We might as well face it, long-distance relationships are tough.
However, there is good news. Long-distance relationships can massively strengthen and deepen the bond you and your partner have. So, before you go around saying someone is “geographically undesirable,” here’s five lessons my long-distance relationship taught me (and, if we’re honest here, my husband was desirable regardless of where his physical location is on this universe).
Talk About Meaningful Things
Most of us already know that communication is the foundation for a strong, lasting relationship. If the communication process breaks down and one partner closes up or refuses to talk about what matters to them, separation is almost inevitable (we’re talking emotional here).
The thing is, when I was around my boyfriend in person, life was perfect. We talked about stuff that mattered to us, but if ever a conversation got difficult, I could always stare into his eyes, or be comforted in his arms. Let’s just say chemistry covers a multitude of sins.
Without Elisha’s physical presence, all I had was his voice . . . his words. If we wanted to hang out, we had to be communicating. I mean, there were some times we just sit there quiet over the phone for minutes, or I’d listen to him play guitar over FaceTime, but the majority of our time was spent communicating. You can only flirt for so long over the phone, and we turned to topics of our future, what bothered us, what we were struggling with, what we loved.
Talk. Talk. Talk. Unlike what you may expect, an intentional long-distance relationship can actually increase the depth of your communication instead of diminish it.
When you’re head over heels for someone, it’s easy to show them love through physical affirmation. However, when you’re long-distance you are forced to learn to comfort each other with your words, to learn how to make the other person feel loved even when you can’t see or feel their presence. For Elisha and I, this meant going deeper, and learning to use words of affirmation, gift-giving, quality-time (my personal favorite), or even acts of service to show appreciation and love. It can take more time and effort than just caressing your partner, but I feel that in the long-run, Elisha and I are much more prepared to work at loving one another in marriage, in ways we may not initially expect.
Yeah, long-distance adds stress to relationships. However, I don’t think this is a bad thing. In marriage, stress is going to be a real factor, and it can be good to see how your partner reacts to stress. Do they shut down? Do they want to quit? Are they eager to keep fighting for your relationship? My respect for Elisha massively grew, as I saw his unwillingness to give up on us, and his desire to love me, even when I couldn’t see through the stressful situation myself.
When you’re long-distance, you have to trust your person. Are they going to share everything about their lives, or just the good things? I’ll admit, it was embarrassing to tell Elisha I wasted an evening watching a show on YouTube that was not beneficial. But seeing him open up to me, and tell me things I didn’t “need” to know, made me feel more confident sharing all aspects of my life with him. Even a state away, he was my accountability.
It can build more trust to have someone voluntarily share with you, than to constantly snoop on their lives. It also is encouraging to hear from present friends and family that your significant other is the same person when you’re not around, as when you are.
You Need Time In Person
There are many benefits to having a long-distance relationship, but know this: you need time in person. Relationships shouldn’t be built on distance alone. It’s so easy to fake when you’re miles apart. Elisha and I needed time to validate, in-person, what we told each other over the phone. We needed to see if he clicked with my family, if I connected with his friends, if we enjoyed the same hobbies and had similar values when it came to how we spent our time. We also needed input from friends who knew us well. Do you guys “go” together? Are you a better person around your Significant Other, or do they bring out a side you friends are hesitant about?
I may be “The Love Expert” in my sister’s phone contacts, but in reality, I’m obviously just in the beginning stages of navigating this world of eternal commitment and self-less love. I’ve had my share of relationship mistakes, but as a girl, I always enjoyed reading about what other women have learned, so here is a bit of my journey.