Happily maintaining a relationship can be tricky at the best of times, but long distance ones come with their own set of obstacles which can make them even more difficult to navigate.
Being far apart, not knowing when you’ll next see one another and a lack of physical intimacy can make long distance relationships seem daunting and tough, but as someone whose relationship has recently become long distance, I’ve realised that they also come with their own unique set of benefits. I’m not saying that living in a different city or country to your partner is the preferred option, I’d definitely rather it weren’t the case, but part of staying healthy and happy is seeing the positive in any situation.
For those couples who have had to move back home due to Coronavirus, or for those who can’t see each other because of local lockdowns, or have maybe always been in LDRs, here are the surprising plus-sides to being long distance.
You have time to focus on other relationships
It’s easy to get swept up in romantic relationships and lose sight of the people in your life that matter, I think most of us have been guilty of this at some point. Being apart from your significant other means you can’t focus on that one person, so you have time to nurture other relationships that might not be prioritised otherwise. You’ll end up spending lots more time with friends and family, which can only be a good thing.
You’re forced to be more independent
Having to sort things out on your own when you're down or something goes wrong might feel a bit rubbish and lonely. But it also comes with the positive of making you a more independent, rather than inter-dependent person. It’s hard for someone far away to cheer you up or fix something in your day, so you build on your own self-sufficiency. And when you do need them, hopefully they’re only a phone call away.
The time you do spend together is more memorable and meaningful
The time you do get to spend with one another becomes altogether more precious, so you’ll both go the extra mile to make it feel special. When apart you have plenty of time to make lists of things to do together, whether it’s Netflix series, new restaurants or places to explore. Either way, you appreciate being together more, so it doesn’t really matter what you end up doing.
You’ll both become experts in communication
To put it bluntly, long distance just won’t work unless you both really understand each other. You’ll learn the best way to keep your partner happy through the difficulties of being apart, and learn how to tell them what you need in return. This will add to the richness of your relationship in general and will be felt in the time spent together.
You’ll get creative in how you spend time together, apart
Thank goodness for modern technology, as it’s possible to do all sorts of things to feel close to your partner despite the distance. You might set up a Netflix Party/ Zoom date that’ll allow you to watch something at the same time, or video chat while you make the same meal and sit down to eat it “together”. Obviously, it’s nothing on actually spending time with each other, but it’s a pretty solid substitute.
In a fast paced world, it’s a practice in patience
The feeling of urgency when you’re missing your partner can be pretty intense, so you end up learning to be an expert in the art of waiting. As they say, patience is a virtue, and excelling in this will only make things easier.
The knowledge that if your relationship can survive the distance, it can survive most things
There’s nothing quite like the poignancy that comes with wanting to be with your partner and not being able to, it can be emotionally exhausting and gruelling. However, getting through it only makes your relationship stronger and better equipped at dealing with the small things.
You find out if you’re really serious about each other
When you can’t see each other, you find out whether it’s lust or love. The only way LDRs can work is if you’re both fully committed, so they can be a make or break for some couples. However, if you both think it’s worth it, it’s because you really love one another.
According to Dr. Crystal Jiang from the department of communication at the City University in Hong Kong: “Long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”
They’re not straightforward and they might not be for everyone, but long distance relationships can be a really worthwhile and a special thing if it’s with the right person.
Written by Lilly Subbotin