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ImageMaybe you’re both graduating from college and are pursuing jobs in different cities. Maybe one of you is in the military or has a job that requires relocation. Maybe you met online and don’t live in the same place. No matter the cause, most of us are faced with considering a long distance relationship at least once in our lives. It can be a very tough situation, especially if you’ve already been in a happy relationship for several months and weren’t expecting this distance. Do you decide to part on good terms and spare the trouble of a long distance relationship? Or do you decide to tough it out and make it work?

Maintaining a LDR is like running a marathon: it’s challenging, it takes extreme endurance, and can exhaust you mentally, emotionally, and physically if you aren’t prepared for it.

Fortunately, I have some insight that can help you decide if the relationship is worth pursuing and how to make it work if you do decide to tough it out. With adequate preparation and planning, it is very possible to make a LDR work for both of you.

Three important factors must come into play for a successful LDR.

1. It must be a strong, committed relationship from the beginning

Building a strong, committed relationship is a topic that could fill several articles and books. Unfortunately I can’t fully describe this in one article, but here’s the bottom line: if your relationship is very new (only a few weeks) or if it already has some serious issues without even being long-distance, it is very likely to fail in a long-distance situation.

Just as a marathon runner must be in peak physical condition before beginning the run, a long-distance relationship must be in peak condition before the long-distance begins.

2. One or both of you must have money to spare

I know, I know, “money shouldn’t determine the strength of a relationship,” but for a LDR, well, yeah, it kinda does. The hard fact is that for an LDR to be successful, you must be able to talk nearly every day. Consistent communication is vital to any relationship, especially a LDR. This means money for phone bills and for a computer with a webcam and internet access for video chat. In addition, you must also be able to visit each other as often as possible (I recommend at least every six weeks). This means you’ll need money for a reliable car (and fuel) or money for plane tickets and hotels.

A LDR is very expensive to maintain, and you must make sure that you can afford these expenses before you decide to pursue the relationship.

3. You must have a concrete date for when you’ll live near each other again

This one is vital. Like a marathon, a LDR must have a finish line in order to avoid mental, emotional, and financial exhaustion.

“When I graduate in May, I’m moving to your city.”

“When I find a job in your city, I’m there. I’ve already begun interviewing.”

“I’ll be back from military deployment next April.”

Without this concrete date, your LDR becomes like a marathon with no finish line. You are enduring one of the toughest challenges in your life, and you have no idea when it’s going to end. You hope that the finish line will show up eventually, but until then you have to keep moving forward at the risk of total exhaustion and collapse.

This is no way to endure a relationship. The finish line is what keeps us going when we begin to feel tired and think about quitting. It gives us something amazing to look forward to in times of doubt. Without the finish line, even the most fit relationship will eventually run out of energy and collapse.

With adequate preparation, a strong relationship can endure temporary long-distance with no problem. But if you find yourself enduring more hardship than you’d like to, it may be time to consider being fair to yourselves and adjusting the relationship appropriately. A relationship should always enrich your lives for the better, not diminish them.

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