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Long-Distance Relationships: Coping Strategies

In my first post about long distance relationships (LDRs), I looked at people who had been through — or are currently going through — this type of situation. Now my blog-friend Alynda is preparing to say goodbye to her boyfriend for 5-6 months before she joins him in England next year. She considers herself a strong, non-clingy type of girl, but she can’t help worrying about what to expect. This made me wonder what people who have been through an LDR have to say about coping strategies.

[Read the rest of this post at BlogHer]

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18 Comments

  • Reply jen June 5, 2007 at 9:53 am

    my advice: enjoy being by yourself. there’s a lot of benefits to having time and space to be by yourself, and take the opportunity to capitalize on those benefits. it’s really the best of all worlds because you can enjoy time to yourself while knowing that it’s temporary and that somewhere else in the world is someone who loves you.

    anyway, life is too short to wish 2 months or 6 months away just because you miss someone. enjoy your life and be happy that you have someone that’s worth waiting for. (if he or she isn’t worth waiting for, break up and be glad that the distance revealed that.)

  • Reply Ra June 5, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I totally agree with Jen!

  • Reply jen June 5, 2007 at 10:59 am

    also, those tips to close the intimacy gap or whatever make me want to puke. sorry to be mean or whatever, but it’s true.

    if a guy did even half of that stuff i’d probably break up with him for smothering me. and i’m a GIRL, can you imagine how the average guy is going to react?!

  • Reply Elissa June 5, 2007 at 11:20 am

    I like Jen’s comments also. Including the comment about the intimacy gap tips. We’re not 18 anymore girls! The only idea I like is the web cam one and instead of battleship a little… seductive…somethin’….would be much better. When else are you going to get to see your man in action if he’s far away?

  • Reply sassymonkey June 5, 2007 at 11:44 am

    I don’t really have a success story but one thing you want to do is when someone tells you that such and such a date is a VERY BAD TIME to visit do not schedule your visit for that time. lol Gee…you don’t think that happened to me or anything do you? πŸ˜‰

  • Reply geeky June 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    As someone who was in a LDR for 5 years, the Macabreday tips seems spot on to me. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • Reply Rachel Johnson June 5, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    I found this site useful and I think you may too! Ask any relationship question and get a response from a relationship expert, Samantha Daniels. Go to http://www.paltalk.com/samanthadaniels and be lead in the right direction

  • Reply Alyndabear June 5, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    You know Zan, I really do think Vivacemusica’s words hit home for me.

    As for the strategies, to each their own. Jase and I have talked about chatting on Skype style programmes, but honestly? We don’t talk EVERY SINGLE DAY here at home, and the last thing I want to do is turn all stalker-girlfriend and be forcing him to do that while he’s over there.

    Heck, dare I say it, I actually want him to enjoy his time while he’s there, to travel a bit, to see some bands, to do what he likes (within reason, of course!) Because as much as I’ll miss him for that five-six months, it’s not like I’m going to curl up into a ball and stop living myself in that time! πŸ™‚

    Maybe it’s different because we are going LONG long-distance (as in, 24 hour plane flights!) so it’s not the same for everyone.

  • Reply Kate June 5, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    One thing that I had to wrap my head around when in a LDR was that we were doing different things. Now, imagine you go on vacation, and leave your SO behind. You’re usually so busy you don’t have time to communicate as much as you would like, plus there are all these new things around to distract you. For the SO, they’re at home, doing the same as always, only you’re not there, so they want to be in CONSTANT communication.

    Whenever I was the one “staying behind,” I’d have to run through all my vacations in my head, and remember they weren’t ignoring me because they suddenly hated me, they were just in “learning new things” land.

  • Reply GrizzBabe June 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I like what Macabreday said about trusting your partner “blindly.” This really is required in a long-distance relationship and I have to remind myself of that all of the time. I often run little scenarios through my mind of what my man could be doing 300 miles away but I have to stop those thoughts in their tracks. To do anything but have blind faith that my partner is being true to me would be detrimental to the relationship.

    Also, I did #8 and #10 on Maleki’s list for Valentine’s Day. I sent my man one one my black, velvet demi-bras that had been drenched in my perfume. He LOVED it!

  • Reply B June 5, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve been in a LDR for 4 years. I agree with advice to trust blindly- I know that my guy would NEVER do anything to jeopardize us. And I am the same. We are also honest and up front. If he goes out to dinner with a friend (girl) then he tells me. If I go out to dinner with a friend (guy) then I tell him. No surprises.
    I think the list of intimacy is a bit overmuch. My guy and I talk almost everyday unless one of us is sick, asleep, away or extremely busy. We send text messages from time to time. We also will find a show that we both like to watch (Currently its Dancing with the Stars- which is good because its a limited run show). This won’t necessarily work for everyone, esp. if you are on different continents. But maybe you can find something you can watch online and talk about it at a set time. I like the idea of having something you both do at the same time, no matter what it might be. We also send care packages from time to time.
    I guess, find the communication level that works for you- if its a daily email, blog, phone call, text message and keep to it as best you can. But, be flexible and allow for life’s little surprises. Above all trust and love your partner.

  • Reply heidikins June 6, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Hi, new to your blog, jumped over from Alyndabear.

    I’ve been dating someone for almost a year who lives 1,000 miles away. Different climate, different time-zone, different state. When we first started dating I read dozens of articles similar to this one about long distance relationships, and things have been working out splendidly. Only, now I’m to a new place: he’s moving here. I’m used to the distance, and I’m kind of unsure about how I will handle him living in the same city. You don’t, by chance, have any fantastic advice for someone in that position, do you?

    xox

  • Reply Dick Masterson June 8, 2007 at 5:31 am

    A strong, non-clingy type of girl? That’s a contradiction.

    And I believe the word you’re looking for is “independent”.

    -Dick

  • Reply lizzie August 14, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    This site really lift me up a lot! thanks for those empowering tips and success stories you guys posted…Im experiencing a LDR presently and me and my bf have been goin out for five years now. Him moving far away really hit me that hard. I dont know what to expect but I’m just hoping for the best, as they say it takes to to tango so its up for the both of us to make our relationship work. Faith, love, prayers, and constant communication will make us through right now.

    “Believe, for it Shall Pass
    The distance is not permanent. It shall pass in due time. DonÒ€ℒt ever give up on something so precious, because of distance. “how bad can a few months or years be? You both have a lifetime together.” πŸ™‚
    Your right! thanks again πŸ™‚

  • Reply In love August 21, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Yes, long distance is tough. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year, yet we see each other only for a certain amount of time throughout the year. We had met online, so he lives a couple states away. We started off seeing each other once every 2 months, then once every month. (School breaks) For the summer of 2007, he had come down to spend 3 weeks with me then back up he went home. Then a few weeks later he had come down to spend another week with me before going back to school.

    I don’t know what has kept us together. It may be the things we share, we tell each other everything. Trust however is the number one thing needed in this type of relationship. Being around so many other students, as well as close female friends. I have told him several times how I felt about it and he has told me several times in return that there will never be anything or anyone to break up what we have together. This sounds like the lame ‘I love you’ after the guy hits his wife but it’s true, and trust in him is the only thing that can get it to work out. The more time spent with each other during the periods of time not together help keep us closer even if we both know the day of separating for some time before seeing each other is just around the corner.

    I’m not sure if this does anyone good by telling you my story but it was if not helpful, nice to share.

  • Reply HeatherD February 4, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I’m 29 days into a 117 day separation from my boyfriend. I am studying abroad on a program I got involved with before I even met my guy, so it was with full knowledge of the impending separation that we started dating. The time we had together was amazing, and he promised from the get-go that he was willing to wait. I can’t wait to get home to see him again.
    Before I left we made a build-a-bear and he sent a bottle of his cologne with me, and BELIEVE ME, the importance of scent is soo soo soo underappreciated until times like these. I brought several photos of him and us and put them all on my wall. I made him a countdown calendar with a photo of us and a song lyrics for everyday that I am gone, and he loved it. We IM almost daily, often using the webcam and webphone–apparently skype is better than yahoo–we often have delays. Its important to keep things as light as much as possible and not sink into “I miss you, and I miss how you do this…” or even dwell on the things you are missing–birthdays, holidays, etc. because that’s not going to change, so it does neither of you any good to dwell on it. Talk about the silly daily things you do and send pictures. We’ve sent snail mail but so far neither of us have received it. He sends me a bible verse every day via email, and I leave little messages for him.
    I just take it in baby steps–first surviving the first week, then getting into the double digits of days left til I get back, and now I am looking towards the halfway point.
    I am, however, enjoying my time here. I’m not homesick and rarely feel lonely. I go out, make friends, and have fun. It’s a whole new world that I have 4 months to explore.
    I worry a bit about him, who is stuck at home just going on with everyday life. He’s not studying a new language or planning excursions to keep him distracted like I am. We ran into our first little speedbump this morning, and its so hard to fix things over the internet.
    I guess what I am trying to say is these things are all true, at least for me. It totally depends on the relationship, but it’s not impossible to make it work.
    I know that we are going to survive this, and I know that everything happens for a reason.

  • Reply Val August 31, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Wow, I am livng with a long distance relationship right now. You people can be cold hearted! My partner and I are both extreme INTROVERTS and even we aren’t that disconnected. Time alone is a good thing, absolutely. Being connected to the person you love most in this world, NECESSARY! I didn’t read anything in those suggestions that said you shoud do them all! Wow, pick one that suits your style and utilize it to your best advantage. Neither my partner, nor I are big on using the telephone. We do call occassionally, but mostly we stay in touch using email. We chat once or twice a week. Right now we are at 3 months of separation and it’s not easy, we have 2 more months to go to reach the end. There are times when I call because I do need to have the intimate connection of hearing his voice. He has called me in the middle of his night because he woke up thinking about me. We talk about a lot of things, but I have noticed that by mutual silent agreement, we NEVER have arguements or cross words with this amount of distance between us! We both give only positive feed back and reaffirming words.

    When I didn’t hear from him for a week straight, my first thought was, ‘is he angry with me?’ I went straight back to my last email and my last chat. There was my answer. No he was not angry with me, nothing but love was coming through, so I called. The man was in the HOSPITAL! Had been there for 4 days and didn’t want to worry me! We worked out the who is allowed to worry and who has to stay in touch no matter what issue…. right then and there! Two nights later he called me from that hospital bed in the middle of his night! Because he needed to hear me, because the echo in his mind was my words, ‘I love you very much!’ and he wanted to hear them again!

    Yes, everything happens for a reason. Nothing in life worth having comes easy! Distance can be a relationship killer if both of you are not tenacious, resilient, stubborn, determined, and most of all, willing to trust with every part of your being!

    I hope this helps someone in my same situation.

  • Reply Charlotte April 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Being in a long distance relationship has been one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced. It is definitely not something I would encourage people to actively seek out – a LDR is a crazy, rollercoaster ride that is a great test to both partners and for me was not a choice in the sense that the thought of not having each other in each other’s lives was far worse than the heartache we’ve suffered when we were separated. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year, he is American and I am Australian. So yes, we literally live on opposite ends of the planet.
    We met when we were both studying in Germany and fell for each other very quickly. In the 15 months we’ve been together, we’ve been apart on four separate occasions, the most recent (and the worst separation to date) started just two days ago. It’s heart breaking this time around because we’re not sure when we will see each other again, the earliest not being at least until
    November, which is seven months away. We’ve done four months apart, three months apart and one month apart, and I’m finding it so incredibly difficult to cope and accept the fact that we’re not going to be able to hold each other for over half a year.
    I used to believe that the more we were apart, the easier it would become, but unfortunately it’s the complete opposite. We’ve traveled the world together and have the most amazing relationship, so as the months have gone by we’ve gotten closer and closer, so being apart just becomes harder and harder when you love your partner so much, the world just doesn’t seem right or happy anymore when they’re not around.

    Reading about other people’s experiences definitely helps. Writing about my own experience with a LDR also helps, and something I recommend to others in a LDR. I’m not sure what other advice I could offer except to say that you need to be realistic. It will hurt, there’s no doubt in that, so it’s important you give yourself time for it to hurt and understand that it WILL pass. This I know for a fact. In the meantime, distraction is key. It’s what’s keeping me going right now… surround yourself with friends, plan your days so you always have something to do, and if you’re by yourself at home, put the TV on or anything that will help.
    I find I feel the saddest when I’m alone and everything is quiet (so of course whenever I go to sleep), so avoiding these situations if possible I find also helps. It’s when everything is quiet that it hits you that you’re alone and when you’ll think about your partner
    and miss him the most… so staying distracted can help with this. But as I also said before, give yourself time to be sad. And enjoy all the wonderful memories you have with your partner, even if it does make you miss him more. Look forward to when you will see him again, no matter how far in the future it is. Time feels like it goes so slowly when you miss someone, and then so quickly when you’re together,
    but it will pass. And before you know it, you and your loved one will be reunited and the wait will have been completely worth it πŸ™‚

    As for keeping the ‘spark’ alive, communication is so important. Talk to your partner whenever you can, be it AIM, Skype, Facebook, and so on.
    My boyfriend and I talk everyday and it always makes us feel better to hear each other’s voices and to know what the other has been up to.
    But don’t just stick to internet forms of communication. Write letters, send postcards or care packages. When holidays come around, send presents and cards. Anything to show your partner that you’re thinking of him, love him and miss him. Organise times when you
    can watch shows simultaneously together. Every little thing helps. Be honest, be realistic, and trust each other 100 per cent. Without trust, a LDR will not work. Tell your partner how much you love and miss him. Try to be independent. Sometimes it will feel
    like nothing will ever feel or be as good without him, which is certainly how I have felt sometimes. You need to try and find happiness in other activites and not be completely dependent on your partner. Surround yourself with friends, eat healthy and exercise.

    Last but not least, know that the pain of not being together will end and you will get used to not having your partner around. And that before you know it you will be reunited πŸ™‚ Be strong, the time apart is so totally worth it for when you are together again.
    I especially like this little quote so I’ll end with that: β€œBelieve, for it shall pass. The distance is not permanent. It shall pass in due time. Don’t ever give up on something so precious, because of distance. How bad can a few months or years be? You both have a lifetime together.”

    PS, sorry if I’ve repeated a few things… it’s 2 in the morning and of course, I can’t sleep because I’m upset and miss my boyfriend :/ But I hope my words will help others… πŸ™‚

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