Lessons About Long-Distance Relationships

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” ~Unknown

People tend to think long-distance relationships are one of the hardest possible ways of loving someone. I live in one: As a young European, I am deeply in love with my African boyfriend who pursues his career in Asia.

I met my love about two years ago. After dating for a few months and sharing a wonderful time in an Asian country, we split up, as he had many doubts about things that seemed to separate us. At this point in time, our differences seemed to be too wide to merge them into a happy, long-lasting life together.

This period was very painful for both of us. After one year—when I had already returned to my home country—he approached me again, explaining how wrong he was, and asking for a second chance.

I didn’t know what this implied, but my heart was saying wholeheartedly yes as I was confident the differences weren’t stronger than our love. My heart felt embedded in his, and I still loved him deeply.

So we started fresh again—this time with an extreme distance between us.

The first months felt easy, as the bliss of being back together melted the distance away. Even though different time zones and tight budgets influenced our ways of communication, it only mattered that we had found our way back to each other.

We missed each other dearly; but there was a certain peace with the reality. I could feel him being on the other side, thinking of me and being in love with me. This was all I could ask for.

However, I knew this serenity would come and go; frustration could kick in eventually and challenge us. Around one year and two visits later, the downsides of the distance did indeed knock me off. I missed my boyfriend during days and nights, and fear crept in.

What if this would lead us only to a big disappointment?

My mind dug through tons of questions and my world felt not as open and wide anymore. We knew we would need to deal with lots of issues if we wanted to be together—ambitious career paths and different work/life-balances, immigration papers, money, languages, intercultural differences, a worried family on my side.

It‘s not easy to keep up with the constant uncertainty of the future, and I often feel tired of external factors that hinder us.

But it has also dawned on me that I can’t make myself the victim of circumstances. We need to keep putting our heads up high and take the distance as our current external state that shapes us but will change eventually.

I don’t deny we live on two different continents, and can‘t have breakfasts in bed or spontaneous weekend trips to the sea. But I always wished for a wonderful man with a beautiful character who loves me for who I am. Now I got my wish—just totally out of my comfort zone.

I’ve learned some lessons along the way—and they may help even if you’re not in a long-distance relationship:

1. Communicate.

It‘s important that you speak, listen, write, fight, and laugh with your partner about everything that’s meaningful to you. I use different channels for communication, and surprise my honey from time to time with a postcard, a colorful photo, or an unexpected call.

We don‘t hear from each other every day; sometimes we can‘t Skype for days due to clashing schedules or bad Internet connections. This is annoying but okay.

We remember to respect the other person‘s schedule and space; we don‘t expect the other one to be available all the time. I think it’s important to keep it light to a certain degree so that there’s no need of constant (virtual) presence that would be draining at some point.

Also, I feel much better after sharing my struggles with my boyfriend; it’s a way of being honest and authentic. Make yourself a team in this. If you take on challenges together, it’s easier to handle the physical distance, and you get closer and surely learn a lot about each other.

Even if you aren’t miles apart, you want to find the right balance of interaction, and spice up communication with surprises here and there. You want to handle challenges as a team and become closer through them.

2. Challenge your doubts.

I can‘t make the distance define my feelings for him. It is what it is, and we can only do our best today in loving each other, and work toward a life together with patience and faith.

Distance doesn‘t kill love; doubts do. Therefore I give my best in choosing love over doubt.

Sometimes I’m not strong enough and let fear creep in. Then I share my frustration with him, talk to a close friend, or do something uplifting just for myself.

Then the feeling of love comes back on its own and laughs gently on my worried mind.

Every relationship faces challenges, and doubts may plague us sometimes. It’s our mind that causes doubts, so we’re the ones who can choose to take on a different perspective.

I’m not suggesting oppressing worries (that may be reasonable in unhealthy relationships), but I’d like to encourage you to choose a positive outlook when it’s healthy, instead of blocking yourself with limiting thoughts or labels.

3. Become clear about who you are and what you want.

If you love whole-heartedly it’s easy to put the other one on a pedestal and treat him/her like a superhero.

In a long-distance relationship it may even take more time to realize the other one is just as human as you.

Keep learning from each other, and don’t be afraid of discovering the flaws or challenges the other one may have. Try to first see what it is in you that makes you irritated, and exchange thoughts about it calmly and respectfully.

Always keep curious and ask lots of questions. Be willing to open up just as much.

Also, talk about where you want to head together and how you want to live. It’s important to create a vision together to know you’re on the same page.

As long as you respect and love your partner, you will always find a way to deal mindfully with conflict and disagreement.

4. Spend quality time together.

You don‘t need to talk every day. Just make sure the time with each other is well spent. Laugh a lot.

Try to treat the distance as a friend, not an enemy. Be creative, play with the technical possibilities—celebrate occasionally with a dinner on Skype, watch a movie via shared screen, or dance to some good music. Your joy about sharing those day-to-day things may be very high, as you do not take them for granted.

Visit each other as often as you can, and spend time just the way you want. Save up money for visits, split costs, and plan activities you want to do together. This is crucial for you as a couple, and it refuels the batteries.

Even if you see your loved one often, you still need to consciously choose to spend quality time together.

I’ve learned that physical distance does not equal emotional distance, and there is so much to explore. It’s really what you make out of it.

The point is to not deny the hard parts, but also to not feel paralyzed by them.

These are just a few ways to find strength and happiness in a committed long-distance relationship. What’s your biggest love challenge, and how do you overcome it?

via 4 Lessons About Love and Long-Distance Relationships.

LATitude

 

In 1990, according to the U.S. Census, about 1.7 million people in the United States were living apart for reasons other than separation. By 2005, the number of committed couples was about 6 million with no plans to ever live together on a daily basis. AARP’s statistics show that married/ spousal-equivalent people over 50 that live apart tripled in that age group in just four short years from 2001 and 2005.

Two careers, two houses, seeing each other holidays, traveling to be together every other weekend and vacations, is rapidly escalating as the way of life for the modern marriage/commitment. The most famous example might be American Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former American President Bill Clinton.

The statistics reveal that these two household marriage/commitments are holding up better than couples that live together. When being apart is the norm, being together becomes special. The result is that love becomes constantly renewed rather than being taken for granted.

Being in-love verses loving/loved reduces the chances of cheating/being cheated on. Absence does makes the heart grow fonder. The greater degree of space and privacy in living apart is the pressure valve that relieves the daily stress and boredom of marriage/commitment. That significantly reduces the possibility of divorce/break-up.

Due to the excessively high cost of divorce and divorce attorney’s obstructionist ways and their increasing flat-out lying solely to jack their fees up, many people are foregoing marriage for an exclusive committed relationship.

Along with long-distance long-term, committed monogamous couples, there is an exponential increase with short-distance long-term, committed monogamous couples. Often these couples even live in the same city or county or area.

The reasons are not only because of the excessively high cost of divorce, but also parents, children, friends, career, school, religion, health, smoking, cooking, snoring, race, ethnicity, gender, how clean the house is, incense burning, ego and more.

LATs (live apart together) have roommates that are not romantic relationships.

LAT have learned the value of the pragmatic ability to see the good in their chosen partner, even when their partner fails to live up to daily ideals and expectations.

LATs succeed and prosper as a couple because they focus on the feel-good emotions and physical reactions they have for each other. Choosing to see the good in other people has a favorable effect on other people and that effect increases the success of the feel-good in a love relationship lasting.

LATs are more prudent, independent, trustworthy, confident, sexually satisfied, honest, and much more likely to stay in-love. That’s because LATs have happily discovered lust’s eternal glow from waiting to be with ones chosen one lasts longer than the increasing ho-hum boredom of couple’s daily interaction dwindling down love’s flame and finally smothering even lust’s spark.

Clearly, LATs take their relationships as, and increasingly more, seriously than married couples.

Even the ever shrinking number of couples that do choose to live together under the same roof are growing in their choice of separate bedrooms for the same reasons LATs choose separate houses. Homebuilders have noticed this trend and built accordingly.

Employers have found to their delight that LAT employees are better employees. Without the daily distraction of the spouse/partner, the employee gives more to their daily job.

State tax agencies and the IRS are still trying to figure out residency implications for LATs.

via REVERSE MORTGAGES NOW: LIVING APART TOGETHER? What’s Going On Here??.

baby boomers living apart together

Sometimes tiny trends can have big implications, particularly when you are watching the baby boomers. That’s why a Statistics Canada report saying that 7 per cent of Canadians aged 20 and over had a significant other, but did not live with them, caught my eye. If being together but not actually being together all the time is for real, it would have significant implications for real estate and for consumer trends in general.

The technical term for those who are in a stable relationship, but living apart is “living apart together” (LAT).

There is kind of a Hollywood-chic vibe to it (think Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, or further back, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow), but most people cite more prosaic reasons than being cool for why they are not cohabitating. For those in their 20s, it is mostly because they have not gotten around to moving their stuff in to the other person’s home, with or without a wedding first. Among those aged 20 to 24, nearly one-in-three were in a LAT relationship in 2011, although 80 per cent said they did want to eventually live with their LAT partner.

To me, the more interesting trend is in those aged 60-plus who prefer to keep their own space while still being part of a couple. As of 2011, 2.3 per cent of those aged 60 or older were apparently in a LAT couple, compared to 1.8 per cent in 2001. That may not sound like a lot, but given the rapidly aging population, it is a trend that could encompass a lot of people over the next decade or so.

The phenomenon smacks of a baby boomer trend, although the data are not exactly clear as to whether it is 60-somethings or 80-somethings that are the LATs in this older demographic. Still, although Statscan does not break the figures down beyond “60-plus,” it seems reasonable to think that baby boomers – the oldest of whom were 65 in 2011 – were starting to have a large influence on the figures.

We know that boomer divorce rates have typically been high, even in later life, and that the number of single-family households has been climbing precipitously. It is not much of a stretch to believe that some of this might relate to those aged 60-plus who are not in hurry to set up household with someone else, even while wanting to be part of a couple.

Linda Nazareth is the principal of Relentless Economics Inc. and a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute

via Can baby boomers afford to live apart from their significant others? – The Globe and Mail.