THE ISSUE OF BEING APART
Everywhere I hear about long distance relationships it’s usually people being miserable, stressed out or worried. Missing the partner, anxious about where the relationship is going. Jealousy, distrust, frustration and so on. I rarely meet people who would describe their long distance relationship as balanced and themselves as happy in the current situation. The common assumption is if you really love the other person, you SHOULD be miserable about not being together.
A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
SERIOUSLY. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. You can be in a functional relationship, living apart from your partner AND be happy. All you have to do is change your perspective. I have been in a relationship for about 3,5 years. We have spent 3 of those years in long distance. We have been separated by multiple countries for 1,5 years and each of us living on the opposite side of Germany for the other past 1,5 years. We see each other about two weekends per month, 6 weeks of yearly leave and holidays. And that is fine. We have established a routine and mindset where the issue of being together and living apart is no longer an issue. Of course we would much rather be together but there is no need to be miserable about it. There are ways to look at it differently and discover a number of great advantages that will cheer you up immediately.
1. MAKING AN EFFORT VS. CONVENIENCE
If you are in a serious and functional long distance relationship then this thing between you definitely is for real. You will never be the couple who stays together for the convenience of the other person simply being there. You would not believe how many people date to just date, until someone better comes along. Why go through the trouble with someone you are not sure about? Because your relationship is inconvenient it means that you really want to be together, despite of all the difficulties that come with it. Look at it like a test for your relationship. If you manage to work through it, you know you have a great shot at staying together. If your relationship falls apart then maybe it is good you discovered that you don’t belong together. Either way, you will find out if you have what it takes.
2. INDEPENDENCE VS. COMFORT ZONES
How many people have forgotten the reason why they are still together? And how many of them keep avoiding a break-up out of fear and dependency? Sadly, more than you think. I believe it is much better to be alone than faking a happy relationship. Staying with someone, even though you know something about it feels wrong is terrible, for both parties. I have been in that situation. Luckily I realized it in time and escaped. A long distance relationship rules out any comfort zone and gives you a chance to reflect on your relationship objectively, and see it from a more real angle. You are forced to face your problems independently and be your own woman/man.
3. ROMANCE VS. ROUTINE
Let’s face it, living together changes a relationship drastically. Once you move in together, something irreversible happens and you can never go back. A part of the romance is forever lost. Sure, that is normal and an inevitable part of life. So why not embrace this time of local separation as the most romantic period of your relationship? Meeting your lover in a strange city or country for a romantic get-away, what could be more amazing? Why not enjoy the “doing-your-own-thing-time” and keep the time with your partner as a special treat? I believe that separating the two worlds and making both of them a special occasion is a pretty awesome way to go.
Here is an example. During the week when I am by myself, I do the things I like to do on my personal alone time. I enjoy a nice bath and beauty time after work, doing a face mask and mani-pedi session, wearing my unflattering cozy slouch pant. I make a nice bowl of edamame and popcorn and watch 70s/80s New York movies, that he isn’t into. Carrie Bradshaw would call this my “SSB”. Secret Single Behaviour. Naturally, he has a SSB as well. He likes to start his saturday mornings off with an episode of Naruto anime, playing a match of volleyball, biking over to the turkish deli store and buying some meat for a lamb/Mansaf cook-out. We embrace our time apart and utilize it to our individual preferences. When we are together though, we are on a different routine. We are in “together-mode”. Naturally, we plan exciting outings like romantic mini-breaks to Prague and Stockholm and travels to exotic places. Hiking trips, spa nights, special or casual restaurant visits, cooking a fancy dinner, walking tours, etc. We do the things we enjoy doing together and make sure we make the most of our time.
Not constantly seeing the other person is not a bad thing. Distance makes the hearth grow fonder and keeps your time together special.
4. INDIVIDUALITY VS. COUPLE’S SYNDROME
When you spend a lot of the time apart from your partner, you naturally cultivate personal interests more intensively. There is time to pursue your career goals, hobbies and trying out new activities you have always been wondering about. You are forced to go out without your partner, meet new people and keep your social life active. You get to spend your time on broadening your horizon independently without compromising your time and interests with your partner. This freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted. You will never be in danger of becoming the person with that terrible couple’s syndrome who ditches their friends to spend 100% of their time with her/his boyfriend/girlfriend.
Taking all of that into account, long distance relationships are not the worst thing in the world. Don’t forget, you probably won’t be apart for ever. The trick lies in embracing its differences and becoming aware of the advantages. The most important thing is making plans together and spending the time you have the best way possible.