-distance relationship. Talk about everything important to you, so that nothing takes the other party by surprise. Carly and I were honest since the beginning. We knew we wouldn’t last if our ideas of what we wanted in life, marriage, finances, children were a complete mismatch. The thing with LDRs is—they’re complex like any other relationship, but they do work if both parties love and care for each other. I think the one thing that can kill an LDR relationship is excessive communication. It’s unwise to be overly “clingy” and possessive. You don’t have to communicate 12 hours a day to keep the relationship going. Many couples think that they have to compensate for the distance by doing more. This is not true. Doing this will only make things worse. Soon you’ll get tired of “loving.”


“What about sex?”

Long-distance relationships don’t have to be significantly different from ones close by. If you want to keep the relationship going, you’ll have to create sexual tension. Keep the flame burning by sending sexual texts, engage in lots of phone sex, and don’t be afraid to try some sexy puns that always work well. If you can take a trip to see your partner more often, then take the trip to keep the sexual desire alive. Otherwise, they will be inclined to have sexual relationships with someone closer, even if they’re not that into them. Remember, sexual tension is undoubtedly one of the most important things between couples. Sexual desire is the glue that keeps both parties from drifting apart. Not only is sex a biological need, but it’s also an emotional one.


“Doing similar things”

One of the cool things about an LDR is that you can always recommend books, TV shows, movies, music news, etc. to each other; this is a great way to create shared experiences if you’re living apart. Anne Louise says, “Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of the end.” Before Carly, a long-distance relationship seemed inconceivable to me, so I stayed away from them. Now I know that when you meet the right one, you should always take a chance on love. Regardless of the time differences and the crazy complexities thrown at you, one should make falling in love a priority.

However, despite our best efforts, Carly and I didn’t go the distance. No matter how well it started, at some point it wasn’t enough. I guess there were too many stops/starts between us. Eventually, we couldn’t get back to how we were in the beginning. I also think that not being ready for marriage played a big part in it. Obviously, it was the next step in our relationship and I couldn’t get there. But all of that is irrelevant. Because if I had to do it all over again and thought the person was worth it, I would definitely give LDR another try.


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