Six years ago I watched the person I love pack all his belongings into a U-Haul truck and drive away from our hometown for his first “real job”. I wanted so badly to tear down the road – on foot – and jump in the truck with him. I was in the first year of my graduate degree program with a few more years in front of me. Little did I know on that day, it would not be the first time we would be States and coastlines apart to pursue our dreams and goals. In fact, we have been through periods of long distance for at least half of our relationship. Welcome to LDRs, Daily Love Readers – Long Distance Relationships.
When reading the “What’s In This Long Distance ” post from a Daily Share Reader a few weeks ago, the thoughts of that day entered my mind. I read the words of a person who knows intuitively that the person they love is worth riding out the negative aspects, but has moments of doubt, fear and loneliness. I want to share what is my area of expertise: how to deal when it comes to LDRs.
At one point I was feeling lonely and giving my mind permission to roam through the negatives … “why are we doing this?”…“what if he’s seeing someone else?”…“what if I’m not good enough for this person?”… all the crap that you know isn’t true. I turned to the web to try to find a community of support – other people going through the same emotions, self-imposed turmoil and lonely feelings that come with being miles and miles away from the one you love. I needed a TDL in 2005. Welcome to 2011 – you are incredibly blessed to have a site that encourages you to love you, love the people in your life and in the world on a daily basis.
Web resources on LDRs are …eh … not so great. Instead of wallowing in the sad & sappy LDR discussion boards I found online, I decided to put my psychology hat to use and revel in the GOOD that can come from the situation. You have time to focus on you and learn how you can be better in your relationship and other interpersonal relationships as a result of a long-distance love. Take these coaching cues and put them to use in your relationships, near or far.
1.) Stop comparing your relationships to other relationships: This is unhealthy, any way you slice it. You are a unique individual. You love people who a special combination of quirky, funny, sensitive, geeky and a million more possible attributes that combine to create the person you love. Relationships are about finding a flow and a rhythm that works between two people, not about trying to replicate what other people have.
2.) Near or far, you still need your space: You need time to get to know who you are. Instead of wishing you were spending time with that other person, get out of the house. Find what it is that you love and immerse yourself in that. Make connections and friendships with other people. You would do this if you were in the same town or city as your partner; do it from afar, too.
3.) Love, cherish and appreciate small things: An early morning “I love you” or a late night “Sweet Dreams” is so simple and such an easy way to express how you feel without having to launch into a 3 hour conversation on a daily basis. Be realistic about time constraints and value of simple, heartfelt words.
4.) Be Present. This one was a big challenge for me. You look forward to the next time you see your significant other within ten minutes of leaving them. There’s a balance between looking forward and being present. Having a social life where you are is critical to staying in the present. Try new things, explore, make friends – be the interesting person your partner loves.
5.) Communication skills, communication skills, communication skills: Due to schedules or time zone differences, you may only have an hour or less to communicate each day. Learn to convey the important things and how to communicate with your partner. Saying “he or she doesn’t like to talk” doesn’t cut it with the abundance of communication forms available.
6.) Improved trust and intuition. All relationships require openness, honesty and must be built on a foundation of trust. You and your partner should share events of the day or week, friendships being made and other important details about your lives. If your person doesn’t make you feel like a part of their day from afar, this won’t change when you are physically nearer to them.
7.) Tune-ups: Have honest discussions about where your relationship is before you decide to go-the-distance and create “check-ins” as needed. Many people wait until there are problems instead of addressing the little things that may be signals along the way. Approach everything from a place of love and respect.
When you and your partner decide to try the long-distance version of your relationship – whether brought on by an employment opportunity, military deployment, family responsibility or any other life event – create a support system where you are or find one where you land. Share below if you have been in a LDR and how you have coped with or are coping with the emotions you feel. Please leave any other questions you may have in the comments. You are loved, no matter where you may be in life.
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Erin Michelle is a wellness coach & consultant, visit her website here.