My long-distance relationship was a preference - here's how to make yours work


Love knows no borders or time zones.

This is a cheesy statement, but it is true, and it is strengthened now, more than ever, through the wonders of social media and communication apps. There are a number of people who are or have been in long-distance relationships that will tell you that they are hard work. I am one of those people - my first relationship was an example and it really wasn't a walk in the park - but I liked it that way. 

Yes, I preferred not having my partner within easy and constant physical reach. I was in my first year of varsity and I had met the lucky guy on Twitter before we started dating for a bit more than a year, on and off. This was my very first relationship and we were both kilometres apart, but this didn't bother me.

In fact, I preferred it that way for various reasons. I do believe in distance making the heart grow fonder, so I enjoyed and appreciated his company more knowing that it was a once-in-a-blue-moon thing for us to meet in person. The fact that we were far apart made it easier for me to grow closer to him because this meant that we had to communicate twice as much as couples who get to see each other every day.

Being far from him also challenged me to put more effort into getting to know him and vice versa, because we couldn't take a lot of things for granted when you see someone ever day. We would exchange pictures, share stories, and have honest and open conversations about ourselves and our lives without feeling like we were oversharing. 

READ MORE: "I am dating a married man and I love him" 

But many people in the same boat find that the hardest thing about being in one is the distance. Physical proximity is the one thing that couples in long-distance relationships wish on shooting stars for. 

Relationship expert, Paula Quinsee, says that it's not a norm for people to prefer this way of being with someone but that "circumstances create long distance relationships. It’s easier to have a relationship when you are in the same town or in the same city as the person that you’re dating. When you have a long-distance relationship, it adds some complexities to the relationship, for example communication."  

Here are a few people's experiences of long-distance relationships:

The good thing about long-distance relationships is boundaries. It's easier to keep the boundaries that you want kept. You look forward to spending time with each other, and it's never about the physical - you really get to know a person's personality and how they deal with things apart from the physical. You know you're sticking to it because you want to be with this person. The bad side of it is that you get to know each over a stretched out period of time, it's a longer process. You find that people in one place get to know each other quicker.
We always make time for each other - I think that's one of the things that work for us. We talk on the phone every single day. Communication is a thing that works for us. I try to make him feel very much a part of my day and he does the same for me. The nicest thing about it is that I don't feel like someone is crowding my space. And you get to miss this person, so every time you see them it's so exciting! The hardest thing is not being able to share some milestone moments with them. Yes, you can text but it ins't the same as coming home and sharing your moment with them in person.
I do enjoy a lot of time to myself. That's one cool thing about a long-distance relationship: you don't have that claustrophobia when someone ls living in the same town as you. In terms of making it work, it's a team effort. Generally, I think my partners make it work more than I do. It's about setting up time for when you're going to communicate - stuff like Whatsapp helps. Like, with one of my partners, when we're apart we have rituals that we do and one of them is to send videos to each other of us doing fun stuff; like dancing to music or whatever. It's still tough, sometimes long-distance relationships feel like a misfortune, especially when you keep meeting great people who are far away.

READ MOREShould we trust ourselves during the relationship honeymoon phase?

Paula shares some tips for making it work

Manage your expectations

Long-distance relationships are somewhat fragile, and so you have to pay attention to the expectations you have for your partner and your relationship. Paula says "if you are trying to get in touch with your partner and they cannot take your call or are not available for some reason, it’s not that they don’t want to be with you, or aren’t available for you. They are just probably tied up with work." You need to understand that things aren't always going to go your way, and you need to make means to compromise and find alternatives when they don't. 

Be wiling to communicate

Open and honest communication helps a lot, Paula advises, "in terms of sharing exactly what you’re doing, where you are, who you’re with so that your partner knows the names of the people you’re with and the places you go." This allows your partner to feel involved in your life. Also, you need to find a platform and means of communication that works for the both of you. 

READ MORE5 Perfect dates for a long-distance relationship

Manage your time

Long-distance relationships survive and thrive on clear and consistent communication, and that is hard to do when neither of you make time to connect. Paula suggests that you familiarise yourselves with each other's schedules, especially if you're in different time zones. Make means to meet as often as you can, and either alternate between visiting each other or meet each other halfway. 

Find ways to keep things alive

Sharing things online that you can’t share in person is one way to keep things interesting, Paula suggests. Watch the same movie or read the same book and share each other’s thoughts over the phone or through text. Make your partner feel involved in your daily routine and in the things you do by practically sharing the experience. Depending on your relationship, you could also try things like sexting and video calling to keep the sexual chemistry alive as well. 

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