September 23, 2009

...And I Would Walk 500 More

Long distance relationships are NOT easy.  In fact, despite knowing early on that Mr. D was the one for me, this past year has probably been the most emotionally draining year that I can remember.  A girl's heart can only miss someone for so long!  Thank goodness we've been fortunate enough to have the money and vacation time to visit each other once every few months; I can't even begin to imagine how these women whom go years without seeing their significant others handle the inevitable sadness that comes with an LDR.

If I could travel back in time, would I do it all over again?  In a heartbeat!

Would I recommend a long distance relationship to anyone?  Well, that's a question without a simple answer.

There's a lot to think about before committing yourself to someone you won't be able to see on a regular basis.  I am, however, always willing to give advice to (or commiserate with) anyone's who's thinking about jumping into an LDR!

Before you decide:

There are some key questions that you need to ask your (potential) significant other so that you are both on the same page.

How often will we see each other?  Consider each of your budgets and the cost of travel and work out a tentative visit schedule.  Being able to physically reconnect with each other is important to keep the spark alive.  Not knowing how long it might be before you see your loved one again is what makes the waiting so difficult.  Mr. D and I have tried to see each other once every two or three months.  Our loosely scheduled visits have played an important role in the success of our relationship!

How will we stay connected each day?  We're lucky to live in the age of technology, in which you can easily (and cheaply!) talk with anyone in any part of the world.  Being able to talk to your SO throughout the day is important to remind each other how important they are to you, and vice versa.  Whether it's texting, email, an online messenger or telephone, find something that works for both of you.

What do you want to get out of our relationship?  I know how hard this question can be to ask in any relationship.  However, an LDR will be a lot of wasted heartache if you and your SO are at different stages in your lives. 

Will you move, or will I?  Because, frankly, a relationship cannot be long distance forever.  If you want it to work, someone will eventually have to move.  Try to consider what's tying each of you to your current locations and when those ties might be broken.  At some point, one (or both) of you will have to compromise.

Do I trust him/her?  If you do not wholeheartedly trust your SO, you might want to reconsider an LDR.  You will drive yourself insane if you let yourself think about the "what-ifs."  Yes, your SO probably has some friends of the opposite gender, and they're probably going to hang.  No, you won't be there to do anything about it.  If you think this is going to bother you, you can talk to him/her about it, but ultimately you're going to have to let go and trust that they love you enough not to stray.  If you don't, the distance isn't going to work. 

So, you've asked yourself all the questions, taken everything into consideration and you're ready to start your long distance relationship.  This is what's helped Mr. Dachshund and I keep our relationship going strong:

Obviously, communication is important in any relationship.  In an LDR it is ABSOLUTELY KEY!  I will not stress this enough to anyone considering an LDR.  "I'm not very good at communicating my feelings," you say?  Well, you're going to have to get over that.  When you can't be with the person that you love, you're bound to experience negative emotions.  Keeping them bottled inside will lead you to resent your partner.  No one's a mind-reader, especially when your SO can't be around you to read your body language.  (S)he may never know something's bothering you!

Let your SO know when the distance is getting to you, or if you've had a particularly bad day.  And, if you're on the receiving side of these feelings, put a little extra effort into expressing your love; it'll be appreciated!

Buy.  A.  Webcam.  Seriously.  A webcam is probably the best investment (other than travel expenses) that you can make for your relationship.  It might sound silly, but actually being able to "see" Mr. Dachshund after a long day always makes me smile.  Even if we just leave the webcams running while we browse the internet or stare at each other, it's very comforting to know that he's there thinking of me. 

Be romantic.  I'm not saying you need to buy a girl flowers once a month, but a cute little romantic gesture every once in a while will go a long way.  Send a letter via snail-mail rather than email.  Send a lovey children's book that expresses the sentiments you feel.  Make sure your SO always feels loved, needed and appreciated!  It's easy to take each other for granted when you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially when there's distance between you.

I could probably go on for a long time on this topic; it definitely hits close to home.  When I asked Mr. D if he had any advice on long distance relationships, he responded with a simple, "have patience."  I think that's a pretty decent summary.  Be patient with each other, with time, and with the relationship itself.

"To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful "magic skills" that human beings are capable of.  It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition."  --Ms. Elizabeth Gilbert

If an LDR is successful, it truly is worth all of the work.  I wouldn't trade what Mr. Dachshund and I have for anything (though I can't wait until he's here for good!)  Because of our long distance relationship, we've been able to learn a lot about each other that we may not have otherwise.  We've learned to be more open with each other and more true to ourselves and our feelings.  It's definitely made us appreciate our time together, too!

For those of you who've been in an LDR, do you have any advice to add?

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