12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Long-Distance Relationship

1. Don’t forget how crucial physical contact is

Perhaps the biggest challenge in most long distance relationships is the inability to get enough physical contact with your partner. This might seem very obvious to you, and you might even think that you already know what you’re getting into. However, I can honestly tell you that if you haven’t been in a long-term relationship where most of it was spent away from your partner, you can’t even begin to understand how difficult it can get! To illustrate, you’re right in the middle of a sweet dream where you’re spending a wonderful time together with the person you’re in love with. You might be on a date at your favorite restaurant or even just cozying up to each other on the sofa at home. Things are getting hot and then suddenly – you wake up. Now, imagine that soul-crushing feeling of loneliness when cold hard reality sinks in. Your sweetheart should be right next to you, but they are not. That’s not even the only time when the loneliness can hit you like a brick wall. It can happen anywhere and at the most unexpected times. You could be out having a good day shopping at the mall, and suddenly you see a couple walking together hand in hand. The blissful smiles on their faces make you yearn to hold your partner’s hand. But they are miles and miles away… While it will be very difficult for anyone to overcome the lack of physical contact in a relationship, it can be even harder for some people. If you’re the type who must always have physical intimacy with your partner or can only feel secure with the assurance of constant physical contact, then know this: when there’s a vast distance between you and your loved one, you can’t just ask them to hug you or even give you a playful kiss on the cheek. You must keep your yearning in check and only get your dose of physical contact by scheduling a time to meet up. Sometimes, this could mean months or even a year of absolutely no touching at all.

2. Realize that your partner will be spending time with someone else when you’re not around

If you’re together with someone, but they are far away most of the time, it’s only expected that you won’t be spending most of your time together. Naturally, your partner will socialize and hang out with their friends without you around. He or she won’t always be there to answer your text messages within seconds. The problem is that some people will feel like they are being neglected when their partner spends time away from them. It could be especially frustrating when your sweetheart seems to be having a lot of fun, but without you. If you’re somebody who tends to be clingy and requires a lot of attention, you might want to reconsider getting yourself into a long distance relationship. You’ll turn the relationship into an unhealthy one if you demand your partner to always spend their time chatting or calling you.

3. If you live in different time zones, it could add salt to wound

It’s already extremely difficult spending so much time apart. If both of you live in vastly different time zones, it could make the relationship even harder to keep. If you’re only one or two hours apart, then it could be easily overcome. All you need to do is to make some small adjustments to your daily routine to ensure that you have time for your partner. However, some people are separated by 10 or even 14 hours. When you’re awake, your partner might be sleeping, making it almost impossible to have some together time every single day. However, some couples have managed to overcome the challenges that huge time differences give. It’s not impossible to work out a solution that could work for both of you, but it will take nothing short of ingenuity and total commitment. Should you and your partner live in very different time zones, try and figure out a solution together. Usually, some sort of compromise on both sides will be needed.

4. You’ll mainly be using technology to communicate with each other

While it’s great that we can use technology to make it much easier to connect compared to the old days where snail mail is the only way, it’s still not like talking face to face to each other. The problem is that sometimes you might find yourself just sick of texting and your fingers get sore from holding on to your phone all the time. Furthermore, not everyone is very tech savvy. There are also times when the technology you’re using to communicate an urgent message just refuses to work. Your internet might be experiencing a problem, your app might crash, or the photo you’ve spent more than 15 painstaking minutes to take to get that perfect angle just won’t load. You might think that with such advancements in technology today, it might not be that different from communicating like couples who live in close distances. Well, I can assure you that it’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes when technology doesn’t work the way you want it to, it can cause more stress than dealing with a long distance relationship!

5. You must have a solid plan to get to being together indefinitely

One of the biggest mistakes that couples committed in a long distance relationship is not having concrete plans for ending their long distance way of life and finally being truly together. You might think that you don’t need to have a plan at least in the first few years of your long distance relationship. However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth. Not having a detailed plan on how to ultimately get together means you’re wasting both your time not moving towards the ultimate goal. Imagine that after a few years suffering through so many heartaches of being apart and finally sitting down with your partner to plan it all out, you realize that you still need a few more years to really close that distance for good. You could have already used those years apart working towards the goal, and you’d have already made it. That could be a real mental blow to both of you. It’s absolutely crucial to create a plan as soon as possible. If you go into a long distance relationship, both of you must be fully committed right from the get-go. There’s no room for testing the waters or think that you can decide later to see if you want to go on with the relationship. If you’re not ready to commit, then it’s probably not the right relationship for you.

6. Trust and commitment hold the key to a successful long distance relationship

While it’s true that trust and commitment are important for even normal relationships to work, they are even more crucial in long distance relationships. When you don’t get to see your partner most of the time, that could easily lead to feeling insecure or suspicious. There are three things which are fundamental in a long distance relationship – always keep your promises, be 100% honest, and totally committed to making the relationship work, even when it gets difficult at times. If any of these key ingredients are missing, your long distance relationship will start to unravel at the seams. You’re either all in or completely out, no halfsies allowed! Should you find yourself having any doubts at all about being in a relationship with somebody who’s thousands of miles away, you probably should have a serious but honest talk with your sweetheart. Otherwise, you’ll be a ticking time bomb in a relationship which hasn’t even started yet.

7. Rules are not meant to be broken

There are people who absolutely hate rules and refuse to let any rules govern their relationship. However, rules are definitely needed when you’re in a long distance relationship. It’s not that you need to set guidelines for everything, but you do need to agree on some boundaries. Without being able to see your partner all the time, long distance relationships are already built on a shaky foundation. It there are no rules to keep things in order and to provide assurance, it could easily lead to misunderstandings and necessary heartaches. For example, the girlfriend had to move away for a job. The couple decided to continue their relationship long distance-style but without setting any rules. Because the girl moved to a new city and had no friends, she started to join parties and meet with people up from online websites to socialize. Meanwhile, the boyfriend’s life was basically unchanged, except that a big chunk of his time was suddenly empty because his partner wasn’t around anymore. When he found out that she’d been meeting up strange men and hanging out with them, he became insecure and jealous. He didn’t want to come across as needy, so he didn’t say anything. She, on the other hand, was oblivious to her partner’s unhappiness and had less time for him because of her exciting new life. Do you think a long distance relationship like that will last? What the couple should have done is that before she went away, he should tell her that he’s not comfortable with her meeting strange men. They should also have established a rule where they must communicate every day to avoid any misunderstandings. Before heading into a long distance relationship, try to discuss extensively what you think you’d be comfortable with and what you won’t with your partner. Try to cover everything and in as many details as possible. Many times, it’s that one thing that couples didn’t discuss which leads to the failure of the long distance relationship.

8. You have to be mentally mature

Long distance relationships are a big test of how well you handle stress and being alone. Life can be quite empty since you’ll have to live with a void where your partner won’t be able to fill if they are far away. On the other hand, you also can’t get anyone else to fill that void because that would be cheating. To be in a healthy long distance relationship means that you’ll need to be self-sustaining and mentally stable enough. If you’re the type who acts out because your partner wasn’t there when you needed them or can’t handle being alone, then a long distance relationship might not be something for you. It’s not that long distance relationships can’t be stable and healthy. It’s just that both of you need to be stable and healthy yourselves to maintain the relationship. Otherwise, things will spiral out of control and someone is bound to get hurt in the end.

9. Know that long distance relationships cost money to maintain

Although every relationship will require some sort of financial commitment, long distance ones typically require more. In a normal relationship, you can deliver gifts you made to your partner yourself to celebrate a special occasion. When your partner is thousands of miles away, you need to pay for packaging and shipping cost. Not only that, you have to send gifts more frequently to remind your partner of you. You can’t just hop over to their house to do that like normal couples do. Apart from gifts, those planned visits are the fuel that keeps a long distance relationship going. If you can’t even afford to spend money to visit your partner, you might not be able to maintain the relationship. Before getting into a long distance relationship, you’ll have to analyze your financial situation first. Can you afford regular visits? Can you afford to send frequent gifts? If you’re not able to do any of these, you might want to reconsider being with someone who’s so far away. Moreover, if neither of you is financially stable, it could mean that it will take an extremely long time before you can achieve the ultimate goal of closing the distance for good.

10. Good communication skills are essential

Since your main form of communication will be through technology, you won’t be able to express your thoughts using many different communication cues. While text messages are great to send a message instantly and conveniently, it can be misunderstood. Without things like the tone of voice or body language, an innocent message could easily be taken out of context. Even with calling on the phone or video skyping, misunderstandings could happen in just a blink of an eye if you’re not good at communicating your true feelings. Because your partner didn’t spend the entire day with you, they won’t know the circumstances that surround your statements. If you don’t explain everything thoroughly and in details, a harmless statement could backfire and cause an argument. For a long distance relationship to succeed, both parties have to be calm, patient and understanding with each other. Don’t always just jump to conclusions and get emotional before communicating your concerns calmly and sincerely first. You’ll always have to talk about your feelings, what you want out of the relationship, and how you’re trying to cope with your partner being so far away. If you can’t express all these emotional issues well, your partner might feel that you’re blaming them for your unhappiness. Communication really is key for a long distance relationship to work. Remember that your partner can’t read your mind, you must tell them exactly what you are thinking or they won’t be able to help.

11. You can’t be selfish anymore

Although you can’t be too selfish in any relationship, there’s almost no room for that in a long distance relationship. You always have to think about your partner’s needs and sometimes even put that above your own. For example, if your partner isn’t feeling well or has anxiety attacks for being alone, you probably should skip out on your social plans and try and stay home to be with them. Your sacrifice will make them feel that the relationship is real, solid, and that you’ve got their back. On the other hand, if you don’t have plans for the weekend and want your partner to Skype with you, but they have already made other plans, it might be better to let them go out. Not being selfish could also mean spending your money on your partner instead of on yourself. Your partner will appreciate your sacrifices and will be more inclined to do the same, keeping the relationship happy and healthy.

12. Long distance relationships are not for the weak

Because you and your partner won’t get to see each other all the time, you will fight a lot, even over the smallest things. It’s not because you are bad people, it’s just that it’s extremely hard being away from someone you love. Not only is it difficult to be there for each other when they need you, but your schedules also can’t synchronize easily if you’re in different time zones. Furthermore, it’s human nature that you can only trust someone when you see them a lot. Trusting your partner who is so far away requires tremendous faith in them and many times you’ll need to have blind faith that you can’t verify. It’s very easy for insecurity and jealousy to sneak up on long distance couples, which could lead to many fights. Almost every waking moment of your time is spent missing your partner. This is enough to put anyone in a bad mood all the time. Add in the stress of trying to synchronize your time, it just makes long distance relationship very difficult to manage. Therefore, you need to be tough and understand that the journey will not be an easy one. Right now you’re probably thinking that long distance relationships are horrible and wondering why would anyone subject themselves to such torture. The point is that there will be someone who is completely worth it. The long distance relationship is not your ultimate goal, it’s just a temporary time in your relationship where you have to endure to reach your ultimate purpose – being together. If both of you are mentally prepared with a lot of trust and love for each other, then it’s likely that you’ll be able to go through the long distance relationship experience together. It’s a massive test of your relationship, but if you emerge victorious, there’s almost nothing that could tear you and your partner apart. Tell us what you think is the most important thing to consider before starting a long distance relationship!

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