Relationships in general are a difficult thing to manage. While they can be extremely rewarding and add great depth and color to our lives, they can also be stressful and emotionally taxing.
However, when you add distance into the mix, things get even tougher. Even just being a few hours apart can create tension and make things complicated. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Long-distance relationships also have their place. They allow both parties to develop themselves independently while giving each person something stable to which they can return.
In fact, in some cases, distance is necessary. For example, if one partner gets an amazing opportunity that’s far away, it’s only fair that both parties should sacrifice so that each person can pursue their own goals and dreams.
No matter what though, as with all experiences in life, long-distance relationships are great learning opportunities.
Of course, everyone’s relationship will be different, but here are some of the things you can learn by staying connected with someone even at long distances:
Learn How to Be Truly Independent (and Have a Healthy Relationship)
While there is always going to be a certain amount of interdependence when it comes to relationships (we get into them to support and help one another), codependency is not good.
For those who don’t know, codependence is when one or both parties relies too much on the other person for their own happiness. In most cases, one person takes on the role of “caretaker” and the other person takes advantage of this situation.
In codependent relationships, people tend to act in ways that are against their best interest. They put up with things that are harmful, ignore their own needs, or go out of their way to please the other person even if it’s bad for them.
Eventually, codependent relationships end, and they are often very taxing and painful.
If you have a long-distance relationship, you pretty much can’t be codependent. The space between you means you must learn to care for yourself and create the conditions of your own happiness. Then, when you do get to see your partner, you will be able to share that happiness and truly enjoy the time you have with one another.
Many people think they're independent but it’s not until they're in these situations that they realize where they need to improve.
No matter what happens with the relationship, learning to be independent is a key part of growing up, and it’s something you’re bound to learn by staying with someone at a distance.
Learn to Practice Open Communication
Anyone who has ever been in a somewhat serious relationship knows that communication is critical to its health and well-being. When two people are trying to move through life together, it’s essential that both parties know how to express themselves and actually do so when the time is right.
Again, this is important no matter the nature of your relationship, but it is absolutely essential in long-distance situations. This is because the distance can cause things to fester. If something is bothering someone, and they don’t say it, or express it inadequately, then all that time apart is going to cause either or both parties to spiral into their heads, exaggerate things, make up stories, etc.
Then, when you do see each other, things will bubble over, there will probably be a fight, and the relationship will suffer.
The quicker you learn how to openly and honestly express yourself and communicate in a long-distance relationship, the better chance you have of “making it.” And even if the relationship doesn’t work out, you’ll walk away from this experience fully aware of how important communication is to any human relationship.
Learn to Trust
Another hallmark of a healthy relationship is trust. In fact, if there’s not complete and total trust, then the relationship is doomed.
In a long-distance relationship, trust usually gets put to the test. There will often be long periods of time in which you don’t talk or see each other, and both parties have to be fully confident that the other is still 100 percent committed to the relationship.
This is often very difficult for people who have never been in this type of relationship before. But if you’re serious about making it work, you have to learn how to trust, limit your jealousy and in these types of situations, you most likely will.
Learn to Put in the Work
Lastly, relationships, no matter how healthy and loving, require a certain amount of work. You need to make time for each other, put effort into learning each other’s mannerisms, create space for each person to express themselves, and understand and respect boundaries.
Yes, there should be a great deal of ease and flow in a good relationship. But both parties need to take it seriously for it to work.
In long-distance relationships, the work is typically more involved. Therefore, when you’re in these situations, you will likely see much more clearly what it is you need to do to help a relationship flourish and be the boon to your life it should be. Learning your partner’s love language can help as well, putting in the work to show acts of service, give romantic gifts, or spending quality time, are all things that may all look different when there is significant distance between you. You can then apply this to future relationships, or use it to help you keep perspective as your current relationship grows and the distance shrinks.
Take the Leap and Learn to Love
There’s no doubt that long-distance relationships can be difficult. But they can also be a lot of fun and very rewarding. And, no matter what happens, you will learn a lot about yourself, relationships, and how to love.
In the end, that’s what life is all about. So, if you’re on the fence about going forward with a long-distance relationship, take the leap! Anything can happen, and it’s always going to be for the best.