Long Distance Relationships: What Are Your Chances of Success?
So you’ve met someone, and it’s going really well, but… they live far away. Maybe in another part of the country, or perhaps in another country altogether. Most of your friends tell you you’re crazy for sticking with it, that it’ll never work, and that you may as well bail out now before it ends in tears. But then there are those lucky few, the fortunate couples who made it through the hardships and ended up living happily ever after. Obviously you’d like to join the ranks of those fairytale endings, but how realistic are you about your chances of success?
First of all, it’s important to make sure that the relationship is as strong and stable as it needs to be. Aside from the strain that distance can put on the bonds between people, it’s actually quite easy to get along with someone you don’t have to live with on a daily basis. You don’t get the opportunity to experience their annoying habits, and you don’t have to put up with the little things that might drive you crazy in large doses. Missing someone can lead to feelings of wanting to be with them all the time, and when you only get a few days or a week together between long stretches of absence, you’re usually willing to overlook the things you normally would address, in the interest of maximizing your time together and not wasting it on seemingly petty arguments. It’s also tempting to blame any or all scuffles on the distance, but when you’re assessing how serious you are about this relationship, make sure you’re honest with yourself about whether the problems between you and your partner are truly all because of your separation, or if they’re things you expect would continue to be issues even after you’re reunited.
You also have to ask yourself what you expect the endgame to be. Clearly, it doesn’t make sense to live hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other forever, so what’s the eventual plan? Couples in long-distance relationships tend to cope with the difficulties of being apart by telling themselves, “It’s only temporary,” but too many of them don’t actually sit down and figure out just how long “temporary” is going to be, and what exactly will happen after that. Eventually, one or both of you is going to have to move. Ask yourself if you are prepared to do that — are you willing to give up your job, social life, and proximity to your family to be with the one you love? If not, is your partner prepared to be the one to move? Are you certain of those answers? Have you actually talked about the specific issues involved? It’s easy to get swept up in the sentiment of, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, we’ll do anything to be together,” and it can really sting later to find out that you were assuming your partner would move to be with you, and they were assuming exactly the opposite, and neither of you is willing to budge.
As difficult and time-consuming as it can be, it really pays to be extra sure about everything in a long-distance relationship. Since you don’t have the benefit of being there to experience the other person’s body language or subtle mood shifts, it is very important for both of you to articulate your feelings in very specific ways, using the tools available to you. Whether you communicate on the phone or via e-mail, make sure you discuss the specifics of what you both want from the relationship, how you expect the situation to progress, and what each of you wants the final outcome to be. It seems like a hassle, and it is, but if you’re strong enough to deal with a long-distance relationship, then it follows that you should both be willing to do what it takes to make sure everything is organized and neither of you is confused about what’s going on in the other person’s head. Sure, it can be scary, because there’s always the possibility that you don’t end up hearing the answers you want. But keep in mind that you’re just as likely to strengthen the relationship by communicating effectively; and finding out the truth now, regardless of what it is, can save a lot of heartache in the long run.