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How to Be in a Long Distance Relationship and Not Fuck It Up

by Dawn Davis Feb 1, 2018

People will discourage staying in a long distance relationship. Ignore them and give it chance.

Unless your relationship was already unstable before moving abroad, let it play out. Remember that the first 6 months are the worst. It becomes more tolerable as you adjust to the distance. Sometimes I even enjoy the space and freedom my LDR allows me to experience. I get the whole bed to myself and I never have to argue about what’s for dinner. The pros will never outweigh the cons, but try to be a glass-half-full kind of person.

Don’t let your relationship hold you back from living abroad.

If your partner won’t allow you to achieve your international goals, you might want to reconsider dating them. Of course, they will be super bummed to see you leave for so long, but if they aren’t willing to deal with that for the sake of your happiness, they’re probably not worth it. Explain why you want to chase this opportunity so they don’t think you’re just leaving them behind.

Trust is KEY. Discuss your boundaries before you leave. Stick to them while you’re gone.

Will you be in an open relationship? Can you be intimate with other people while you’re gone? Will you be monogamous? Will you talk every day? Every week? Twice a day? Will you visit one another? Ask questions. Lots of them. If you leave assuming that this is a break from your relationship and do something regrettable, it will get messy. Wounds are difficult to mend when you live thousands of miles apart. Live honestly and trust that your partner will too.

You will probably meet another charming traveler/foreigner/local. Don’t rush to end your long-term relationship over a fleeting crush.

Just avoid cheating altogether. When I lived in South Korea and Japan, almost all of my peers in LDRs cheated on their partners. Sometimes more than once… This was unsettling to watch. You are likely to meet attractive, charismatic people when you live abroad. Stay platonic if you want to make your monogamous relationship work.

Communicate often. Facetime and Skype are necessary.

Schedule Skype dates for a specific day and time if you have to. Even when you’re busy enjoying your life in a foreign country, don’t forget about your partner back home. This will be your primary method of face-to-face communication. Even if you only do it once a week, seeing your partner’s face makes all the difference. Oh, and send selfies. I hate doing this because it feels awkward and artificial, but they are greatly appreciated. If you’re comfortable with sending a sexy photo/text every once in a while, they’ll do wonders for maintaining intimacy.

Consider the time difference.

Before you send that text, check what time it is where they live. If it’s 4am, do not send the text. This goes for any form of communication that may wake them up or disturb them at work or school.

Send gifts, postcards, and thoughtful messages to your partner. These gestures are sincerely appreciated.

There are few instances that I felt happier than when I got mail from people back home, especially my boyfriend. My favorite gift was always American candy that isn’t available in other countries. Hint hint.

Every visit won’t be ideal and that’s okay.

Just because you’re overseas doesn’t mean that you won’t fight. You’ve adjusted to spending more time independently. Now your partner is sleeping in your twin bed, taking up too much space, and stealing all the blankets. They’ve flown all the way across the world to spend time with you. So cut them some slack if they arrive jetlagged and lethargic. Trying to load each day with activities generally sucks for both partners. Just enjoy being together.

Don’t forget why you love them.

All that time apart may blur your memory. You may feel distant from them physically and emotionally. This was a tough one for me as I was so preoccupied with work that I had trouble balancing my LDR. My anxiety was through the roof, but nobody helped me through it as much as my boyfriend. That selflessness is something I’ll never forget. The little, periodic reminders of our devotion to one another kept me sane and grounded for our year and a half apart. Stay by your partner’s side even if they’re 5,000 miles away. Eventually, you’ll be back together and it’ll all be totally worth it.

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