Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

“Obviously, a long distance relationship is hard. But, like anything worth having you make it work.” -Leona Lewis

What is so difficult about the so-called “Long-Distance Relationship?” If you love one another, what could possibly be so difficult about it? My boyfriend and I had started dating about 6 months prior to my departure to Ghana, so we were both concerned about our soon-to-be 10 month abroad relationship. 7,000+ miles away and only a phone with inconsistent service, letters, and love to keep us together. The only thing that was definite was our love for one another, everything else was really up in the air seeing how we were both amateurs in the long-distance field. How we would manage to be apart for 10 months, I had no clue. Personally, in my own head I kept saying, “10 months abroad, no problem!” Boy… was I completely misled! It has turned out to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I am not sure that I would willingly do it again, if I didn’t absolutely have to. But, I can say that our relationship has grown to be much stronger because of the distance.

About seven or more people that I’ve met while in Ghana, willingly moved abroad while in committed relationships. Only about half are still in committed relationships, and many of them were abroad for just a semester. Some people couldn’t stay committed, while others admitted that they felt they had outgrown their partners, or fell out of love. The most frightening thing about long-distance is that you really don’t know what the outcome will be…You’re just thrown into the fire!

In general, I feel that the most difficult adjustment transitioning into a long-distance relationship is facing the fact that many new and foreign issues will arise due to the distance. What I mean by this is that oftentimes, things that previously were irrelevant, suddenly become relevant and detrimental to the relationship. The entire dynamics of your relationship shift. In addition, you both develop a new life. You become accustomed to life alone (without your significant other physically there), and have to constantly think of creative ways to keep the relationship alive.

Despite contrary belief, if you really love someone you will find that the easiest task is commitment, while the most difficult is coping with simply missing them and wanting them to experience everyday things with you. One of the main issues with long distance relationships is the communication barrier. At-least from my own experience, I found that long-distance communication can be misconstrued and clouded and, truthfully, at some point calls, texts, skype, and FaceTime just aren’t enough to fill the void of missing them. Phone conversations became our main mode of contact, and even though we enjoyed 4hour + phone conversations, it wasn’t always possible. Even if we both had the time, the cell service was unreliable.

Listed below are four things that I’ve found to be extremely useful in my own long-distance relationship:

TRUST

-If you are accustomed to being with your partner most of the time, it can be difficult to trust them when you are hundreds to thousands of miles away. But, trust goes a looonnnggg way. If you don’t have trust—do not even commit to a long-distance relationship. Save yourself the trouble. You will not be involved in your significant others life in the same way, so trust is key.

COMMUNICATION

-Having open communication while you are a part is extremely important. How often you talk is all dependent on your needs and what you both decide. Try your best to make it work for both people ESPECIALLY if there is a time difference. Being apart actually strengthens your communication. The focus is not geared towards what you say and how you say it, because all the other person hears is your voice and tone through a cellular device! It is so easy to be misinterpreted, which makes effective communication vital.

SACRIFICE

-You cannot expect that you wont have to make sacrifices because you’re hundreds/thousands of miles away. In my opinion, you may even have to make more! For example, if your significant other gets off of work 6am, which is 1pm your time, your significant other may sacrifice and stay up another hour or two to talk to you, or vice versa. Every relationship is different, but sacrifices of some sort will need to be made to make the relationship work.

CREATIVITY

-Try doing something out of the ordinary every once in awhile. Send a postcard, letter, package, etc. maybe even an EMAIL MESSAGE! You have to find creative ways to let your partner know that you are still in it.

There are so many things that play into a successful long-distance relationship, but the aforementioned are just things that I have analyzed as essential from my own relationship. Some are more difficult to master, others I feel we have successfully mastered together. Being in a committed relationship all while trying to adjust to an entirely new culture and set of friends was one of my biggest challenges while living in Ghana. I must admit, It has taught me more about myself, and given us the opportunity to cherish the time we do have together (phone convo’s, etc.).

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