Two of my closest friends are in happy, committed and seriously long-distance relationships.
I have watched with fascination over the past year how they make this work with such distance between them.
I am the kind of person who loves touch, one-on-one time and dates in a relationship, so I cannot help but wonder what they are getting to replace these experiences and what the distance offers in return.
I began asking and listening to how they described their interactions and what they relied on to make them feel safe, loved and special without the regular physical contact.
One relationship began with a chance meeting but quickly flourished when they returned to their respective homes. They exchanged numbers; regular texts turned into phone calls, which turned into another visit.
So, this type of relationship began with the basics of getting to know each other, yet this happened through conversation, not with the help of movies or groups of friends distracting the conversation. They learned early on to share their feelings, emotions and what was going on in their lives in a one-on-one environment.
These relationships were not clouded by physical attractions but had to survive on emotional connections between visits, which were often months apart.
My friend made it clear that all they had was words (this couple didn’t do Face Time or Skype), just texting and phone conversations. Therefore, she said they had to be clear with their words and intentions. Neither party could see if the other was upset, angry or stressed, so they had to be honest about those feelings when they arose and be prepared to share those feelings with their partner.
From this I have also observed that this gives them greater appreciation of the other person; they don’t take each other for granted or allow distance to tear the relationship apart. They build a bridge with these words of affirmation, kindness, sweet good mornings and goodnights.
These people are apart for a reason; they didn’t just jump on the next plane after the second date because they are working towards goals, and they are people who take care of themselves. This also allows them to retain that bit more independence and their partner has to support their dreams, goals and lifestyle.
These long-distance lovers regularly make sacrifices for each other; one visits the other and vice versa. Their coming together is a compromise of how they want their life ‘together’. They design a life together as the months go on.
The commitment is mutual. They both know that by just being in this relationship that they respect, love and admire each other. It takes work they are both willing to put in. They both know they want a future together and there will be a time in the months or years ahead when they can be together. They see each other as worth the wait and effort involved in this.
When they begin to talk about a future together, they have already built a solid foundation of openness, honesty, trust, support and devotion. They know that absence makes the heart grow fonder and, one day, they will be together and every day after that will be cherished.
Photo by Jorunn Lorenzen