There are incredible benefits to a long distance relationship that no one ever mentions.
“If you loved him you wouldn’t move”
“I was in a long distance relationship once. He cheated on me.”
“You’re hardly going to stay together when you live in separate states.”
When I announced I was moving states for work and leaving my partner behind, these were the most common responses I’d get. Offensive, rude, condescending responses that immediately made me regret both my move and my decision to tell this person.
I’ve been in a relationship for four years and about four months of that has been long distance. We used to spend most days together and now we’re lucky if we see each other every three weeks for a night or two.
It’s an incredible adjustment and was a hard decision to make, but moving was the right thing for me.
However, my resolve is not helped by the many, many people who think they know my relationship better than I do.
Every time someone would shove their opinion in my face, I’d immediately get defensive. Long distance relationships can ABSOLUTELY work, I’d tell them. I’m not the first person to do long distance, and I definitely won’t be the last. Their expression says “you don’t fool me” and it’s confirmed each time I speak to these people and the first question they ask is “are you two still together?”
I’m a firm believer in long distance relationships because I have to be. And because the evidence tells us it can work.
Even though long distance relationships can make you feel incredibly lonely, you’re not alone. More than 14 million people in the U.S. right now are in a long distance relationship.
Virtually every one of our favorite celebrity couples have had to do long distance at some point.
Actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn? They’ve been together since 1981, juggling long distance for a lot of that time.
Australia’s Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee Furness? Their strong marriage is built upon long distance, with Hugh travelling back and forth to the U.S. often for work. They say their secret is they never go more than two weeks without seeing each other.
David and Victoria Beckham did the long distance thing back when David was recruited to play for a Los Angeles soccer team. She says their long distance relationship during that period is the reason they’re still so happy together after all these years.
Of course it’s hard. There are nights when I sit in my house and cry, wanting to pack my bags and come home.
But if you find yourself in a long distance relationship for any reason, there are things you can do to make it work.
1. Plan daily phone calls or weekly Skype calls.
These will give you something to look forward to and will make sure you’re still talking as much as you were when you lived in the same city.
2. When things aren’t working, talk about it.
Long-distance often turns into a fight when things go wrong. If you can’t find the time to see each other, if your Internet drops out mid-Skype session, if you’re sad and lonely and everything is going wrong—it’s so, so important to talk through the problems you’re having.
3. Having a set date when you’ll next see each other.
This gives you something to be excited about, and will make the time you’re apart go quickly. Guaranteed.
There are incredible benefits to a long distance relationship that no one ever mentions. You begin to appreciate each other again because you’re not together every day. When you are together, you don’t take one another for granted because your time together is short. You have hope that keeps you going—one day, you’ll live in the same city again.
For me, those positives outweigh the negatives. I wouldn’t wish a long distance relationship on anyone, but if you find yourself in this situation for reasons like work or family, don’t get bogged down by the concept of distance. Embrace the time you do have together and look forward to the next time you’ll see each other.
Caitlin Stower writes and works for Mamamia.
This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.