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12 Bittersweet Experiences Of a Long Distance Relationship That No One But You And I Can Understand

12 Bittersweet Experiences Of a Long Distance Relationship That No One But You And I Can Understand

Years ago, I did what many choose not to: I got involved in a long distance relationship. This brilliant, handsome, beguiling man didn’t reside in another city, county, or state—he lived in another country.

My friends thought I was crazy. My mother believed I was setting myself up for heartbreak. My father, I’m certain, was just glad he didn’t have to meet the man. I, however, was doggedly determined to Make It Work, despite the ocean (trust me, it’s not a pond) and most of the continental United States between us. We were, after all, Meant to Be.

Before I made the radical decision to move from my home in Italy to his in San Francisco, we subsisted on the powers of communication and rendezvouses marked in my memory as some of the loveliest and most passionate moments of my life. People marveled at our ability to remain deeply connected regardless of the time difference, the language barrier, and the miles and miles between us. I always argued that we survived and thrived precisely because we were worlds apart. While bittersweet, here are twelve experiences that only those who are engaged in a long-distance relationship can understand:

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1. The old adage is true: Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

There are few moments as memorable and sensational than reuniting with your loved one. While a long-distance relationship involves its share of lonely nights and forlorn weekends, being apart fosters a greater appreciation for the time you do have together—and greater appreciation for the one you love. Not seeing your partner on a daily basis makes you miss them in an entirely good way—for when you do, you hold on to them like you’ll never let go.

2. You have the time, space, and energy to focus on your own life.

Let’s face it: Relationships –at least the ones that last—require a not-so-insignificant amount of selflessness. You compromise in myriad ways, from turning down a job promotion that necessitates travel to stay close to them and spending time with his friends instead of yours to taking up golfing when you’d rather be playing tennis. In a long-distance relationship, you often have the opportunity to focus on you—and only you. You can work late hours without feeling that twinge of guilt. You can have a weekend away with your niece without hurting his feelings. You can spend your evenings on your novel. You can embrace your own passions wholeheartedly. And these experiences are all the richer because you know you’ll be wholly, completely you when you do see your partner again.

3. You embrace the magic of the moment.

Long-term domestic partnerships come with a litany of mundane activities that would probably make your younger, freer self cry: Trips to Ikea. Grocery shopping. Picking up her dry-cleaning; pairing his socks. In a long-distance relationship, you learn to plan reunions that rarely involve the routine necessities of daily life. My long-distance boyfriend and I relished what time we had together, and filled nearly every waking hour with romance and adventure. We went rock climbing. We slept under the stars. We talked until two o’clock in the morning in front of a fire while it blazed snow outside. Without the distractions of chores and alarm clocks, we were able to concentrate solely on each other.

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4. You learn independence with a capital I.

Friends of mine who have been in committed, domestic relationships have a tendency to forget how to do things on their own—and some have never learned at all. During the years in which I was in a long-distance relationship, I gained a number of lifelong skills that have rewarded me to this day, from changing a flat tire and balancing my checking account to fixing a clogged sink and managing emotional woes on my own. The self-sufficiency I gained led to immense courage and considerable growth. Moreover, those qualities I inadvertently adopted and nurtured while alone have served me well in more way than I can count.

 5. You sharpen your communication skills.

I envy modern couples in long-distance relationships. Technology today—from Skype and texting to Whatsapp and Facetime—allows couples who are physically separated to stay closer and better connected than ever. And yet I don’t regret a minute of the time my boyfriend and I spent communicating when we were apart. Since every second on the phone was valuable, we didn’t waste it on small talk or trivial matters. Rather, we spent that time together discovering each other in deep, lasting ways and discussing weighty issues—politics, religion, our pasts, our dreams. Our letters to each other were filled with specific, telling details as we tried to paint for the other an image of our lives across the proverbial pond. Our communication, harkening back centuries, led to a bond that was so much more intimate than the purely physical. It was intensely emotional, mentally provocative, and spiritually satisfying.

6. You learn patience.

Patience had never been one of my virtues. Until I met this man from San Francisco, that is. During our relationship, I learned that not every desire can or should be instantly gratified; that days and hours and sometimes months of waiting come equipped with marvelous rewards. What’s more, anticipation builds, which can often be delicious.

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7. You acquire trust.

It takes a leap of faith to trust your non-live-in lover who lives in the same town. Trusting a partner who is three time zones away is another story entirely. But my partner and I, early on, made a commitment to be loyal to each other, no matter how lonely we got. It takes courage to trust someone on that bone-deep level, and yet, if you’re with the right person? It will be wholly natural. Moreover, it will instill in you persistence and faith—which is right up there with patience in terms of lifelong gifts.

8. You realize that geography is just a construct.

If you have a magnetic, unbreakable bond, the distance between you becomes just that—distance. You may be interstate or oceans apart, but narrowing that distance when you can has never been easier. And when you can’t be in each other’s physical presence? You realize you can be in their mental, physical, and spiritual sphere. With this, you start to see the world in a larger, more encompassing and enlightening way. The moon you’re looking at is the very moon that he too is seeing, after all. It’s just a matter of perspective.

9. Your passport becomes brag-worthy.

When possible, my boyfriend would make the fourteen hour trip to meet me in Italy, even if it was only for a week. I had a blast showing him my favorite haunts. When time permitted, I would meet him in San Francisco, where we did everything from taking a tour of Alcatraz to spending a tender, lovely weekend in wine country. Other times we met halfway—or out of the way: New York City. London. Greece. Together, we experienced places and people and cuisines and attractions that few couples have the chance to do in an entire lifetime together. Exhilarating? Oh, yes.

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Which brings me to my next point…

 10. You get creative.

Each date feels like a first date when you’re in a long-distance relationship. From the outfit you wear to the venue you choose, the hopeful expectation your separation builds also grants you the time and creativity to put real thought into your outings. Gifts also become symbolic and not mere necessities—a painting that brings to mind your first weekend at the ocean together, a necklace that captures the color of her eyes, a book that you loved and want to share with him. Because each interaction is undeniably precious, you put imagination and energy into each gesture and every plan.

 11. You choose your battles wisely.

Domestic relationships are often prone to disagreements both large and small, with disputes ranging from household responsibilities to issues as petty as who left the light on in the living room. The boon of a long-distance relationship is that your arguments are few and far between. And when you do have them? They’re based on meatier issues, and are resolved with the thoughtfulness and deliberation that comes with having the time and space alone to think things through.

12. You learn the power and beauty of being comfortable and content alone.

Reflecting back on this time in my life, I realize that my long-distance relationship was, in many ways, a primer for my future when my husband and I decided to separate. When I was with my San Francisco beau, I learned at a relatively young age how to be relaxed and satisfied in my own company. I had no one to please; I had no one else to please—and in that space, I discovered what stimulated me, what disappointed me, what warmed me, what enthralled me. I walked for miles in the woods alone on a regular basis—a hobby I do this day. I found pleasure in dining solo; a special thrill in seeing a play or film by myself. I learned to navigate emotional turmoil alone. Without the diversions and responsibilities of being with someone on a day to day basis, I started to know myself in a way I never had before. And through this, I gleaned what it meant to enjoy and appreciate myself. Which is, of course, the most rewarding experience of all in both life and love.

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Last Updated on August 14, 2018

21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

Many people believe that long distance relationships are never going to work out. Your family may discourage it, and some of your best friends may advise you not to take it too seriously, in case you get your heart broken.

Nobody says it is going to be easy — the extra distance makes many things unachievable. Things could get complicated, and you could get sad and lonely at times.

However, the extra distance also makes the simplest things the sweetest, being able to hold the other person’s hand, eating together at the same table, feeling each other’s touch, taking a walk together, smelling each other’s hair… these small wishes could suddenly mean so much more in a long distance relationship.

Long distance relationships may be tough but they have their own surprises too. To keep your love alive and strong, here are 21 tips to make your long distance relationship work:

1. Avoid excessive communication.

    It is unwise to be overly “sticky” and possessive. You two don’t really have to communicate 12 hours a day to keep the relationship going. Many couples think that they need to compensate for the distance by doing more. This is not true. And it might only make things worse. Soon you would get tired of “loving.” Remember: Less is more. It is not about spamming — you are only going to exhaust yourselves. It’s really about teasing at the right moments and tugging at the right spots.

    2. See it as an opportunity.

    “If you want to live together, you first need to learn how to live apart.” – Anonymous

    View it as a learning journey for the both of you. See it as a test of your love for each other. As the Chinese saying goes, “Real gold is not afraid of the test of fire.” Instead of thinking that this long distance relationship is pulling you two apart, you should believe that through this experience, the both of you will be bound together even stronger.

    As Emma says it to Will in season four of Glee,

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    “I would rather be here, far from you, but feeling really close, rather than close to you but feeling really far away.” – Emma, Glee Season 4

    3. Set some ground rules to manage your expectations.

      Both of you need to be clear with what you expect of each other during this long distance relationship. Set some ground rules so that none of you will do things that will take the other party by surprise. For instance, are you two exclusive? Is it alright for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.

      4. Try to communicate regularly, and creatively.

      Greet each other “good morning” and “good night” every day — this is a must. On top of that, try to update your partner on your life and its happenings, however mundane some of the things may seem. To up the game, send each other pictures, audio clips and short videos from time to time. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other person feel loved and attended to.

      5. Talk dirty with each other.

        Sexual tension is undoubtedly one of the most important things between couples. Sexual desire is like a glue that keeps both parties from drifting apart. Not only is sex a biological need, it is an emotional one as well. Keep the flames burning by sending each other teasing texts filled with sexual innuendos and provocative descriptions. Sexy puns work pretty well too.

        6. Avoid “dangerous” situations.

        If you already know that going to the club or going drinking with your group of friends late at night will displease your partner, then you should either 1. Not do it or 2. Tell your partner beforehand so as to reassure him/her. Don’t be careless about this sort of matter because your partner is only going to be extra worried or extra suspicious, and of course, very upset, because you are putting him/her in a position where he/she feels powerless or lacking in control.

        Also, It could be easy for you to fall into the trap which you, unconsciously or not, set up for yourself by “hanging out” with your office eye-candy after work, or going out with a girl or guy from your past who has been flirting with you. You need to recognize the dangers before entering into the situation. Don’t just listen to your heart. Listen to your mind too.

        7. Do things together.

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          Play an online game together. Watch a documentary on YouTube or Vimeo at the same time. Sing to each other on Skype while one of you plays the guitar. “Take a walk together” outside while video-calling each other. Go online-shopping together — and buy each other gifts (See #13). You really have to be creative and spontaneous about it.

          8. Do similar things.

          Recommend books, TV shows, movies, music, news and etc. to each other. When you read, watch and listen to the same things, you get to have more topics in common to talk about. This is a good to create some shared experiences even though you are living apart.

          9. Make visits to each other.

            Visits are the highlight of every long distance relationship. After all the waiting and yearning and abstinence, you finally get to meet each other to fulfill all the little things like kissing, holding hands, etc. which are all common to other couples but so very special and extra intimate for people in long distance relationships. It will be like fireworks, glitter bombs, confetti, rainbows and butterflies everywhere.

            10. Have a goal in mind.

            “What do we want to achieve at the end of the day?” “How long are we going to be apart?” “What about the future?” These are the questions you two need to ask yourselves. The truth is, no couple can be in a long distance relationship for forever. Eventually we all need to settle down.

            So make a plan with each other. Do up a timeline, marking down the estimated times apart and times together, and draw an end goal. It is important that you two are on the same page and have the same goals. So that even if you are not living in the same space and the same timezone, both of you are still working together in the same direction towards a future that includes one another.

            11. Enjoy your alone time and your time with your friends and family.

              You are alone but you are not lonely, unless you choose to feel like it. You don’t have to let your world revolve around your partner — you still have you, your friends and your family. Take this time apart to do more with your friends and family. Go to the gym more often. Get a new hobby. Binge-watch shows. There are plenty of things for you to do that doesn’t involve your partner.

              12. Stay honest with each other.

              Talk about your feelings of fear, insecurity, jealousy, apathy, whatsoever. If you try to hide anything from your partner, that secret will sooner or later swallow you up from inside out. Don’t try to deal with things all by yourself. Be open and honest with each other. Let your partner help you and give you the support you need. it’s better to look at the problem during its initial stage than to only disclose it when it’s all too late.

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              13. Know each other’s schedules.

                It’s helpful to know when the other person is busy and when he/she is free, so that you can drop a text or make a call at the right time. You wouldn’t want to disturb your partner when he/she is in the middle of class or halfway through a business meeting. Know the small and big events that are taking place or will take place in each other’s life e.g. college mid-terms and exams, important business trips and meetings, job interviews and etc. This is especially essential when the both of you are living in different time zones.

                14. Keep track of each other’s social media activities.

                Like each other’s photos on Facebook and Instagram. Tweet each other. Tag each other. Share things on each other’s walls. Show that you care. Be cool about stalking each other.

                15. Gift a personal object for the other person to hold on to.

                  There is power in a memento. Be it a small pendent, a ring, a keychain, a collection of songs and videos, or a bottle of fragrance. We often attach meanings to the little things and items found in our everyday life, whether knowingly or not. This is what we all do — we try to store memories in physical things, in the hope that when our mind fails us, we can look or hold on to something that will help us remember. This is why something so simple can mean so much to a person, when others may see little or no value in it.

                  16. Get a good messaging app.

                  This is extremely important because texting is the most frequent and common way of communication the two of you have. You need a good messaging app on your phones that allow interactions beyond just words and emoticons.

                  Personally, I use this messaging app called LINE. I find it highly effective because it has a huge reserve of playful and very funny “stickers” that are free for its users to use. You can also go to the app’s “Sticker Shop” to download (or gift!) extra stickers of different themes (e.g. Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Snoopy, MARVEL and etc.) at a low price. From time to time, the app also gives out free sticker sets for different promotions. This messaging app is cute and easy to learn to use.

                  17. Snail-mail your gift.

                    Mail each other postcards and hand-written love letters. Send each other gifts across the globe from time to time. Flower deliveries on birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. Shop online and surprise each other with cool T-shirts, sexy underwear and such.

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                    18. Stay positive.

                    You need to be constantly injecting positive energy into the long distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, the waiting can be painful and you can sometimes feel lonely but you need to remind yourself that the fruits at the end will be sweet as heaven. One good trick to staying positive is to be grateful all the time. Be thankful that you have someone to love — someone who also loves you back. Be thankful for the little things, like the hand-made letter that arrived safely in your mailbox the other day. Be thankful for each other’s health and safety.

                    19. Keep each other updated on each other’s friends and family.

                      Because gossips and scandals are always the best things to go on and on about.

                      20. Video-call whenever possible.

                      Because looking into each other’s eyes and hearing each other’s voices can make everything feel alright again.

                      21. Give each other pet names.

                      Because it’s cute. It keeps the lovey-dovey going.

                        If you still aren’t sure how to make your long distance relationship work, try to answer these questions with your partner together:

                        Long Distance Relationship Is No Issue If You Have Great Answers to These Questions!

                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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