When my boyfriend (now husband) and I started dating, we knew that he would have to go back to Germany when he would finish his studies because he was in Izmir for the Erasmus Student Exchange Program, which meant that we had about 1 month left in Izmir. That’s why we just sat down and talked about how we were feeling about each other and whether what we had could actually survive the distance.
At the end, we decided that we both could see a future together and would be willing to give it a try. There comes the first advice: I know everyone deserves a chance, but don’t start a long distance relationship if you can’t see a future with him/her. So, luckily Marcel and I were on the same page, we laid out some ground rules and made it official. The plan was that one of us (in our situation, it would be most probably him) would try to get a job in either Germany or Turkey, because we both were about to graduate from college. Shortly after, he had to return to Germany.
Set an end goal.
When it comes to heart matters, I really don’t want to make it sound like a class or a gym schedule, but I do believe it is very important to have a goal about your relationship, like eventually getting a job and moving in together either in your or his/her country. I know it is nothing like finishing your paper until the due date or losing a certain amount of weight within a time frame, but I think it does make it harder to move on with your life if you leave it open-ended or unplanned- especially if you are a control freak who hates the unknown like me. It may take time to reach that goal, but what is important is that you’ll know where you are going.
Talk to your significant other. It is very simple. If something is bothering you, say it. If you miss him/her, share it. If you are angry, talk about it (do your best to choose your words carefully). If you want to see him/her, ask to Skype or Facetime.
Do anything but withdraw yourself. Depending on your personality, you might get quiet or just withdraw either when you are upset because you are missing him/her or when you are just angry. But this will damage your relationship, because you can’t really kiss and make it better at that moment. Or you can’t expect the person to drive to your place to ask what is wrong over and over.
I’m the kind of person that withdraws and gets quiet when I’m hurt or sad or sometimes angry. So when there is something wrong, I expect Marcel to be able to tell that something’s up, which is super hard over the phone/camera. That’s why, over the 9 months that we have been doing an LDR, every time I was sad/hurt or angry, I had to speak up about it. He had to know, so that he could do something about it. It wasn’t easy, but it saved us from bigger problems which would be harder to fix later on.
Furthermore, do your best to trust each other. I know it is one of the hardest things to trust someone and gain someone’s trust. But your relationship won’t be sound if you are constantly questioning your s/o’s words. Do your best to believe (well, if you are doubting your s/o that much, why are you in that relationship in the first place, right?)
Respect each other’s personalities.
Two of you might have different personalities. Opposites attract, so maybe one of you might like to talk to more than the other. Not being super chatty or not wanting to text for hours doesn’t necessarily mean that s/he doesn’t love you. Don’t suffocate your significant other. Marcel didn’t like texting much, he would prefer just calling. And I would see my friends texting with their boyfriends 24/7 and there were times it made me think that something might be wrong with my relationship. But there was nothing wrong, it was just my boyfriend didn’t like texting as much as my friends’ boyfriends did.
It is also okay if your s/o doesn’t constantly say that s/he misses you or cries or says that s/he wishes to be next to you. Not everyone is super expressive with their feelings. In our relationship, it is obviously me who loves to express her feelings. Marcel is calmer, stronger, and quieter. There were times he had to put up with me crying for hours about missing him. And he never once called me crying saying he was sad about being away from me. It doesn’t mean he didn’t love me then, it just meant that he shows/experiences it differently. One side is always stronger, and in our relationship, it is obviously him.
Also remember to respect each other’s schedules. When you are away from each other and can’t make plans together, your s/o will have other plans with her/his friends and family or will just need to study or work. You can’t live attached to your computer/phone. Remember that. Respect that. There were times I was dying to skype with Marcel, but he had plans with his friends. I wasn’t happy about not seeing him, but it made me feel good that he was at least going to do something fun.
Try to visit each other as often as possible.
I know, easier said than done. I make it sound so easy and if it were that easy, it would be a normal relationship, not an LDR. But trust me, time goes by faster when you have a date to which you are looking forward. Even if there are still 3 months until you see each other, once you have a set date, everything will feel much better. It will be exciting, you will be making plans, and at the end you’ll see each other again before you know it. The worst times of our LDR was the times we didn’t know when we would see each other. Even just thinking about the fact that I wouldn’t know when I would see him next would break my heart.
Don’t listen to other people.
People talk. They always have, they always will. They will keep asking you about your relationship. And not all of them will be supportive. “When are you going to see him again?” “Is he moving to your country?” “Isn’t it hard to be away?” “What if he is cheating on you?” “Don’t you miss him?” “Are you going to get married when he is here?” “What if you can’t move in together?”
Normally nothing would be wrong with these questions. These are probably normal questions that people ask generally about relationships. Except when it is an LDR and you don’t have all the answers, it makes you feel bad. It might even make you doubt your s/o or even question your relationship. I hated saying “I don’t know” when people asked me when we would see each other again. I hated not being able to say just “tomorrow” or even “next month”.
But hey, I survived. Our love survived the distance, and here we are. Happily married.