The Ups and Downs of Long Distance Relationships: How to Make It Work

How to make a relationship work when you’re miles apart—and when to walk away.
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Keeping Love Alive In Long Distance Relationships

As Dawn pointed out, it can be stressful to feel you’re on the clock and your time is running out. Eventually, this emotional rollercoaster with no end in sight caused Dawn and her partner to have an unceremonious break up via text message.

A way to troubleshoot this kind of hiccup is to keep making plans to see each other. Loving notes, “It helps you get through those lonely nights because you know it’s coming—you know there’s something exciting.”

The common thread of the advice from experienced long distance relationship participants Ben, Jackie and Jennifer? Plan. Date a planner, be a planner, make plans—that’s what keeps you together. “Once it turns into a relationship and you want to keep it together, you have to be more calendar-oriented than a regular couple would,” points out Sussman. “So you’ve got to say, who is going to visit whom and when.”

Although Kim, 42, is certain she’ll see her long-distance boyfriend again, without any plans on the calendar, she feels like she’s just going through a long, drawn out break up. And when they do finally reunite, she admits she worries whether she’ll still feel the same about him.

Loving says that Kim’s concerns are valid. “Anywhere from the three to six month mark, we stop having these strong associations with people,” he says. “So if you don’t see someone somewhat regularly, you’re not going to allow that person to be associated with all of that good stuff that you think about them.”

Certain obstacles—finances, time and perhaps the schlepping—can start to mount and for some, the burden can feel one-sided. But if you want your LDR to last, you can’t let those issues fester. Sussman advises finding a balance to avoid building the kind of resentment that can lead to a break up. She suggests, “If one person is doing all of the traveling, the other person should at least offer to chip in or say, ‘How can I make this worth your while when you’re here?’”

Read Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back: How to Get Over Unrequited Love

Stick It Out—Or Walk Away?

If you’re both putting in the effort and making time for each other in the short term, there might very well be a long term. And at a certain point—sooner than a local couple would ever start talking about it—you should feel comfortable asking about that touchy four letter word—m-o-v-e.

But if your long distance love seems resistant to coming up with a mutually agreeable strategy for eventually living in the same place, Loving sees this as a big red flag—and time to do some soul searching. “What’s the point?” he asks. “Why are you avoiding a living, breathing partner who could be down the street? What does that say about you?”

Another reason to move on: If you find yourself preoccupied with worry over the state of your long distance relationship and when you’ll hear or see from your partner next, and they’re putting in less and less effort into keeping the relationship going, it’s time to pull the plug.

As Loving points out: “It could be a wonderful person for you, but not a wonderful person who lives 300 miles away.”

After all, romantic love is all about closeness.

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