Many couples who face time apart give up on their relationship because they believe long-distance "never works." But the truth is that it absolutely can, if partners engage in the following behaviors.
I'm a big believer that long-distance relationships can work, but I also acknowledge that they aren't easy.
Anthony and I met long-distance, and were long-distance for about a year and a half in the beginning of our relationship before I moved to Denver.
We had mutual friends and a shared network, but we didn't even meet until after we had been talking for a couple of months. Even at the time at which I'm writing this, we've spent more time in our relationship in different states than face-to-face. (Although quarantining together has done a LOT to speed up the getting-used-to-each-other process, I can tell you. 😉)
Because the entire first year and a half of our relationship was spent in different states, we had to find a way to get to know each other and to establish a shared relationship foundation in spite of the distance. Before our relationship, I wouldn't have understood what I'm about to say, but having been through it, I really believe that the challenge to get to know each other from several states away actually forced us to create really strong communication habits from the start.
Why? Read on.
1. No distractions. (Cue the Beck song.)
We got to know each other in an environment completely free of distractions, where we were forced to completely focus on each other.
On FaceTime, we didn't get a cute date setup. We couldn't pay attention to our food or a hike or a loud bar or people-watching, because all we had was FaceTime and each other. When we ran out of things to say, we couldn't throw it all out the window and make out.
2. The distance required us to talk.
We had to TALK. And talk, and talk, and talk. There was literally nothing else for us to do. (And yes, that was sometimes kind of a drag.)
BUT. That much talking ended up being AWESOME for our relationship. It allowed us to assess our compatibility and deepen our connection in ways that we might have otherwise bypassed.
We had to get to know each other, and have deep, person-to-person conversations about what each of us needed and wanted in life. About our favorite colors and career aspirations and what kind of house each of us wanted in the next 10 years and what our families were like and what we wanted in a partner. We had to talk about the good, deep, juicy stuff, because there was literally nothing else to do.
3. "Taking it slow" was our only option.
Ever wonder why you get REALLY attracted to someone and think you know them super-well and then find out later that they have a weird baby teeth collection or they have 6 children? It's because a lot of us tend to go too fast. And that's usually either because of sexual chemistry or internal wiring that tells us WE NEED THIS PERSON AND THEY ARE THE ONE, even though mayyyybe we've only been on like, 3 dates with them.
Long-distance is an opportunity to slow down. To smell the roses. To get to know the person in front of you and to figure out: "DO they have 6 hidden children in Russia?!?" To get to know someone on a deeper level, and THEN decide if they are the one for you.
The good news? You'll know eventually (or even pretty quickly!) if they are NOT the one, because eventually, when you talk to a person enough, red flags or small unsettling tells of their creepy teeth collection will tend to come out. 🤓 Yikes. Fun!
The final word: distance actually made my relationship BETTER, and I have reason to believe that it could make your relationship better, too.
Whether your relationship is recently long-distance due to a career move, you're getting to know a new cutie remotely due to COVID restrictions, or, like me, you have a semi-permanent remote situation that can't be changed right away, distance can actually be an opportunity to improve your communication and bond with your partner.
Getting to know a new special someone remotely can be challenging, but it has the potential to endow you with communication superpowers that can serve you (and your relationship!) for years to come.
Being forced to have "the big" conversations, take it slow, and focus on each other puts you in an entirely different context than most of modern dating - it's essentially the total opposite of a hookup, and forces you to get to know someone and decide on them pretty quickly. Do you like this person enough to talk to them instead of do the millions of other things you could be doing right now? Do you have enough in common (and interesting differences!) to talk for hours? If not, maybe you're not aligned - and better to find out now than months (or years!) down the road.
I won't say that long-distance is easy or even ideal, but I do think that it can be an opportunity for creativity and creating deep, long-lasting connection.
Where in your love life might you be able to turn a less-than-ideal situation into an opportunity for connection?