Just pulling an educated guess out of my top hat, I would say if you ask ten people whether a long distance romance would work, 7 of them would say no and 9 of them would say it’s not worth it. Maybe it’s my ‘unwilling to give up’ attitude, but I would be the one person who would say long distance romance could work IF you have the will for it. Long distance romance is also worth it IF you are willing to adjust certain things about yourself to come to some form of middle ground with your lover.
Below are the things I was faced with during the three and a half years of our relationship so far:
A) Intent -VS- Perception
Using pure text to communicate often yield misunderstandings due to the lack of tone and context. For me, in the beginning of our relationship, I had on many occasions mistook the intent of her words. I thought she was attacking me or being an ungrateful person after all the energy I put into helping her. After our argument, she told me about her intent. Unfortunately, I was fuming from what I perceived as her being negative towards me, whatever logical intent she told me afterward was already too late. Though eventually we both calmed down and I apologized eventually.
Solution? Do voice chat combined with web cam as much as possible. This way, not only would you see and hear her, but you would also have the opportunity to learn how she works. So in time, hopefully, you will automatically figure out what what means when she says certain things or use certain words in pure text communication.
Personal Result? It took me a long time to adjust to her usage of words and text. I had to constantly remind myself that English is not her first language, even if she is fluent, she still has a harder time using the right visual tone of words. To this day, I have gotten a lot better at it, but I still lack the ability to decipher everything. Having a temper combined with a depressing job situation doesn’t help me either.
B) Work toward a middle ground
Each person will have their needs and wants and each person will have their sphere of comfort and gradient of discomfort as things move beyond it. With this, each person has to learn to adjust themselves to cater to the other person, without going to far out of their comfort zone that it makes yourself resent the other person for it.
This is probably one of the most difficult things each individual need to come to a realization about. Coming to a middle ground means BOTH people need to learn when and how to yield. Below are examples of what it means when each person comes to the middle ground:
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- Learn to respect their opinion even if you disagree with theirs. This means addressing their viewpoints without bashing them or questioning their mental state, on top of staying calm and collected.
- Try to see why they believe in what they do and see what aspects of it you can agree with and explain why you don’t agree with other aspects.
- If you are against an issue, offer a solution to it instead of saying “I think it’s wrong, but I don’t know what a solution is.” That’s just as bad as saying “You suck, I don’t care about what you think. I’m right. You’re wrong.”
Below are examples of what it DOES NOT mean when each person comes to a middle ground:
- False agreement. This comes off as an insult rather than a happy ending.
- Standing where you are, without offering any solutions or even try to understand and take a more objective approach to the entire issue.
- Adamant that you are right and s/he is wrong. Understand what is fact and what is opinion. Opinions are neither wrong or right. However, facts are proven statements and not self-styled belief systems fueled by opinion.
Use the following tips on communication:
- DON’T give partial information which leads to misunderstandings.
- DO make your viewpoint clear and to the point at the beginning.
- DO take your partner’s characteristics into the calculation when s/he is making a statement.
- DON’T assume anything if it doesn’t sit well with you. Ask for clarity.
- DO take time from each other like a short break before continuing.
Ultimately, if you two have vastly different approach to communication and cannot yield to each other even a bit, then you two should strongly consider that the relationship is not right for you. In the long run, you will run into the same issues over and over and over again. Sometimes, this could be due to language barrier, perception and awareness, the ill understanding of the characteristics of your partner and other daily mundane influences that may affect each others moods.
C) Be affectionate consistently
Do not pick a set day of the week or month to say “I love you.” or “I miss you.” Instead, when you say what you want to say, it should reflect the sincerity to say it or show it. That is why I shake my head at people who pick Valentines Day to do something special for their partner, but make absolutely no or very little effort in the other 364-365 days of the year.
It should always be based on a whim, but here’s the thing, the amount plus the quality of what you say and do should be based on what you and your partner is comfortable with. If your partner is conservative and doesn’t like public displays of affection, don’t keep sending her baskets of heart shaped candy every Monday at the law firm she works at. Send her a stick of her favorite flower and a simple note from you personally every now and then.
Also, if your partner doesn’t mind that you spend time with your friends, this doesn’t mean you forfeit your lover. It means you can hang out with your friends, but you also have to take the feelings of your partner into account as well.
D) Take things less serious at times
People have to take into consideration that each person has their own character nuisances. With that said, if you’re next to each other, then it’s a lot easier to recognize those nuisances and adjust yourself accordingly. However, since you two are apart, most of the time, you have to remind yourself about these things and not take things too seriously.
I have learned to do this, but sometimes in my hastened responses coinciding the things she says to me following by a blunt “I was joking” statement, I often shake my head in agitation because most of the time, the way she means things seriously also sound the same when she’s apparently joking. It gives me major headaches, but I have learned to let go for the most part.
E) The world does not revolve around you
Every person has their own problems. When you two decide to be together and decide to be committed to the relationship, then it’s no longer just about you no matter the hardships you are going through on your own. The word commitment means you take time and effort out of what you normally reserve for yourself and make the relationship work. This means you set aside your personal whims and put that energy into the other person.
Also, as partners in a relationship, try to look at your partner for direct and indirect encouragement. If he is trying his best most of the time, to stay afloat without falling down and staying down, then use that as a means to boost yourself to do greater things. Don’t let his effort go to waste, especially when what he is doing is also doing it for the relationship and ultimately, you.
F) Respond! Do not ignore!
This is a big no no. You may not necessarily have to respond to everything and this really comes down to the dynamics of the relationship. However, the general rule of thumb is that you two should never ignore each other. You may not have to respond to every little SMS s/he sends you, but you should respond eventually and not too late either.
If your partner flirts with you, you will need to eventually respond. If your partner makes sexual advances, play along with him/her or tell him/her how you’re feeling at the moment if you don’t feel too well. If you’re not feeling well, tell your partner. Don’t withhold that information. It will just create more problems in the future. Don’t believe for a moment that your partner don’t need to know. Your partner NEEDS to know. Otherwise, when an argument comes out and then you tell him/her about it, it will just infuriate him/her. It would be perceived as you trying to blackmail him/her into submission.
G) Constantly remind yourself of the problems you two have been having and do something about it
This is a big one. Some relationships fail so badly at this, that I often wonder why they are still together. There are problems. If you promise to make changes, then follow through with them. There is no such thing as “I don’t know” when asked why either partner doesn’t keep their word and make sure those problems don’t come up again.
If you feel your partner doesn’t deserve any effort or consideration, ask yourself why you are in this relationship in the first place. If all you’re in it is for the fact you fear you will be alone again, then bluntly put, you are the most selfish person in the world and should get slapped for it. Eventually your partner will get sick and tired of it and leave you.
What’s better? A happy relationship that works on its problems or an unhappy partner that leads to a broken relationship? That’s a rather easy one to answer don’t you think?