I have no idea HOW I knew it but I just did.
A fellow high school classmate - one that I met with within the first several months of dating Gentleman Jack who told me I was crazy for dating someone in another state - has just requested my advice on a long distance relationship... with ANOTHER high school classmate.
And P.S. We have an awesome high school graduating class!
She was shocked when I admitted that I'd figured they were seeing each other. They've made every effort to keep it on the down low since the beginning. Funny because I even remember thinking, that night that she pronounced me crazy, that she would one day be in my shoes.
But beyond the "I told you so" part of this, she did ask for some advice.
Basically, I gave her a few rules that I'll restate here for other readers going through similar situations. (Feel free to add your own in the comments.)
- Don't question it - This is one of the most difficult things about being in a long distance relationship. Of course you're going to question it. It hurts too much to be apart from the person you love. But if you've both made a decision to commit, if all signs say yes (thinking the same thoughts, connecting at the same time, weird "coincidences"), then ENJOY WHERE YOU ARE. You're there for a reason.
- Decide/Discuss contact options/availability- This is what Skype is for. Use texting, long phone conversations, instant messaging, whatever you agree upon to remain in contact. Even Xtranormal is fun for those wanting a new way to instant message. Decide and agree on your expectations for contact as well. Not many want to be chained to their phones 24/7.
- Be FULLY present when you are together - It's so easy for your feelings to turn to depression when you know your physical time together is almost over. Try to share your thoughts and feelings with your lover but also remember to bring yourself back to the present moment. You won't want to remember your last few moments together thinking about how sad you were. Make the most of your time together.
- Communicate and Respect - Talk about your feelings, your fears, your good days and bad. Check in on each other and listen. Be a best friend to your partner. Friendship is a solid foundation for a relationship of any kind. Make sure you're on the same page in the present and your dreams for the future. Respect their feelings, concerns and needs and offer the same respect to yourself!
- Build trust - Building trust takes time. It takes even longer across the miles. Each of you should remember this and do what you can to offer reassurance in your long distance romance. Take and send pictures of where you are. Use FourSquare to check in. Text your love and let them know how your day is going. When you're together physically, take them to your favorite hang out places, introduce them to your friends, let them see how you live your life, share yourself with them. That way, they'll feel comfortable when you say you're enjoying sushi at your favorite restaurant.... because they enjoyed sushi there with you one day too!
- Offer understanding - Be understanding when your partner needs reassurance. It is absolutely normal for your significant other to worry about you, who you're spending time with, what you're up to. What isn't normal, however, is if your partner gets angry at you for living your life. It is still YOUR life... and no one should have a say in the matter except you. Remember your boundaries. We're creating strong bonds of interdependence here! Not codependence!
- Remember YOU are responsible for your peace of mind - Yes, your partner can and should offer reassurance if you're feeling weak or insecure. However, there are some times that fear can drive you out of your mind. Your partner may or may not be accessible to help you through those things. Try to separate what's real versus what you're making up in your mind. You could very easily jump to a conclusion or assumption that isn't the truth at all because you're alone to obsess about it. Find a way to distract yourself. Find a friend, a routine or exercise or meditation or prayer that calms you so that you don't rely on your long distance love to "fix" it for you. Learn to calm your fears without expectation of your partner to do it for you.
- Take care of you - As with any relationship, don't let yourself go because you can't get your mind off of this new exciting relationship. This advice is even more prevalent to those in LDR's because we spend so much time trying to stay in touch with our partner that we would otherwise be taking care of ourselves! Honor your time to yourself. Offer and request the same of your partner. If your body feels healthy, your mind will too. And vice versa! Take care of your body, your mind, your spirit, your household, your children (if any), and for goodness sakes, spend time with your friends and family! Fill yourself up with the love all around you in your life! Hopefully, your lover will do the same in his or her own life as well.
- Have faith - My girlfriend, when I told her this last bit of advice, said, "Yes, I know I should trust that he'll do what he says he's going to do so we can be together." But I'm not saying, "Have faith in him." What I'm saying is, Have faith in the plan. Whatever the "plan" is. Something brought you two together for some reason. It may or may not be forever. Don't fret. Be where you are. Have faith that everything works out the way it's supposed to.... and either way, you WILL be okay. Stay present in love so that past fear doesn't win.
- Masturbate - This last one was suggested by Gentleman Jack. *giggle* He's right though! For those of us with overactive libidos, masturbation (and even phone sex!) definitely helps during those times when you can't be with the love of your life. Also, as an added bonus, it keeps up the stamina for when you can be together and you're squeezin' all the lovin' you can into a 2 or 3 day weekend.
...at least, that's the way I've enjoyed a 2+ year long distance relationship with my man. I wish I would have had some of this advice before I was married... or hell even before my last relationship. I believe some of what I've learned could bring two WHOLE people together into one AMAZING relationship.
Don't you think?