By David Pekema
Relationships are hard work. And they only become that much harder across state lines (or international borders). But this isn't the 19th century, and even thousands of miles of separation can't sever the bonds of true love—you’ll just need to make some adjustments. Long-distance relationships are especially common amongst recent grads as college sweethearts try to make a go of it and many people move to new cities or go abroad. Throw in some new pressures about finding "the One" and "figure your life out," and these once easy and casual love affairs can often become something else entirely. There are no "rules" for a successful LDR, and like any relationship the key is communication and being honest with yourself. However, here are six steps that should save you a lot of headaches (and hopefully some heartache, as well).
Step 1 – Lay Some Ground Rules
There are two types of LDRs: the remain-completely-faithful variety, and the casually-date-other-people-and-see-what-happens type. Both clearly have their drawbacks.
The former is bound to bring levels of loneliness and an absence of intimacy that phone calls and e-mail likely cannot overcome. The latter will breed jealousies and suspicions that are sure to poison even the healthiest relationship. Call me old-fashioned, but if you’re not prepared to be completely faithful to your partner, it’s probably time to go your separate ways.
Step 2 – Keep in Touch (Every Day)
The only way to keep a relationship meaningful is to work at it every day. Maintaining some form of contact doesn’t mean a boring schedule of evening phone calls discussing the minutia of your workdays and the variety of Hungry-Man you ate for dinner. Something as simple as a text message during lunch, a thoughtful e-mail, or a sexy voice mail is proof that you’re thinking about your mate. Web-cam dates (weird as they are), love letters, or a daily blog are other creative ways to bridge the intimacy gap . Here are some simple questions to make an LDR more intimate . If she's abroad, send her favorite magazine. If he's across the country, buy him a subscription to a "quality" website. Needless to say, mixes featuring Sade and LSG are always a good look.
Step 3 – Get Physical
What fun is a relationship if you’re never actually with your partner? I mean, we all have needs.
Getting together for the occasional romantic weekend, and spending a week together during an exotic summer vacation will remind both partners why the time apart is worth it. (We’re talking conjugal visit-esque stuff here, but obviously there will be plenty of time for meaningful conversations in between.)
All this travel can make your wallets long for singledom, so make sure neither person bears the brunt of the expenses. Take turns visiting each other's city, choose neutral sites in between the two, and don’t be afraid to purchase tickets at the last minute if a good deal becomes available. A surprise we...