How to survive a long distance relationshipJune 15, 2011
Long distance relationships don’t work. Period.
How many times have you heard this being said? How many movies have been made to prove this same thing again and again? Each time I watched one of these movies, hoping against hope that for once they’d brave showing some modicum of confidence in a long distance relationship, I ended up getting disappointed. And my take away from such movies was just that long distance is a relationship killer.
But what do you know? Having been in a long distance relationship myself for over a year now, and tired of looking for tips and motivation on how to make it a happier event, I realized that following the conventions only left me scornful and turned me a cynic. But you know what they say about what happens when the going gets tough. So I moped a little, sighed a little, looked around a bit, and then started finding my own way out. And just in case you are one of those people who, like me, have spent the better part of the movie waiting for the good bit to start, here’s help. No, seriously. Here’s stuff that will actually work, and you can have my word for it.
Talk regularly, but not too frequently
Lame: The key to a successful relationship is communication.
My Two Bits: The key to a successful relationship is intelligent communication.
Yes, talking has to be the only way you can make it work, but you have to know just how frequently to talk to your partner. Talk regularly, but not so often that talking loses its charm. I mean, seriously, do you really think a moment-by-moment update would keep the spark kindling? If anything, it would make conversation mundane, and mundane, I tell you, is just a few weeks away from perfunctory. Having said that though, it is good to sometimes set aside time just to talk for hours at a stretch. In fact I deem it outright necessary that you set aside phone dates, when both of you are not doing anything else but just talking about everything and nothing at all. Intelligent, you see?
Honesty is not always the best policy
Lame: In a relationship you have to be open, and share everything
My Two Bits: In a relationship, you have to be open, and share just what the other person needs to know, nothing less but more importantly, nothing more.
And before you go all moral police on me and say that hiding stuff is not a solution, think of the last time you said a teensy weensy lie to save yourself from bigger trouble. Not that long ago, was it? I am not saying that long distance gives you a right to go ahead and do stuff that your partner wouldn’t want you to do, just because they are away from you. But sometimes, if it makes you happy to do something like that, try keep it to yourself in a way that it doesn’t harm him. This definitely doesn’t count cheating. I cannot condone cheating on your partner to make yourself happy and keep it hidden from them. Apart from that, sometimes, it does feel liberating to do something on your own without having to explain yourself to your partner. And anyway, since you are away from each other, there’s nothing much you can DO to change things for the other person right? Why not just overlook minor differences, and focus on major happiness?
Find something else to occupy you
Lame: Have patience, time will fly fast
My Two Bits: Get yourself a hobby or else time will seem to be going really slow
I swear nothing works better than wrapping yourself around a book, or indulging in a movie marathon or even fiddling with the latest gadget you have got, to keep those sad thoughts at bay. The more you sit around and moan about missing your partner the deeper you will fall into that abyss of helplessness. But shake that miserable feeling off, and nasty though it may sound, forget about your other half for a little while by taking up something else that interests you. Come on! That’s not a crime! Your partner will appreciate your being practical about this whole “missing-you” business too.
Share your thoughts and feelings with your best friend
Lame: Your partner should be your best friend
My Two Bits: Your partner should be your best friend, but it is okay to share stuff you can’t share with them with your other friends.
So I read a lot of books while my partner doesn’t. Or maybe after watching a movie I love to talk about it critically while he doesn’t. Or maybe sometimes I am so pissed at nothing in general that I just want to let it all out without him feeling defensive about it. What do I do regarding this? Now this bit, I learnt from my mother (oh yeah, sometimes heeding Ma’s advice does help!) My mother told me that it is okay, in fact better, if you don’t expect your partner to share all your interests and be at the same wavelength that you are, all the time. Who says you will find all the things you desire in your company in just one person? So, sometimes, if you are dying to talk about something that you are passionate about, and you know that your partner doesn’t share the same level of enthusiasm, go ahead. Talk it out with a friend who does. And if you are really upset about your partner being away from you and just want to whine a little? Just go ahead find a friend who is good enough to be your vent for a while. We all know how whining on the phone doesn’t really help.
Stay away from mush, no matter what
Lame: When you see other couples, be happy for them, that they are together.
My Two Bits: Run away with all your might!
Now you might start having doubts about my judgment with this one, but believe me, this is tried and tested. It is very easy to dole out advice about having a big heart and being happy for others, but practically what happens is that seeing two people get mushy in front of you only makes you miss your partner more. I can’t count the number of times I have felt miserable because I saw couples going out for dates regularly and taking it for granted, when I couldn’t even see my guy! And although it may be a cowardly and petty solution, staying away from such people actually worked in my case. I feigned ignorance about their existence just because I couldn’t see them, and lo and behold, the world was a better place to live in. I stopped complaining to my fiancé about how it is so not fair that they get to spend time together when we don’t, and he was spared endless nights of having to fruitlessly console a sobbing emotional fool on the phone.
Think of how it is going to be when you are together
Lame (Not!): Anticipation is a feeling that you must learn to enjoy too.
My Two Bits: Nothing to add to it. It is actually true!
You know what they say about the journey being better than the destination? I have become so used to having some sort of countdown or the other going on all the time, that I have actually started enjoying them. This moment that you are living now, in anticipation of meeting your partner some day in the future, is not going to come again. And thinking about it, and talking about it to your partner, planning things that you will do together, these all are the most beautiful part of a long distance relationship! I can tell you it is because for the past one year I have done nothing but this. And when you are together, make sure you have a hell of a good time, because the kick will help you survive the imminent separation in the not so distant future. Don’t be like me and keep counting down the hours and then the minutes until you guys have to go away from each other, and instead focus on the moment!
So there you go. I could always ask you to look at the brighter side, and point out advantages of having a long distance relationship (not having to think of anyone else when making weekend plans, more me-time, more frequent all-girls/guys day/night out) but we all know that after a while the grass invariably starts looking greener on the other side. Take my word, refute anyone who says long distance doesn’t work, and say it until you believe in it yourself. Don’t watch movies which reinforce the statement. And if time-zones are a problem, like it is with me, don’t fret over weird sleep cycles and office hours and instead try make the most out of the time when you can talk. And understand the fact that to make the exceptional happen, you have to be exceptional yourself.
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